J McLaughlin Refashion

The RTW Fasters and I are halfway through our pledge to abstain from buying ready-to-wear clothes during 2014! Lots of the women are knocking it out of the ballpark sewing incredible clothes too.

I’ve found reaching the halfway point serves as a great incentive in achieving nearly every goal I’ve set out to accomplish, and I celebrated the six-month marker by cleaning out my closet. :)

While I’ve questioned the wisdom about going on the RTW Fast during the same year of my child’s wedding, the closet exercise proved my decision sound.

Closet organization generates a different type of creative pleasure for me.  I do not follow the Tim Gunn rule of getting rid of clothes I haven’t worn in a year for I am sentimentally attached to many garments taking up precious space. I truly enjoy the memories certain clothes awaken, but I was not sentimentally attached to this J McLaughlin top purchased in March 2011.

IMG_0019It brought back memories of a serious overindulgence I plead guilty to. It’s pretty, but  similar to other clothes purchased during the same shopping trip and I never wear it. By the time I get around to wearing white pants, the weather is warm and this top is hot with its long sleeves – I think it looks hot even in the shade!

An easy re-fashion was in order and in less than an hour I transformed the waste of money into a welcome wardrobe addition.

IMG_0029After removing the sleeves, I stitched the sides to eliminate the underarm flare. This took a few tries, but once the fit was right I ran the seam through the serger.


Next I marked and trimmed one inch off of the shoulder and angled the cut midway down the front and back armscye.


I finished the arms with a coverstitch before turning and topstitching. The four-way French spandex behaved very well giving me just the look I wanted.


Easy projects are certainly welcome during this year of more complicated sewing, but even better is the satisfaction of turning something useless into something treasured, and I know this top will now be a summer staple.


S i x  m o r e  m o n t h s  !  !  !


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124 Responses to J McLaughlin Refashion

  1. Fran Giacobbe says:

    As always…inspiring post!

  2. Bernadette O'Brien says:

    What a great idea to refashion rather than toss a good item of clothing. The blouse looks great. I found your blog via the Vogue Pattern Magazine article and have enjoyed your posts. I even tell my non-sewer friends about the blog because you are such an inspiration. I look forward to each post. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for this nice comment, Bernadette! Most of my ‘live’ friends do not sew but we all draw creative inspiration from one another :) I truly appreciate VPM’s lovely article.

  3. Peggy says:

    You are amazing! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  4. Tina Spear says:

    Looks Great, Sarah! I have been needing to do the same in my closet and refashion some items which just don’t fit “right.”

    • Hi Tina! There’s nothing better than find lost treasures when cleaning out the closet :) Hope the wedding plans are coming along nicely. You’re getting close!

      • Tina Spear says:

        Yes, we are. We’re in the downhill slide. The veil turned out great; I’ll have to send you pictures! I was so pleased with the results & so was my daughter. The bridal shop wondered if I wanted to make them for sale!!! Also, my rehearsal dinner dress I’m making by watching Susan Khalje’s couture class is turning out nicely. I’m excited to get it finished. It is probably the most detailed/couture garment I have ever made.

  5. Pecie says:

    Great idea! Looks perfect, like it was designed to be sleeveless. You look great in that color/print! Good luck with the wedding preparations!

  6. Amanda S. says:

    You are the queen of refashion! This top looks SO much better without the sleeves. Great vision!

  7. Philippa says:

    It looks really good. I am inspired to check through my wardrobe, and see what can be rescued!

  8. cathynd95 says:

    great save! Love the refashioned top!

  9. wellsew46 says:

    You are blessed with lovely arms and a tan, something ot often seen in my chilly part of the country in the New England top hills:)

  10. Lisa C says:

    The color of the top is just fabulous so I’m thrilled for you that you were able to refashion it into something you’ll enjoy this season. Great job.

  11. tavkat@netscape.net says:

    Great job!

  12. Carolyn says:

    Love this idea – the new top looks so cool and comfortable! I also have some sentimental pieces that I won’t get rid of, but I think that’s part of being human. :)

    By the way, this post made me realize that I haven’t bought any RTW all year so far! I didn’t take the pledge because I didn’t think I was ready, but maybe I underestimated? :) I need a new pair of jeans though.. so we’ll see how long I last!

  13. It’s so amazing the difference a simple fix can make. You rock the refashions!

  14. Julie Starr says:

    Ooh so cute and such a great way to cool down this cute JMcL top. Now if we could only find fabric like their signature “Catalina Cloth” to sew some more! I’ve been scouring the internet for two years and just cannot find anything close to their colors and prints.

