1 Before and After1 beetleI found this top crammed into a sales rail at Dorothy Perkins some rainy day back in January or February.  At size 18, it was far too big but I decided to restyle it, which for £7 seemed a risk worth taking.  I was quite taken by its green beetle shimmer!  The original plan was to create something fabulous, inventive even, but during the cold weeks that followed, as I watched it swamping the dummy, the fabric took on an uninspiring sheen.  Here’s a picture of it looking like cellophane on me  🙁   I realised when seeing this picture that no matter what I made, it would be so clingy that I’d only be able to wear it with perfectly fitting bras – of which I don’t have many.1 Wipeout1 aSo I decided to do away with as much surplus fabric as possible.  In no time at all (an hour really) with the help of my Renfrew pattern, and by keeping the original neckline, I turned it into a sleek, sun-loving staple.  The colour and texture remind me of Ariel the Mermaid’s tail; in fact, I’m longing for a mane of red hair to set this off!

If you’re considering a project of this nature but are reluctant to start, remember that sewing stretchy jersey is not an exact science.  You can get away with some approximation.  Similarly, I’ve noticed that a couple of my favourite RTW T-Shirts don’t lie flat properly – the side seams twist around – yet the garments still look good and feel comfortable.  In other words, go for it.

1 ariel back

A tutorial (of sorts):


  • I’ve kept the original neckline as I didn’t think it could be improved.
  • I’ve kept the original sleeve hem but the shirt body has been shortened.
  • Being without a serger, I used a long, narrow zigzag stitch, then trimmed the seams closely.
  • I used my Renfrew, possibly the world’s most boring pattern, which has more than earned its keep: I’ve pirated it a couple of times before (for a Pattern Magic project and on another baggy-to-sleek restyle).  But you can use any T-shirt you like (or vest) as your template.  If two seams don’t fit, stretch reasonably evenly till they do!
  • You can use offcuts for bindings if you like.  As my fabric is metallic, I used offcuts under my iron to see if I could press new seams.
Step 1 Lay top flat, find centre and align pattern onto it, shoulder seams matching

Step 1 Lay top flat, find centre and align pattern onto it, shoulder seams matching

Step 2: Separate the sleeves and side seams then draw the back pattern onto top

Step 2: Separate the sleeves and side seams then draw the back pattern onto top. Sew the side seams, finish and press.

Step 3: Decide on desired sleeve length.  I decided to keep original sleeve hem.  Fold sleeve pattern in half; it should be symmetrical

Step 3: Decide on desired sleeve length. I decided to keep original sleeve hem. Fold sleeve pattern in half; with a jersey sleeve, the pattern should be symmetrical.

Step 4: Cut sleeve

Step 4: Cut sleeve

Step 5: notch the sleeve, then pin to armhole, notch to shoulder seam and underarm to side seam.

Step 5: notch the top of sleeve, then pin sleeve to armhole, notch to shoulder seam and underarm to side seam. Stitch and trim.

And finally…

No, I haven’t forgotten the Savage Beauty postcard giveaway?  Sorry it took so long.  The winner is Fabrickated.  Thanks to all who entered  🙂

14 thoughts on “Ariel

  1. Love that fabric Marianna , just like a Christmas beetle! It took our family a while to work out that June bugs (US) and Christmas beetles (AUS) are the same thing – they both come out in hot weather – duh! This is such a cool T shirt and if you get a bit fed up with cars running you over cos they thought you were traffic lights – you can always throw on a jacket! I wear a silver sequinned T this way! And on my to do list today, a refashion of a men’s tuxedo shirt – are we on the same page or what?!

  2. Love this. Very fun texture and colour and the fit is great. I must get in on this refashioning racket! I think I’m the only person in the world who has never purchased the Renfrew pattern…

  3. My dear – thank you so much for the post cards!

    I bought a silver shell top from Topshop sale – a really big size that was reduced to about £5 I think, with a similar aim. But it is languishing in my drawer. This has encouraged me to get on with it. I love the green beetle fabric – it really does look very sinuous on you, especially as the fit is so good. Enjoy the sunshine!

    I just “invested” nearly £60 in a new bra. I now have five Marie Jo Avaros and the fit and effect is in a class of its own. It seems such a lot of money but I am not going back to something that doesn’t work.

  4. I really like your work, I really like your blog, and I also think this refashion looks good on you. BUT Did you ever stop to think about how hard it can be to find plus size clothes? How hard it can be to find those elusive bigger sizes in places like Dorothy Perkins? You probably haven’t, seeing as you’re quite slim and you have the ability to sew your own clothes. It really bugs me when people snap up larger sized clothes in order to cut down and refashion: it’s as bad as all the people who won’t eat gluten (because that’s the latest diet craze)buying up all the gluten free stuff in the supermarkets, not thinking about the genuine coeliacs who actually CAN’T eat it and who rely on gluten free products.
    Now I’m not necessarily saying there’s a size 18 woman wandering around your town naked because you bought this top, but there are plenty of clothes already available in your size. Once you go into plus sizes, options become limited in RTW. Stop reducing those options even further.

    • I don’t think it is such a bad thing to re-fashion a plus sized item that is in the sale. The reason it is normally in the sale is that it has been rejected by those that it will fit as being unsuitable. I find in my local M and S, the dregs left at the very end of the sale are always the 18s – 24s, but in styles that those customers wouldn’t choose to wear.

    • Hi Geri, thanks for the comments about you liking the blog and sorry if I upset you (please stay!). I confess I bought another larger sized top at the same time (it’s the blue top I’m wearing a few posts ago which had an elasticated blouson hem which I removed) and didn’t at all think of this as depriving someone else of a stylish bargain. The irony is that I used to be a size 16 at a time when almost all girls/young women of my age seemed 8-14. I looked terrible in anything that Warehouse or Wallis had to offer: these clothes were so ageing and serious. (I didn’t enter places like TOPSHOP). I refused to buy from shops and went to Camden or Kensington markets for men’s second hand Levis, band T-shirts and hippie dresses that I’d tye-dye and add beads to. I loved my clothes, antisocial as most people found them, but for various reasons I don’t like to think back to those times.

      My son has multiple food allergies so I also know what it’s like to shop for the same limited range of foods (which require much preparation and faff) and I do bristle when people assume it’s just because he’s fussy. Not that he isn’t also fussy…

  5. Really great idea – there’s always loads of size 18 and 20s in the sales and I often look at the items thinking – all that fabric….. Well done Marianna, you’ve saved twice, once on price and again on fit. Brill colour!

  6. Saved the Beetle from the pulp pile (most probably where it was going). Particularily like your sleeve redo thinking: no sense in reseaming the thing when you can just match your new armscye to the place on the sleeve where it fits around!
    As we say: Shiny!

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