Introduction: Collaged Blouse Top

Have favourite shirts with stains in inopportune places?

Love thrift store shopping but don't know how to wear the crazy pieces you come home with?

Like to wear clothing as funky as you are?

Have you been told that you have too many clothes in your closet but you can't actually make yourself part with them?

If you have said yes to any of these, this is the project for you!

Step 1: Source Your Shirts!

This is my favourite part of the project. Obviously I am making more than one shirt here. Look in your closet, do you have a favourite shirt with a stain or that doesn't fit right anymore? After that, source shirts from thrift or free stores. You need three shirts.

You need:

  1. Sewing machine/matching threads
  2. Iron/board
  3. Scissors
  4. Pins
  5. Ruler
  6. Fabric chalk/marker/pencil
  7. Measuring tape

Step 2: Choose Your Shirts (and Put Them Out of Their Misery)

When I'm looking for the top shirt I try to find a plain tank top or t-shirt that is not ribbed or stretched out. Make sure the neckline and armholes are in good condition. For the front and back panels, heavier t-shirts or blouses work. I always use a blouse (generally vintage) for the back. I look for old blouses with interesting pleats, buttons, vintage fabrics, and neat patterns. Shirts with darts are not that useful. I try to make sure the tank top fits well and the two "body" shirts are on the big side.

Note: If you are a larger body, use a t-shirt, or a shirt with stretch for the front panel.

Step 3: Cut Your Bodice Top

Put on the tank or tshirt and put a pin below your bust line. Be generous here. You need seam allowance and you want your shirt to lay flat. I aim for a three finger-widths below the bottom of my bra line.

Take the shirt off, straighten the pin and use a ruler to mark a line straight across the shirt.

Step 4: Cut Out the Body of Your Shirt

Draw a straight line under the armscye of both of your shirts. Cut.

Step 5: Plan Ahead.

If you want your shirt to have an even hem make sure your shirt lengths were the same. Perhaps you want a high-low shirt...start planning now! Cut the front panel to the same width as the width of the bodice front.

Step 6: Pin and Sew Side Seams

Pin the front and back panels together and sew using a straight stitch on your sewing machine. Finish seams on a serger, or zigzag stitch. Iron open.

Step 7: Gather the Back

Measure the front of the shirt. It will be smaller than the blouse. Find the center back of the shirt and measure out two or three inches on each side. Sew two lines inside the seam allowance using the largest straight stitch. Leave long thread tails and do not backstitch. Gather until the back and front of the shirt art the same size.

Because you are attaching woven materials to a stretch material, there has to be room for movement. I like to make the back panel larger and take up the extra material by gathering the center back. Pleats would work too if that is preferred.

Step 8: Sew the Bodice to the Shirt

The front and the back of the shirt is pinned differently. Pin right sides together. I usually put the bodice right side out inside the body pieces which are inside out.

Front: The front body should be cut to the same size as the body front. Pin normally.

Back: Find the centre back on both the top bodice and the bottom torso panel pieces. Pin together. Find the halfway point between the side seam and the centre, pin. Do this on the other side of centre back. Keep going until you have enough pinned to feel comfortable sewing.

Using a zigzag stitch, sew the front panel as normal. I use a big stitch the first time so I can easily adjust. When sewing the back panel, pull the knit tank top ever so slightly so it stretches to size blouse panel. This is to accommodate sewing stretch to non stretch fabrics. Finish the seam using a serger or zigzag stitch.


Step 9: Hem Shirt

I didn't need to hem this shirt as the back and front panels lined up.

Use your best judgement. If the material is heavier, finish on the machine with a regular double fold hem.

If the material is lighter, do a hem by hand.

This design looks really nice as a high-low top. Hem by hand works best for this.

Step 10: Try It On!

And you're done!

Just incase you are wondering about the fit in the front, I made this particular model a little differently than explained. When attaching the front panel to the bodice, I stretched the knit bodice, just like I do in the back. This was a bad experiment. It doesn't lie flat enough and us ladies of vanity will prefer a straight front. However, this would be the best option for kids clothing as it gives the garment more movement.

Happy Sewing!

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