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Angel Wings T-shirt Mod

Today’s WordPress daily post prompt is “Do You Believe in Magic?” Now, one of the things I’d like to do more of this year is to make sure I post regularly. I’ve been lax about posting because I keep wanting things to be just so, but the search for perfection stops me from completing things, or—when things get bad—starting them at all.

So. This is slightly tangential, and I may address the prompt directly later, but I had planned on posting this today even before I saw the prompt post…

When I was working at a dance company a few years ago, we did a dance festival, and the festival organisers gave us t-shirts. I don’t know about you, but i find that freebie t-shirts generally don’t flatter. They might be of decent fabric, and sometimes they have great designs, but the shape of the shirt just doesn’t work.

The day after we got our shirts, I saw several dancers in their t-shirts, and they’d all customised their shirts. Off came the hems! In went holes and rips! They looked spectacular. It didn’t hurt that the dancers all had lovely bodies, but that’s not the point. The point was that 1) no one shirt looked like another; 2) the shirts all reflected their owners’ personalities; and 3) they fit better, and were easier to move in.

I’ve never forgotten that. When I re-started pole classes back in 2012, I was looking for cover-ups to wear to class. I didn’t want to buy workout gear that didn’t fit or flatter me anyway, and I wasn’t skinny enough to feel good about doing class in just a bikini. (Still am not, but we’re working on that.) So I Googled “customising t-shirts”, and came across a BuzzFeed list of ways to cut up, lace, and otherwise modify t-shirts. I liked the look of 29 and 30 in particular, and tried something similar with an ancient school t-shirt.

It worked. The ventilated nature of the t-shirt kept me cooler in class, while still covering up the extra weight, and I loved the way it looked. But for one reason or another I never made another one, till today. I’d been thinking about a tank-top I used to wear back when I was skinnier. It was a white racer-back, with big fluffy white angel wings stitched along the shoulderblades, and I got to wondering, “Can I do that with a laced-back t-shirt?” So I pulled out a white t-shirt, a pencil, and my sewing shears.

First I started with a pencil sketch on paper.

Then I transferred the sketch, roughly, to the back of the t-shirt. I drew large wings on the shirt, over the shoulderblades, sweeping down to both sides of the waist. Then horizontal lines across the wings to mark where I’d cut. Mind you, I had no idea if it’d stretch out of shape once pulled…

Next up, cutting! Hey, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just pretend they’re parallel ladders, and that I’d always meant for it to be like that…

So here we are with all the bars cut for one wing. Now to start lacing…

I got carried away! It was only at this point, after I’d finished one side, that I realised I’d forgotten to take photos of the intermediate steps. Well done, me.

Anyway, what you do after making the horizontal cuts is just pull the bars. Grab hold of the fabric between the horizontal cuts and just pull. Yes, it’ll stretch out of shape; that’s the point. Yes, it’ll look horrible. No, it’s meant to do that, really. Hang on. We’ll get there. This is what it looks like with all the bars of fabric stretched into big loose loops.

Now pick up the top loop. Pull it over the next loop, the one below it. Pick up the second loop, through the first. Pull the second loop over the third, and pick up the third.

Here, have a video. It’s easier to see how than in photos.

Once you get to the last loop, you have a couple of options. You can either stitch it down, or cut the last loop in the middle, and knot it over the second-to-last loop. I was feeling lazy, so I did the latter.

And here’s the finished product!

It doesn’t look as dramatically wing-like as I’d hoped for, but it’s pretty close. I also cut the armbands off, and the hemline and neck finishing will probably come off too, so it doesn’t bind as much.

And, uh, I didn’t take a photo of me with the shirt on, because the wings sweep pretty low on to the butt, and I wanted to show the entire length of wing, but I sure as hell didn’t want to show the Internet my butt.

I’m quite pleased with this shirt, but already I’m thinking of ways to modify this for the next time I make it!

(Sorry about the crappy photos and lighting, but honestly, I’m fighting this year to stop letting perfection be the enemy of done!)