Upcycle Challenge and an Impromptu Tutorial

So, Ellie and Mac Sewing Patterns* are running an Upcycle Challenge this week. As a Brand Representative, I joined in.

Upcycling is not really my thing. I prefer starting from scratch and have no restrictions. However, sometimes it is good to go out of your comfort zone and try new things. I felt that I needed to go for a simple and easy pattern to be successful, so I chose the Lucy Swing Top Pattern*. I even started with two T-shirts to ensure at least one would be to my liking.

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As I did not have any suitable items of clothing in the house, I picked up two T-shirts from the charity shop. I went for the biggest size I could find in the fabrics I liked, both XXL. No point in getting an item with a fabric I did not like at all.

Obviously, my resulting fabric was not wide enough to get a full-on Lucy Swing top* out of them. The pattern pieces for the long version were too long and I felt that the short version was too cropped for my liking. I decided to start with the short top pattern which I traced. The PDF pattern had both the front and the back on one piece with different necklines. I prefer to have a dedicated piece for each version so after printing the pattern I traced it.

I added as much length as possible for the blue top, about 6 cm to the bottom hem, and went as far into the side seam as the folded fabric allowed. After that, I drew a line from the arm scye to the bottom to meet the hem. That means that both my tops do not have as much swing as the pattern intended.

For the blue top, I wanted to keep the neckband of the T-shirt. After measuring the neck opening and deducting the seam allowances I realised my neckband was just the right side to go into the top using a 0.7 cm seam allowance. Happy Days!

Given how loose the top is, I decided the Small will suit me best. I calculated that the neckband would need to be 32.5 cm including the seam allowance. The neckband on my Blue T-shirt was comparable to this so, I was able to use it just ‘out of the pack’.

For the animal print T’shirt, I did not use a neckband I just turned 1.2 cm in the hem and cover-locked it in place. For this one, I was able to use the full long-length bodice to cut the fabric but needed to draw a new line on the side seam to accommodate the width of the fabric in the T-shirt.

I like both resulting tops, but my favourite is the blue one. You may wonder why. for me a neckline finished with a neckband looks so much better than just with the hem turned over. It is a personal preference.

To make a pattern for a neckline you already have you can follow the following steps presuming that you are cutting the fabric on the fold so the pattern only is half of your neckline:

  1. measure the pattern pieces on the neckline. For example for the small size in this pattern, half of the neckline measures 32.5 cm including the seam allowance of 1.4 cm (two lots of 0.7 cm).
  2. deduct the seam allowances. for my example, that is 32.5 cm – 1.4 cm (two lots of 0.7 cm) which leaves 31 cm rounding to the closest full number).
  3. multiply this by 80%-85% to get the length of half of the neckband. I felt that for me 85% would work better. For my example, this meant: 31*85%= 26.35 cm – I rounded down to 26 cm
  4. Decide how deep you want your band to be taking into account that you will need to add the seam allowance to the height twice to account for the fold. For my example, I chose to cut a 5 cm deep neckband, accounting for the fold the resulting neckband in the finished garment will be 1.8 cm ( 1.8*2 + 0.7*2 which makes 5 cm deep.)
  5. Add seam allowance (you only need one for each half as you will only have one seam in the band). for my example, that was 26 cm + 0.7 cm. for ease of measuring I increased this to 27 cm.

The resulting pattern piece for cutting the neckband for this top for me is 27 cm long and 5 cm wide.

I am still not too sure that upcycling is for me. I can see the positives of using old clothing or fabrics from ready-made items but I struggle to see the potential ready-made items and the restrictions they pose when it comes to the amount of usable fabric.

How about you? Are you a fan of upcycling? Please let me know your thoughts on the challenges or benefits of upcycling in the the comments below.


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