Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Celestial Jacket

How I spent the heatwave: sewing! In particular, re-inventing some clothing, including several T-shirts and especially my beloved celestial jacket.

About the jacket, first. I originally made the jacket probably about 18 years ago, and the last time I wore it was around 15 years ago. But I was so attached to it, I left it hanging in my closet. But I had lost about 25 pounds (thank goodness) and it no longer fit. These photos were taken today, with my renovated jacket.

The original jacket was about mid-thigh length, with on-seam pockets. About a year ago, the parent of a student, who is a seamstress, tried to take it apart and try to make it smaller. She took massive volume out of the arms, but because of the structure (pockets and lining) could not do more. The pockets were too low (losing weight had somehow made them fall lower on my thigh) and the whole thing still looked massively huge on me.

So yesterday I took a scissor to the jacket and chopped off about 6" of length. I took out what was left of the pockets, created some new binding out of some night-sky fabric, and rebound the bottom. I'm now considering putting frog closures on the front, and while the I'm so happy to be able to wear the jacket again!

Here's what I did to the T-shirts, including the orange Matisse-quote shirt and the "Got Art" one pictured above.

Both of these shirts had been purchased at my state art teacher's conference. But they were standard T-shirt shapes and I NEVER wore either of them. You see, though I am petite, at barely 5', I have what I guess I'll call a decidedly "womanly" shape. The hips on a small-size standard T-shirt are too small for me, so I had purchased mediums. They looked ridiculous on little me. The shoulders were halfway to my elbows, the shirts hung down to mid-thigh, and the sleeves were voluminous. Ugh. They looked like nightshirts. And I don't like those ugly un-feminine T-shirt necklines.

So I cut off the sleeves, altered the sides to make it more female-shaped without being tight, cut back the shoulders and reinserted the sleeves. I also cut the sleeves shorter and and made them narrower.

I cut off and re-hemmed the bottom to a nicer length, and cut off the T-shirt neckline too. I then narrowly folded over the neckline twice, ironed it and hemmed it close to the edge, making it a little less constricting with a more feminine look.

I'm so happy to be able to wear both of these artsy T-shirts, plus the NO COMPLAINING shirt that I fixed also. This shirt also has, on the back, the Maya Angelou quote: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." My students know that our #1 art room rule is NO WHINING. So they'll like seeing me wear this shirt on a blue-jean Friday.

Hopefully tomorrow will be in the 80's or even 70's and I'll do something outside. How have you been spending your heat wave?


  1. You have definitely been busy. The "new" clothes look great. I like what you did to the T-shirt collars. I have a few that would benefit from that re-do!!

  2. Love all your adjustments. You look great and very feminine.

  3. That t-shirt trick is pretty awesome. I also have some t-shirts that are restricting. Very cool:)

  4. Wonderful clothing updates! You look great!

  5. Ok...I want 5 vests made out of sold color bright canvasish thicker for each day of the week...and big pockets!!! :)ha ha I've always wanted to have a smock/vest for each day of the week to save my shirts!! So much has been ruined over the years. I know how to show..just not well enough to do this. Come to Nashville and teach me!! :)

  6. Phyl those look fabulous. I'm especially impressed with what you did to those t shirts because I, too dislike big boxy boy-shaped shirts. If you don't mind my asking. How did you fix the armholes to make them smaller? Was there enough room at the shoulder to move the whole thing over a bit?
    Anyway fabulous fabulous.
    Good to see you back in action.

  7. LOVE IT! I have a question about the T-Shirts. . .Are those the sponsored ones from your conference or just totally rad ones they sold in addition to the conference tshirt?

  8. OK - this is the THIRD time I'm writing this comment on my OWN post - hopefully it won't disappear this time??!!!

    So here are some answers -

    Mr. E - I know you could do it yourself! (though if you want to fly me out to Nashville and put me and my hubby up for a while...) - anyhow - find a jacket, shirt, or vest in the shape you want. Trace it on some newsprint,and then add 1/2" or so for seams. Use your creative juices to help you figure out how to assemble it. Go to Wal-Mart or Joanne's or wherever to buy your fabric that doesn't stretch or fray much to make it easy. And POST PHOTOS when you are done!

    Barb - after cutting out the sleeves, pin up and sew the side seams to get the shape you want (there probably is no side seam at all when you start). My shirts were big and boxy enough that I was able to narrow it significantly from chest through waistline, and then ease outwards to make room for my not-so-tiny hips. Then I was able to move the shoulders in from 1" to 2" depending on the shirt. Pin and try on and re-pin until you get the fit you want. You may have to taper the sleeves to make them fit right. The bigger challenge is the neckline, as it becomes not only wider, but lower in both the front AND back. I have done this another way, cutting a V-neck shape and using additional complimentary fabric to create a new neck edging. (Last year's renovations - maybe I have to photo them too.)

    And Amy - the "got milk" shirt has on it, so it must have been "official" (that shirt is a year older). The Matisse one has no logo on it anywhere, so I don't know. I don't remember an official conference shirt, but since I think Matisse is THE MAN, I had to have the shirt even though it didn't fit. We each get a conference tote when we register, but I don't know if there's a shirt made just for the conference. The totes are pretty cheap - I save and use them for the grocery store or farmer's market.

    Hopefully when I post this one it won't disappear. I'm losing my sense of humor and ability to answer these questions!