  15. Tia Dia says:

    Great refashion! Now the top looks cool and wearable. How nice to take a wardrobe orphan and put it into rotation with a few simple tweaks.

  16. Linda T says:

    Yep, Much better!

  17. Oh, I love that now! What a difference cutting off the sleeves and taking it in a bit makes! For our Southern summers, that top will be perfect!

    Well done! You’re inspiring me to look at my own closet with a ‘different’ eye :)

  18. ME says:

    Great job !!! You are such an inspiration to look at garments in a different way . Thanks for the inspiration !!!

  19. Janice McCombs says:

    I’m on the RTW fast, too, and like you have been inspired to redo some of the clothing languishing in my closet. Love your remake of the blouse! Makes me think of the saying, “use it up, make it do, wear it out”. By the end of this fast, I think I will have learned to make much more careful decisions when it comes to buying RTW.

  20. Bryonna says:

    Inspiring makeover with a fab fit … looks prettier than the original!

  21. Ji says:

    You look great in sleeveless tops! And it’s perfect for the warm weather. Love your restyling.

  22. Deborah R Penner says:

    Great idea about keeping some clothes for sentimental value. At times, daughters and granddaughters want clothes as a memory as well, so this is a fine idea if you have the storage space.

  23. ewellons says:

    Another great summer top and a great do-over! Perfect for the beach. You remind me that I need to get in my closet too. With all of these me-made clothes, I’m running out of hangers! I think I am more sentimental about the things I made than the store-bought ones, but some of these were never successful and just take up space!

  24. Bev says:

    This is adorable now and really suits you. Great post. Thanks.

  25. What a great refashion. It looks beautiful.

  26. Jenny says:

    Great fix! That’s the kind of think I need to do with some pieces in my closet. Very nice!

  27. Lauren says:

    Totally right! Those long sleeves…..what was the original designer thinking? Sooo much better now, and best of all useful for causal summer wear.

  28. Mary Lynn says:

    Great idea and so flattering and useful. Wish we could find J. Mclaughlin’s fabric for sale.
    I’m also curious about what brand of coverstitch machine people use and recommend.

  29. seweverythingblog says:

    You turned it into a summer top that is YOU – I can see that you don’t feel comfortable in the photo with the original blouse.
    One question I have to ask is, will the RTW fast continue into 2015? Just wondering, since I’m proud to say that my RTW fast is now in it’s 5th year. Yay.

  30. Margaret says:

    Wow, this is so improved — well done, Sarah! I’m having fun doing the same thing and agree with you that some things in our closets have a place even if we don’t wear them every year.

  31. Turned out really cute!

  32. pdxknitter says:

    Very cute top. A great refashion.

  33. Barbara Kaye says:

    You have inspired me (once again!) to try dissecting a beloved, but no longer worn, blouse to better suit my new life in sunny California! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I might even get over my fear of the new serger my hubby got me!

    • Hi Barbara! I bet you have lots of refashioning possibilities after changing climates :) Craftsy.com offers lots of serger instructional classes to help you overcome your fear. Good luck and many thanks for your comment!

  34. So simple and so great effect! Wonderful!

  35. Lori says:

    Great transformation.

  36. tjsews says:

    Your top looks so much better without sleeves. it now looks cool and comfy. What a great job you did refashioning this top!

  37. MIchele Owens says:

    Thank you. This is so inspiring. I love reading all your entries. I am determined to make clothes that fit. I need all the inspiration I can get :)

  38. David says:

    Excellent job- and idea, perfect for summer – Have had the same idea this week with a pair of trousers. It makes me realise how much I love sewing when I have that freedom to alter the clothes myself :)

  39. Terry Kretzmer says:

    I always love seeing your posts but when i saw the original top, my immediate thought was, what happen that doesn’t fit like her other sewn items. Then I read and was much happier. It shows how well fitted you make your clothing and it is definitely worth the effort.

  40. linda r (phila burbs) says:

    you really are my hero! very well done and cute too!

  41. onedabbles says:

    What a transformation! The ‘new’ top looks so good and it’s a bonus to be able to use an item from your wardrobe. Being on the RTW Fast concentrates the mind wonderfully! Thanks for the fun opportunity.

  42. Nana says:

    Amazing transformation. The photo with the longer sleeves, just did not flatter you. Too busy or something. The revised version is beautiful and the blue color now looks very cool and comfortable for the summer season.

  43. Jo says:

    The re-fashion is beautifully done. I live in New England and vacation in Maine; the sleeves look pretty good to me! Jo

  44. sewgrandma says:

    Great Upcycle on your shirt. RTW Fast 2014 has done wonders for my sewing skills. I have purchased 7 Sewing related workshops on Craftsy since January. I watch them mostly while on the treadmill. Double bonus. Ruth in Canada.

