Friday, August 16, 2019

M7092 Sleeveless Top

A while back, my husband needed new undershirts. Out of convenience, he looked for some while at a nearby supercenter and chose four in a new-to-him brand. That was a mistake.

Woman standing in front of a porch rail wearing oversized t-shirt with stretched out collar.

The fabric is soft and has good stretch, but that's the extent of its positive points. Did you notice how the collar sticks up? Who could wear that under another shirt?

The four shirts had already been washed, and the packaging and receipts thrown away when we noticed the poor fit. I suppose we still could have returned them, but it didn't feel right at that point.

I thought I might remove then resew the collars to get them to lie flat. I set the undershirts over the back of my sewing chair and they were forgotten after my husband purchased replacement undershirts from a familiar brand.

A few weeks ago, I walked by the pile of undershirts for the umpteenth time. I remembered that I have some Rit dye in the laundry room, and an idea bloomed.

I’d been wanting to attempt garment sewing again — maybe pajamas so beginner mistakes wouldn’t matter as much — but didn't want to spend money on fabric. Why not change the color of those undershirts and reuse the fabric?

I followed the instructions on my package of purple all-purpose Rit dye to color three of the four undershirts, hoping the cotton content labelled on the shirts was correct. I’ll admit, I would not have been surprised if the dye didn’t take because the shirts were made from a synthetic material.

Wonder of wonders, the fabric really is cotton! And a lovely purple now, too!

This is where things get a little silly. Any experienced clothing sewist will probably wonder why in the world I cut up four men's shirts to make one semi-fitted nightshirt. What was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking that I want to get better at sewing from patterns. Learning isn’t about efficiency — that comes later.

McCall’s M7092 sewing pattern was already in my pattern library. I chose to sew View A, which is a sleeveless top. The upper bodice crosses at the center front with accent fabric at the neckline and gathers near the bust line.

I learned a few things from this project:
  1. I need to learn a good way to improve my size choices because, once again, I used the wrong pattern size. Based on my measurements, I needed to make at least a size 18. My pattern only went up to size 16. Since sewing pattern sizing is often too large for me, I thought size 16 might be fine. Measuring the pattern pieces themselves seemed to confirm this. But the finished top ended up at least two sizes too big. I took in each side by probably 1.5-2 inches  (3.8-5 cm) at the underarm then graded it out to the waist. It’s still too large in the shoulders, but for a sleep shirt it will work just fine.
  2. Reusing fabric from another garment isn’t necessarily a practical choice. True, I didn’t spend any additional money. But in the photos, you can see that there’s some excess fabric below the underarms and along the lower size seams; those are areas where I had to cross an existing undershirt seam, including an armscye, when cutting my new pattern pieces. I wonder if that worsened my problem with choosing the wrong size. In retrospect, I should have cut and sewn a new seam in those places to be sure the fabric was on grain and flat.
  3. On the other hand, reusing fabric isn’t all bad. I lined up the lower bodice pattern pieces along the bottom hem of the undershirts, which saved me from having to sew that hem.
  4. Quality of materials matters! I knew this already, of course. But one of my original dislikes about the undershirts was their uneven seams. Working with the fabric, I learned how much this fabric shifts during sewing — the uneven seams were (and are!) due more to the fabric type than the workmanship. I’m sure this affected the collars as well.
The pattern itself is labeled as “easy” and I agree that it is. I didn’t expect there to be four layers of fabric at the bust; if I decide to make this again as a daytime shirt, I’ll be sure to choose a lightweight fabric to account for those layers. And I’d like to point out that the accent fabric is only attached to the main bust fabric at the shoulders and under the bust, which would make this a discreet nursing top.

The best part? The dye color happens to perfectly match the purple sheep in my favorite pair of pajama pants!


  1. Super cute remake!! I love reuse. The bulging landfills thank you!

    1. Thank you! I have some other reuse projects coming up. I like that they push my creativity and are better for the environment at the same time.


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