Deconstructed Turtleneck

I’ve had this cute little gray and white striped turtleneck in my drawer for years. I rarely wore it but couldn’t toss it aside cuz I just loved how it fit and truly dug the stripes. Finally I realized that it was the turtleneck that was keeping this sweater in the drawer, so off came the turtleneck. Sorry, no before pics as I hadn’t planned on sharing this recon until later, but I’m sure you all can imagine the before pic – we’ve all seen too tight turtlenecks before, right?

I wanted to make the neckline slightly off the shoulder but it didn’t quite work out that way. Instead what I ended up with was a squarish, way too deep neckline that didn’t work at all.

Yucky squarish neckline not fit for human viewing.

I put the sweater on my dress form and started playing with the turtleneck and the piece I’d cut from the neckline and this is what I ended up with.

Playing with a deconstructed neckline.

This was a pretty simple recon. I cut away the side hem on the turtleneck to make it one flat piece, then lettuce hemmed* all sides of both the turtleneck and the piece that I cut away from the neckline. I pinned them to the sweater and hand stitched both pieces to the neckline so that the stitches wouldn’t show. That’s it!

And I love the end result!

So happy to rescue this top from the bottom of the drawer and bring it to the front of my closet. In fact, I like this little refashion so much that I plan on doing several variations of it with some more turtlenecks. I’ll post them as I do them, but you all can get a head start by removing your own turtlenecks and playing around with them, which is what I’m going to do. Hint: if you don’t like the asymmetrical neckline shown here, you can cut the turtleneck piece to the same size as the piece cut away from the neckline. You can stop there or use the third piece along the back of the neckline to create more of a collar-like look. I’ll probably do something like that in one of my upcoming reconstructed turtleneck posts.

*Instructions for Lettuce Hemming

I’m sure that there is a more professional way to do this but my 60 year old sewing machine only sews straight stitches and zig-zap stitches but I do like to make it sing. And no that’s not a play on words – it’s not a Singer machine.

For this top I set the machine to a medium width zig-zag and the longest stitch possible. I used the inside edge of the presser foot as my guide so that the zig-zag was at the extreme edge of the fabric and I didn’t worry if occasionally a stitch or two went off the fabric. While stitching I allowed the feed guides to pull the fabric through while tugging gently on the fabric both to keep it lined up with the inside of the presser foot and to slightly stretch the fabric as it was zig-zagged. Try it on a piece of scrap knit fabric and you’ll be amazed at how easily you create a very pretty lettuce edge.

While the idea for this top came from my own little brain, the inspiration and knowledge came from reading books like those from Amazon shown below.

Ribbed T-Shirt Recon

Years ago I bought a bunch of v-neck, long sleeve ribbed t-shirts. They weren’t Juicy couture but still I wore them to death, eventually moved them to my pajama drawer and then one day decided to do a little recon on one of them. I started with a brown t-shirt because I had a box of appliques I’d picked up at Joanne’s Fabric Store on sale and there was a set of blue/brown ones that I thought would look great with my little brown tee hiding out at the bottom of the wardrobe cabinet that had last seen the light of day during a Sunday afternoon Lifetime Movie marathon.

This little T-shirt is about to get a whole new life!

Now as much as I like a long sleeve t-shirt to hang out in during the winter I had bigger plans for this little Tee than hanging out on a Sunday afternoon. I love to design clothes and this little recon would give me a quick trip into Project Runway land. As you can see in the pic above, this Tee is looking pretty sad and worn out.

I started by cutting away the top in a straight line just under the armpit so that I had a long tube. I’m sorry but since I hadn’t planned on posting this I don’t have step by step pics, but I’ll give you all detailed instructions and pics I snapped after it was all done. This is an easy one to recreate. You can almost use it as a t shirt design template as the possible variations for designing clothes in your own wardrobe closet are endless.

I carefully trimmed the ribbing from the v-neck. I have plans for you Miss Ribbing.

I turned the tube inside out and upside down so that the old hem of the ribbed t-shirt is now the top of my new halter. I took the ribbing from the neck line and pulled on it a little to stretch it a couple of inches longer. I pinned each end of the ribbing to the inside of the tube at the neckline to make a halter strap. I had at first planned to button it to the tube on one end, thinking I would need to do that to get it comfortably on and off, but as it turned out I was able to easily slip my head through the halter strap without unbuttoning it so I ended up sewing both ends to the top of the tube and leaving the button in place as I liked how it looked.

Cute little button with nothing to do but hang out on my new halter top.

Then I thought that the other side of the strap looked a little lonely so I attached one of the blue/brown flowers half way up the strap.

Hello sweet little flower! Come join the party on my new top.

After trying it on I could clearly see that it was much too short. What’s a girl who doesn’t want to show her belly button to the whole wide world to do? Light bulb moment! I cut away the seam on both of the sleeves so that I had two long slightly triangular shaped pieces. I sewed the two sleeves together to make one long piece, leaving the factory sewn hem at the end of the sleeves as the hem at either end of the long piece. (You can lettuce edge one long edge of the long sleeve piece or leave it as is.) The next step was to sew this piece to the bottom of the top (wrong sides together) making sure that the factory hemmed sleeve ends met at the left side seam of the top. It didn’t quite go all the way around but attaching another one of my blue/brown flowers over the gap solved that problem.

Flower hiding the gap at my hip.

While the top was still inside out I snipped little slits all the way around between the seam attaching the sleeve to the top and the seam allowance and threaded a long strip I cut from the throw away portion of the top through the slits; pulled on the strip to gather it just above my hips, tied it in a bow …

Drawstring just below waist.

stitched on a few more blue/brown flowers …

… tried it on and pronounced this top complete. See for yourself.

No more hanging out on the sofa for you sad brown T, you're ready for lunch with the girls.

Oh and here's the back.

This was basically a tube top with embellishments. I’ll be doing more of these and showing you all some of the endless variations on this theme that are possible so that you can design your own custom clothing.

Make Your Own Custom T-Shirts with One of These Books