  45. Sharon says:

    Great way to upcycle a garment, love the new sleeveless version.

  46. Katalin says:

    What a great idea! Your top turned out lovely!
    I really like how you always achieve the perfect fit. Do you have any favourite resources that you would recommend? I do own several books on fitting, but thinking that perhaps an online class would be more beneficial for me.
    Many thanks!

    • Thank you so much, Katalin :) I do own Sarah Veblen’s fitting book which has been helpful, but for me muslins are the secret of achieving a good fit for garments made from patterns AND basting those tricky areas before stitching. Craftsy has several good classes as well. Good luck!

      • Katalin says:

        Thank you Sara! I do own Sarah Veblen’s book and just enrolled on a Craftsy fitting class yesterday. Must add that I am very impressed with all Craftsy classes I have enrolled on so far!
        I’m thinking of watching the fitting class with my husband, so I would have a fitting buddy. Highly unlikely that this will ever happen, but one can dream. :-)
        Have a great day!

  47. Jean says:

    Fabulous refashion. That top looks so much better without sleeves and paired with your white pants will be a great outfit for the warmer weather.

  48. Amy G. says:

    Great Save! – I think it looks much better as a sleeveless top. You look Wonderful as always in your summer outfit.

  49. Jennifer says:

    Love your re-fashion! (Oh, how I envy your arms) And your commitment to the fast. I can tell from the comments that many sewers are inspired … and this former sewer (it’s been decades) is getting closer and closer to the return. Your blog is one that inspires me to get going….get a new machine…and get sewing! Thank you for the kick in the pants. :-)

  50. Barbara says:

    A very smart looking top now, a great fit.

  51. gingermakes says:

    Perfect! This looks great as a sleeveless top!

  52. Cindy C. says:

    Thanks to you, I’ve started a refashion bin to stash out-of-style favorites made in beautiful fabrics. Then when inspiration hits, a beloved old garment will be magically transformed (notice the wishful thinking there) into a lovely new garment. I never even thought this to be an option before seeing how you perform such miracles updating your old faves. What a great idea!

    • I need a bin like you, Cindy rather than stuffing unwanted clothes under my bed ;) As a matter of fact you have inspired me to go get a collapsable clothes hamper for such projects! Many thanks for your comment!

      • Cindy C. says:

        Oh yes, the old “under the bed” trick ! I’ve been doing that for years! But the problem is out of sight, out of mind, and some pretty things that could have been refashioned sadly end up aging out before they’re rediscovered. This way, it’s donate or bin, and the bin is out in the open where the pretty fabrics within can tantalize and call out to me. Hopefully it will work, and I’ll be interested to hear if yours does, too.

  53. Your top looks wonderful. A perfect alteration to make it a much more functional piece in your wardrobe :)
    For the armhole seam finish, Did you use the cover stitch instead
    of serging? Sounds like a nice way of finishing the armhole.

    • Ann, I am using overlock and serger interchangeably. I ran the edge through the serger to cover with a finishing stitch before turning and hemming :) Many thanks for your comment!

  54. Carolyn says:

    I’m glad you were able to rescue the top from the back of the closet! It looks fabulous on you!!!

  55. Ebi Poweigha says:

    I love how intelligently you altered the armholes — the finished top looks intentionally sleeveless, and very well fitted.

  56. What a win in the refashion column! The top is perfect & looks fab with those white pants! I don’t follow the Tim Gunn rule of getting rid of clothes I haven’t worn in a year either, but refashioning must count for something:-)

  57. Suz says:

    Brilliant! It really suits you and it fits perfectly.

  58. prettyfloralmail says:

    Brilliant! It really suits you and the fit is perfect.

  59. Joy says:

    It looks WAY BETTER sleeveless, in my opinion. And you would look good in a paper bag, so OF COURSE it looks marvelous on you!
    Hugs, Joy

  60. I have to cmment because when I first opened and saw the picture I thought I was looking at one of your first misses. It looked like a very heavy top on you. Viola…you turned a sows ear into a silk purse. Now it looks totally wondrful on you! I always stop in to your blog and love your posts. I too toally agree with you on Tim Gunn…love the guy but I keep favorites for years and rediscover and wear later and still love them. Thanks for a great post on refashioning.

    • Thank you so much for your nice comment, Laurie! You’re right – the top looked heavy, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason I never wore it other than it was generally too hot :) J McLaughlin fabrics are perfect for refashioning due to their excellent stretch and recovery.

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