Good Luck Friday Refashion: Stained Hoodie to Strapless Top

Today’s refashion is fairly simple. But I’m posting it anyway because I want to talk about waste.

I actually wrote this post a few days ago, but wanted to keep to my Friday refashion schedule. Serendipitously, I happened across a really neat Freshly Pressed post titled Crafting in Circles that said a lot of things that I think about when crafting. It’s hard to balance domesticity with freedom and creative self-reliance with twee kitcsh, isn’t it? Surprisingly so! And even when I am being self reliant, it’s tempting to just use up my materials in a haphazard manner. Well, they’re salvaged, after all. That means they’re already waste, I’m just reclaiming parts of it.

But how much fabric goes to waste on any given project/refashion? I find that sleeves, necklines, the bottom or top halves of shirts, and hoods often just end up in my scrap pile, too small to really use, too large to trash. But today I got a little bit creative in my thinking, with good results.

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This lovely “good luck” pseudo-asian-inspired hoodie is a bit too short in the arms (it belonged to my sister when she was a teenager) and has a big stain on it from an unfortunate incident where a packet of tie-dye leaked in a car trunk.


Sigh. It’s one of my favorite shades of blue on one of my favorite shades of green. And yet.

I didn’t want to donate it because so many donated garments end up in landfills anyway, and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting a stained, worn-out garment. Besides, I was in love with the variegated jade color and the flowers. It’s a really pretty hoodie minus the stains and wear, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

I knew I wanted to make a tank top out of it. Simple! Just cut off the sleeves, cut a straight line across above and below the main flower motif, sew up the resulting tube, and done.

But the back of the hoodie is great, all distressed and comfy and jade-y, and I didn’t want to destroy that nice expanse of fabric. I mean, what’s the point of pretending I’m environmentally friendly if I’m only going to use 20 inches total of a long-sleeved, hooded sweatshirt?


So pretty. And wrinkled. Shush, s’been sitting in a donation bag for literally years.

So I started playing around with it, looking at it from different angles and taking a measuring tape to every inch. I removed the kangaroo pocket and found, as expected, that there was a very visible fade line, which severely limited the amount of the design I could use.

HUGE difference

HUGE difference

Then, I removed the sleeves and cut them open. And, sure enough:

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9.5 inches

And 9.5 inches!

And 9.5 (well, 10) inches


So I cut out a 9.5-inch-long rectangle from the front of the sweatshirt, where the pattern is, pinned it to the sleeve, cut out the same size rectangle from the sleeve, and sewed up the sides.

I chose to finish the inside seams with bias tape (gifted from my mom) because I didn’t intend for them to really stretch, I want the shirt to last, I don’t have the right color thread and have too much thread to justify buying more, and I really need the practice in applying bias tape and seaming simultaneously.

See? I don't even...

See? I don’t even…

This is why we take our time.

This is why we take our time.

Originally I had planned on removing the bottom hem ribbing from the original sweatshirt and sewing that around the bottom of the new shirt, both to give it a more finished look and to add a little extra length so it’s not such a cropped bandeau. But it turned out that the ribbing around the wrists worked fine. Super stretchy! So that’s more material saved, a huge long strip of ribbing for a later project.

Streeeeetch and sew

Streeeeetch and sew

Finally, it was still a teeny bit too short for me; I like crop tops, but I have too many! So I took some material from the kangaroo pockets and made a band to go across the top. Straps just didn’t seem to be working with this shirt, so I left it strapless. We’ll see if I regret that decision. I usually do, but the sturdier sweatshirt material seems to be holding its shape well after one day of continuous wear, and it’s got the right combination of boob-mashing and ribbing cling to potentially work. It still is the slightest bit short, but that’s just going to have to be ok. If I had more than one pair of jeans (looooow rise at that) there would probably be a solution there.

Cut, folded, and basted top band. I wish I had an iron.

Cut, folded, and basted top band. I wish I had an iron. And green thread. I may go back over the whole thing by hand; I do have a tiny spool of heavyweight silk thread that matches exactly but won’t fit in my machine.

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I always forget to flex and push my chin out and all those other photography “tricks” everyone always suggests. C’est la vie

It’s a little bit boob-tastic and just a teeny bit shorter than I wanted, but hey — I’m fine with it. I’m noticing that I’m a little (ok, a lot) less conservative than most refashion/home sewing bloggers out there. But that’s ok; I’ll hang out here, at the intersection of dressing like a fashion blogger (well, a wannabe-fashion-blogger) and sewing like a sewing blogger.

Overall I’m pleased that the body of the shirt is a tad loose, that the color and shape are pretty good (despite the awkward curve of my tummy in this pic — I just ate a ginormous meal, I swear. Americanized Chinese, natch) and that I still have over 50% of a hoodie left. Maybe I’ll make a pieced skirt out of it, or something — haven’t decided yet, but I know I’ll actually have enough fabric for whatever it is!

How do you reduce waste when you’re sewing? Does it bother you? Or is it enough that you’re using some of the garment, since otherwise no one would use any of it?



  1. Cheyenne

    Love this! I especially love that you kept the message/design in tact, even when it was in a rather difficult spot to salvage. I keep as much as I can of scraps when I love the fabric, or if it’s a good solid color to be usable later. Otherwise, my local fabric store has a cool “drop or grab” box where you can leave scraps for others, and take what looks good to you.
    I have various bags with different sized leftovers. I’m not as talented as you are with sewing though, so they mostly get turned into appliqued bits and pieces to jackets, or the super small scraps get attached together into some feathery bracelet or cuff. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression, and I remember finding a box of hers where she wrote on top “little bits of string”, and inside were all of her thread cuts from machine sewing! I wish she was alive for me ask her what her plans might have been with them.
    Great post, great project, I’m inspired to not give up on my impossible project ideas.

    PS- I’ve used sleeves to create little “wine bag” style bags for my water bottles and jars on a sling strap for hiking/to-go.

  2. Jessie

    I would love a drop or grab box! That sounds so neat! I’m hoping to use the rest of the flower motifs in appliques like you describe, but I’m… not good at the technique just yet. Sometime.
    And I think it’s really neat that your grandmother had a box like that. I have to impulse to save the little bits of string, but I don’t know how to store/reuse them, and they just get tangled around everything and then my Compatriot gets irritated because his socks are tied to my office chair.
    I also like the idea of sling strap water bottle bags for easy access! Nifty!

  3. Pingback: Friday Favorites–Refashioned Clothing | Crafty Staci

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