Sewing Casual Wear Can be Fun

Over the last few summer months, I worked on adding a bit more casual wear to my wardrobe.

Reconstructed tank

I reconstructed a vintage tank top into a top that fits better and has a little more character.

reconstructed, yoked tank

The original top wasn’t huge, but the neckline and armholes were baggy. The following pictures show the steps in my process:

Here’s the original shirt. It’s a vintage top that was originally from Sears. The Sears logo on the tag would indicate the top is from the late 60s.
I tried it on and started messing around, experimenting with different potential styles. The final style I decided on was a yoke similar to this, with a seam down the middle front of the shirt.
Middle front seam (I was lazy and didn’t seam rip and re-sew the hem :0)
Here’s a picture from the right side of the top. I lined up the stripes very carefully in the middle front
After the center front seam was sewn, I measured and pinned a yoke into place. Then, I top-stitched close to the edge of the folded-over, top portion of the shirt, creating the yoke. The back is yoked in a similar manner.

In just a few simple steps, I had a new tank with a retro flair.

Ah, the notorious duck face… I promise, it wasn’t intentional. I was just trying not to laugh.

I love the way it ended up laying on my shoulders. It’s a beautiful thing when unexpected things happen to make the fit better. Most of the time when unexpected things happen during a sewing project, it’s for the worse (and I end up gnashing my teeth and questioning why I continue sewing). Am I right?

The back
“Well, hey! I didn’t see you there.”

Self-drafted tank

I made a tank pattern last summer, using one of my favorite tank tops, but never used it until this summer.


This floral tank is one of the several I made using the pattern.

the back
Thumbs still in the pockets. Why is this my go-to pose? Who actually stands like this? I mean, c’mon.

I also altered the shorts in the pictures with the tank. As usual, my big backside and smaller waist required that I make some adjustments in the back.


I had to gradually take in the back seam, starting from about halfway down my bottom and moving up to the waist. Up at the waist, I had to take them in about 1.25″ to stop the gaping in the back. But as you can see in the picture above, the surgery was a success: no more gaping.

Pants to shorts

I also made a couple of pairs of thrift store pants into shorts, but I neglected to take after photos.

The black ones had to be taken in the back about as much as the dark fuchsia shorts.

Altered thrifted skirt

I used a thrift store skirt to make the summery little number below. The skirt was large and just below knee-length. It also had a shirred elastic waistband that was crusty (ew!) and flaking apart.

reconstructed skirt

This was a quick alteration project. I simply removed some of the volume, shortened the skirt, and added an elastic waistband (though I now wish I would’ve done a regular waistband and a zipper).


Above is a closer shot that shows the print on the skirt. I just love the pixelated flowers.


Projects like these seem like a chore at first, but they grow on me. I’ve also learned that they’re a necessity. When I’m looking for something to wear in the summer I’m often annoyed that I don’t have more basic casual wear like tank tops and shorts.

Do you find yourself turning your nose up at casual wear projects? Or do you enjoy sewing basic tops and doing alterations? Is casual wear one of your wardrobe gaps?

  1. Sarah Lewis

    September 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I know who posing with her thumbs hooked in her pockets…..Danica Patrick!! I saw her in a magazine today and that’s her favorite pose!! I love that first tank top, very classy!

    1. Becca

      October 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      That’s cool. I guess I don’t feel so bad about doing that pose all the time then. 🙂 Thanks!

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    May 5, 2013 at 10:18 am

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