Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fall Wardrobe Revamp 2012 - Fixing the neckline

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you make some good memories and have a great holiday with your loved ones. Living far far away from my extended family, I have learned to cherish those moments.
Here is the latest edition of Fall Wardrobe Revamp 2012. Here are the other tutorials of the series:

Plunging necklines have been biggest of my pet-peeves when it comes to ready-to-wear clothing. I don't understand why the retailers feel compelled to draw out necklines all the way to waist. Why not just make a strapless dress/top/tunic?
Anyway, that's how it is and short of just buying button downs and polos there's nothing we could do about it. Oh wait! there's actually something we CAN do. Fix that neckline, and its not that hard either.

pliunging neckline
Here's a tunic I recently found in the clearance section of Old Navy. It's a light airy cotton woven, with a beautiful print in turquoise and magenta. Had long sleeves ( something I prefer). The problem? Of course the neckline sits way too low.

find matching fabric to fix neckline
I looked in my scraps bin and found two knit fabrics that matched very closely with the tunic colors. Now I realize that not everyone hoards as much fabric as I do, but the trick here is to make it work with whatever you have. Probably you could find some yellow which is the accent color or black, or you had a tee in the same color which you wanted to retire. Just find some fabric that would look good with the garment and go from there.

sewing two fabrics right sides together

I used the hem of a tank top that I had re-purposed earlier. It had some stretchy lace on it which I thought was a good bonus. I cut a strip about 4 inches wide from magenta and 1 inch wide from turquoise. Then I sew them along their long sides ( right sides together).

This is how it looked after I ironed and top-stitched on the right side.

add-on fabric to fix a plunging neckline
Now place it between the front and back of the tunic such that the piece sits symmetrically at the neck and covers the 'V' to the point you would like. 
 Don't worry about the excess fabric hanging inside. We will take care of it later.

hand-bastic a fabric to fix plunging neckline
Now hand-baste the add-on fabric piece in place with running stitches.  If your add-on fabric has some stretch like mine, stretch it just a little while you baste it.
This will ensure that the neckline doesn't gape when you wear it.

I know most of you will cringe at the thought of hand-stitching but this step is important for a great fit and you can go as rough as you like. Just make sure the piece will stay in its place for half an hour max. That's all you need.

sewing the covering piece at the neckline

Now set your sewing machine on minimum speed and match the stitch length to whatever has been used in the original garment ( you don't need to be precise, just make a guess) now sew a seam over the original neckline seam ( preferably). You don't have to be very precise but it will be good to not have too many seams at the neckline, because its a highly visible part of the garment and too many seams may make it unappealing. If you go slow and steady, its not that hard to follow the original seam anyway.

excess fabric at the neckline of tunic

 Here's how the fabric looks on the inside. Now we can cut off the excess fabric.

hack off fthe excess fabric at the neck

 There! much better!

trying on the tunic to check teh neckline

Here is the tunic, modeled on me. No plunging neckline! yay!

painting the neckline

I could have left it as is at this point but since I had a couple more minutes in hand, I decided to take it up a notch further. The tunic had an interesting print on its hem and sleeve cuffs. I decided to see if I could recreate the look on my add on.

To do this I slipped a sturdy paper ( camera ad insert from Sunday newspaper) between the  front and back of my tunic. This would prevent any color bleed to the back of the tunic while I painted in the front.

fabric markers and fabric paints

 then I pulled out my fabric markers and Tulip Soft Fabric Paints. I drew the damask design on the neck fabric using fabric markers. Its actually quite easy but if you have never used them before, just try them on a scrap fabric first. I couldn't draw the whole motif on my fabric but I think it does have a fair resemblance to the original design. Then I filled the big flower in the middle with yellow fabric paint. Then I placed the whole thing on a flat surface to dry for about 2 hours.

And that's all! The tunic was ready, neck and all. I have already gotten many complements when I wore it to the office. I know its probably because of the colorful summery print and great fit, but I am just so happy that I didn't have to pass it because of the neckline.