#Earth Month Post #3: Cheap Fashion Upcycle

Refashioning a cheaply made item goes against my grain, but sometimes it is OK to do so. This is a beach cover up by the Banana Republic brand, bought years ago from the company’s outlet store.  I can see why it was in the outlet; can you spot the flaw in this picture? If not, I will tell you at the end of the post. There’s just that one flaw – the other construction seems to be pretty good for a “throwaway” piece like this.  This piece belonged to my daughter, was never worn and was hoarded in the closet for a long time. Well, it finally got its day in the sun, providing me with some quick, fun sewing time.



It was saved from being discarded because I loved the bright print, and the caftan like design. What would you have done? Here’s what I did:


Pros: Nice print, good shape, good length. The fabric is a soft cotton lawn, and I hated to “waste” it.

Cons: Too tight at the hip, the neckline too revealing (well, of course – it’s beachwear), and that one aforementioned obvious flaw (see below).


I removed the sleeves, opened up the side seams, discovering that the entire garment was serged with a 5-thread stitch, except for the topstitching; so, there’s that. Have you tried to undo a serged seam? If you can find that one thread in a serged seam, it unravels easily – but finding that one thread took forever.  And I did it, doggone it.

Fabric from the detached sleeves were used to fill in the low neckline as an inset. The sleeve band was placed on top so it looks designed that way.  The other sleeve was used to cut out triangular shapes to add “gussets” to the sides, with the orange bands at the bottom which form a continuous square-ish side slit on each side. See photos above.

Since it’s now a sleeveless garment, the leftover sleeve scraps were used to make bias facing for the sleeves.   I think I’m done!

Where do I wear it? To the beach? To bed as pajama top? Out to lunch with friends?  We’ll see where this casual tunic goes. Even if this cheap piece lasts just this summer, it will have been worth my time.  Just staying in the re-fashion pile would have been a waste.

Obvious flaw:

Well? Did you notice that the print is not aligned at the hem? The grain line is fine, so it must be a print flaw.


Have a fun, creative summer!



10 thoughts on “#Earth Month Post #3: Cheap Fashion Upcycle

  1. I flunked your test – the flaw wasn’t obvious to me. I love the colors, and the reconstructed neckline, plus nothing beats the comfort of a cool, light cotton. I’d wear it with lightweight cotton pants matching one of the colors. Maybe another sewing project?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been wearing it with charcoal grey pants, just to anchor the bright print. Next time I’ll try white or one of the colors. Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, I’ll have to make the bright pants since I only own neutral ones like navy, black and khaki.


  2. The grain is the first thing I look for. I will absolutely not buy offgrain fabric anydangmore. It always always always turns out badly, usually after about five washes. And then all that good work gets tossed or made into something much much smaller.
    Pants do turn into nice yoga mat bags. But I only needed one…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you about the grain. I am obsessed with the fabric grain being where it should. Unfortunately, this remake was a cheap Banana Republic cover up and we know why it was cheap. I think I’ll wear it a lot during our hot Texas summers and retire it come Fall.


  3. I love the front inset. Very clever adjustments to make the top much more wearable off the beach as well as at the beach. It looks great on you. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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