Ruffle tops are very popular this summer – the more playful the better. However, the new trend piece does not have to be expensive to shop for, a discarded shirt can easily be recycled to a sweet summer top. You really don’t need any advanced sewing skills or expensive utensils, if you can sew straight, the upcycling project w will do it easily!
For the upcycling top, in addition to the usual basics such as sewing machine, pins, hand measure, measuring tape and tailor’s chalk, you also need an iron, elastic thread (you can buy this in every fabric shop) and of course an old shirt. The shirt is the basis for the top and should therefore be as large as possible and cut straight, because later it will contract due to the elastic thread and will be much smaller accordingly.
Step 1: cut the top
In a first step, the top has to be cut, you need a rectangle as large as possible as the basic cut part. The best thing to do is button up the shirt and spread it out straight on a table. Then you can cut straight from one armpit to another. Then you should cut straight along the hem of the shirt so that you end up with a long and wide rectangle. When this is done, the button panel must also be off and the main pattern is ready!
Step 2: overcast the cut edges
After cutting, you first have a long rectangle with all-round open cutting edges. So that nothing frays in the end, the hem and top edge must now be cleaned. For this purpose, both edges are each folded 2 × 1 centimeter wide, ironed and then sewn into the shape.
Step 3: frills, frills, frills
When the top edge and hem are securely fixed, the nicest part of the sewing project comes: the frills! So that the top gets the desired smoked look, it needs elastic yarn. This ensures crimping, but can be used like a normal bobbin thread. In other words: it is wound up, used and is then ready for use. Normal sewing thread is still used at the top.
In order for everything to ripple smoothly afterwards, the thread tension on the sewing machine must be tightened and the stitch as large as possible. Exactly how this works varies from machine to machine, and a look at the operating instructions will help.
When everything is set, the frill sewing process can start! The curled smoked look is created by a large number of elastic seams that are pulled close together. Means: The part that comes now is relatively time-consuming, as many very straight seams as possible have to be sewn close to each other on the fabric – and that takes time. It is best to start measuring the first seam about 3 centimeters from the top edge, so that a nice, large ruffle remains at the top. All other seams are sewn side by side at a closer distance (approx. 1 centimeter). You can draw as many sheets as you like, for example, it also looks nice if the top is stitched with the elastic thread along its entire length – but that takes a lot of patience and elastic thread.
It is important when sewing that the fabric is always pulled smooth, because there should be no folds, the fabric should only curl. And: The ends of each seam should be properly locked with two stitches back and forth. If you want to be on the safe side, knot the ends of the yarn together by hand so that the elastic yarn does not come loose. When this is done, the bobbin has to be changed again, from the next step onwards, sewing is continued with normal thread and with normal tension and stitch length.
Step 4: close the side seam
When everything is ruffled and the sewing machine is set correctly, step 4 starts with the fit of the top. It should be based on the chest circumference of the wearer, the top is cut as wide as the widest point of the upper body – i.e. the chest. Once the chest girth is measured, two centimeters of seam allowance must be added, and you have already determined the size of your top. The measurement is then transferred to the cut part to the centimeter and cut to size. After cutting you have two open cutting edges again. They are then simply placed on top of each other on the right and sewn together a centimeter wide. The frayed edge then forms the side seam and is then finished with a zigzag stitch.
Step 5 (optional): Sew and attach the carrier
In theory, the top is now ready, thanks to the elastic yarn, it does not slip even without a strap. If you want, you can of course still use porters. They can be cut from the remnants of the shirt, for example from the sleeves that were cut off in step 1. For the straps length should be based on a well-fitting top, but 40 centimeters are generally a good guide. This means that for the straps, two strips of 42 (40 centimeters plus 2 centimeters seam allowance) x 10 centimeters (for later approx. 4.5 centimeters wide straps) have to be cut from the sleeves.
When the strips are finished, they are folded in half over their entire length, sewn together about 0.5 centimeters wide and turned inside out in a next step so that the outside is outside again and you don’t see any unsightly seams. The best way to do this is with a pen. Then the edges are stitched 0.5 cm wide on both sides so that everything is nice and flat. In a penultimate step, the four ends of the straps have to be sewn with a zigzag stitch and then only attached to the top. Again, it is advisable to orientate yourself to the placement of the top straps, which suits you well! The straps are best sewn through one of the existing seams so that you don’t see anything from the outside at the end.