Fashion Maths


Not sure if this equation balances exactly, but I think it’s pretty close.


Kylie is wearing Stella McCartney and looking fabulous! Anne Hathaway has also worn a version of this look, but not as flattering. Kylie’s version has big and small, black and white squares and some see-through sections.

I’m going to be making a Kylie-inspired shirt, not an exact copycat this time. I’m starting with this shirt, which fits well enough but could do with livening up a bit.


I paid £3 for this in the Trinity House Hospice Shop in Streatham (reduced from £4!).


I started by thread tracing the style lines onto my blouse in red thread. I redid these a couple of times until I was happy with them (Click to enlarge pics below, you can just about see the red thread).

I separated it into three main sections. The body of the shirt is the first, up to the top button. Next is the area with big squares, which includes the entire neckline; it has a sweeping curve under the bust on the left. The third area is Kylie’s see through shoulder – which I am making in white. My version is a bit simpler than Kylie’s; I decided against a second see through section below the big squares.

P1120141 P1120144 P1120145

What I did next was to place the shirt onto some tissue paper and draw around the whole thing. I then had to trace my red thread lines onto the paper as well. I used a combination of pins, tracing wheel and guesswork. Then I checked all the pieces to make sure they were symmetrical, that the curves were the same length etc., and added the button placket and seam allowances. The hardest part was the dart on the big squares section.


Next step was to make a quick toile. I am using a yellow sheet here!

P1120215 P1120216 P1120217 P1120219

Happily it all fit together reasonably well so I went ahead and cut out my pieces. I used some thick black and white cotton I bought locally as well as some thinner white cotton muslin-type stuff.

P1120255 P1120256

Here’s the inside. I’m using the same white cotton, cut on the grain, as an underlining for the bias-cut big squares.



Assembly at this point looked reasonably good…


…so I went ahead and cut off the top of the original shirt, leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance…

P1120260 P1120261

…and sewed the whole thing together.

P1120264 P1120265

At this point, I tried the whole thing on in front of the mirror. It didn’t fit. The button placket at the front was overlapping by about 2″ at the neckline. Argh! Not sure how this got through the toile stage as it was a fairly big error. After umming and ahhing about it for a while, I ended up unpicking my plackets and taking a 1″ triangular wedge out of the centre front (both sides). This meant the plackets were no longer at 45 degrees to the stripes/squares, so the pattern didn’t match up as nicely. I also mis-cut the button side, so ended up with no placket there at all. Measure twice, cut once, people!

I added bias strips around the neck and armholes for the full Peggy Olson effect.

The result is not perfect, but I’m happy! I think it’s pretty wearable. I think this can be dressed down as well as up, but here are a few shots of me wearing this as part of a fairly smart outfit.

The pictures were taken in the vicinity of the Olympic Park. I have seen the Orbit so many times but it’s still very impressive.

P1120332 P1120335 P1120339 P1120342




  1. Sarah

    I love the final outcome, it’s different but totally wearable and I love how you used the inspiration to come up with something really unique. Brilliant work!

  2. jasperizer

    Idon’t know why Kylie’s outfit makes me think of Janet Jackson at the superbowl. I feel safe with your version.It’s fabs!

  3. sewlikegrams

    You are critical of your own work and very hard on yourself; you shouldn’t be. It may not have turned out exactly the way you anticipated but it is far beyond that of the average sewer so celebrate your creations! I’ve bought clothes in shops only to get them home and find that the seams weren’t straight, buttons were almost falling off and/or something else wasn’t right. You are by far a more accomplished seamstress than most so kudos to your mad sewing skills!

    • charityshopchic

      Hello there and thanks for the kind comment. Like most people, I’m my own worst critic. I live by the rule that if a non-sewer couldn’t spot your mistake from 3 feet away, then it’s not a mistake. Thanks for reading!

  4. ClaireE

    Wow, what a transformation. I would never have thought about recreating it – probably too lazy at the moment to work it out at the beginning but now I’m inspired to give it go! It looks great on you.

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Claire, you should definitely try this at home! You don’t have to start with a shirt – in fact this would be easier if you used a commercial shirt pattern and just cut it into pieces. Have fun!

  5. Cathy Davies

    Hi Sally,

    I love the look!! You are very talented. I’d like to learn more of what you do-the pattern drafting part. I currently try to copy/combine styles I see, but I use commercial patterns and mix them up. Can you give me any tips on how you learned to draft your patterns?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Cathy, thanks for the supportive comment. My best tip is to get a good pattern-drafting book (I recommend Metric Pattern Cutting by Winnifred Aldrich, that’s the one I use) and practice, practice, practice! I learn the most from my mistakes. Hope that helps.

  6. aem2

    I’ve been lurking for a while now, and I’m awe of every time you frankenstein a shirt/dress/suit. It looks amazing — so much more wearable than the inspiration dress.

    I also like your ‘3 feet’ rule; I tend to refer to my mistakes as ‘design choices.’

    • charityshopchic

      Hi, thanks for de-lurking and welcome! I love to dissect things and Frankenstein them together in my sewing lab.
      The three-feet rule is sometimes reimagined as a six-feet-in-a-dark-pub rule, depending on the project ;-)

  7. Michelle

    You’re so clever! Really, I have no idea how you come up with the things you create. I love coming here to see what you’re up to. It’s always worth the visit.

  8. whippedlife

    I can’t get over your skills. Out of this world craftsmanship EVERY TIME…I have total talent envy- you are F A B U L O U S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • charityshopchic

      It’s not – I cut the shirt off above the top button. I suppose I could have added another button above that (or a press stud) but it lays closed so doesn’t really need anything else.

  9. Billie

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have just never posted, but I must say, I think your creations are terrific!

  10. jenny_o

    I like your version better by far. It is unique but wearable. The original draws my attention the way a train wreck would (not good!) while yours inspires more of a “how neat is that!” reaction.

  11. Agy

    Oh my goodness, this looks really great on you. Your workmanship’s great, Sally!! Another winner here :-)
    Btw, did you learn how to do pattern drafting?

  12. Trish

    Another fabulous recreation. Your sewing and pattern drafting skills are totally awesome!!

  13. lovenicky

    This is ridiculously fabulous! Thanks for the step by step guide.( I’m delusionally thinking that if I get myself a dressform, I would be able to make something one tenth as fab as yours! :-)

    • charityshopchic

      Hi, thanks for the kind comment, glad you found the details helpful. You don’t really need a dressform for something like this, it’s not essential. Most of the work is done flat (on paper) or on myself in the mirror. Having the dressform does make it easy to photograph the stages for blogging purposes though ;-)

  14. Claudia

    Wow Sally, you have mad sewing skills ! Those curves are NOT easy to sew and to lay flat ! It is impressive ! It blows my mind that you don’t have any formal sewing training ! You are a true artist :) Looking forward to see what you do on Refashion Runway !

    • charityshopchic

      You’re so sweet Claudia, thank you! So glad you like this piece. The cotton fabric was very easy to work with, so that helped a lot. Stay tuned for round 1 of Refashion Runway… coming soon!

  15. Jere

    Flippin’ fantastic! I didn’t really like the look of the dress at all, kind of made her look like she was missing one breast. I would buy this shirt it a heart beat. Great design.

  16. Jean

    I like your blouse better than the designer dress and it could be lengthened into a dress and look nice. So, have you been hired by a fashion designer yet?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s