Tank Top Transformed


Just a quick one today folks. I’d like to tell you about this rather ugly jumper that I bought from the YMCA shop in Middlesbrough for £2.99.


The overall shape is very ‘old lady’, and there isn’t a natural fibre in sight, but it has a pretty embroidered section around the neck in shades of blue and green.


Some minor tweaks were necessary. I cut off the sleeves first. The sleeves were machine-sewn onto the body using the same yarn in a chain stitch that’s often used for joining jumper sections together. It’s time-consuming to unpick as it’s difficult to tell which threads are holding the seam together and which are part of the fabric, but after some hours, it looked like this:


Happily, because the jumper was assembled as individual pieces, it meant that the armholes didn’t require finishing.

I also took in the sides, overlocking the new side seams to prevent unravelling.


The result is a blue tank top. Take note, Americans; in Britain this is the only type of garment that can be called a tank top. Specifically, it’s a sleeveless jumper. The kind of thing you’d call a ‘sweater vest’.

Since completing this project last summer I have worn it loads. I wear it over long and short sleeve shirts with a collar, and it’s great for spring/autumn when the weather is kind of transitional – a good alternative to jackets. Although it’s October, temperatures are still in the 20s here.

The below outfit gives you a good idea of how I have been wearing this. I’m wearing a charity shop men’s dress shirt that I bought on a trip to Upminster, Essex – sorry, I thought I had a picture of the original label for you, but I don’t. This has been a wardrobe staple for a year or two. I only wear it under jumpers because the body is too big, and the sleeves are rolled up because they’re too long, but… I still love it. I love wearing a men’s dress collar, maybe that’s just me. It never occurred to me to resize the shirt because it sort of works the way it is, but I suppose it’s possible I will make it fit better in the future. For that to happen it would have to come out of regular rotation for a while, and… well that’s not going to happen.

Anyway, I digress. We took some pictures on the way out to dinner near Pudding Lane, London. History buffs, this is where the Great Fire of London started in 1666, which burnt down practically the whole city! There is a Monument marking the spot which is a really tall column with a golden orb at the top. Unfortunately the whole area surrounding the monument is under construction at the moment, but we managed to take some pictures anyway. Enjoy!


P1170070 P1170061 P1170063 P1170065 P1170068  P1170076 P1170078

P1170080 P1170079  P1170082



  1. Toots Totes

    Superb-such a simple fix, but a great result-I will start looking at old lady style jumpers with a different eye now! Thanks for your inspiration!

  2. Juliana Leo

    What a great idea! Thank you for the insight. I have inherited a lot of vintage wear from my mother since she passed away, and some items are in great shape, but a bit dated. I will look at them with New Eyes after this. Juliana in Woodbine NJ USA

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Juliana! I am sure there are a lot of pieces from your mother’s wardrobe that you can wear, with a few tweaks. Some items may not need much, perhaps a change of hem length, to look more current, but it’s worth doing to preserve the memories! Good luck!

  3. MJ

    Wow! I did not think you could rescue this, but when I saw the first picture of it refashioned I exclaimed out loud, “So cute!” It looks great with that blouse. You certainly have an eye for diamonds in the rough!!

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks, MJ! I have worn this quite a lot actually, it’s quite a useful piece. The embroidery certainly caught my eye in the shop, I’m glad I picked it up!

      • MJ

        You are by far my favorite refashion blogger!! Some others do a fine job, but you are so creative, talented, and you do cute and realistic refashions. I am young, but I cannot wear these strapless refashions that are so easy to do. Many get by on strapless creations, or by being super skinny. Your refashions are actually wearable and would look good on many people. You are very inspiring. Good for you! I hope you do really well in life and with people, whatever you do!!

        • charityshopchic

          Well, that is very kind of you to say so MJ, I’m blushing! Personally, I’m not terribly comfortable in strapless things, mainly because it’s hard to find ones that fit me. And realistically, my day-to-day life doesn’t present me with many opportunities to wear strapless items.
          I do try to add depth and variety to my refashioning projects and am thankful that I have such appreciative readers :) Your support means a lot, thank you!

  4. mpthriftychic1

    Hi Sally! What a great find. This was an excellent way to take this granny “jumper” and make it fashionable again. Kudos for your patience in unpicking!

  5. alligatortoe

    Lovely refashion!! I have to ask though, because I am American and I know we have different definitions of tank tops, what do you call, well, tank tops that aren’t sweaters (or jumpers, if you must)?? Sleeveless shirts…? Haha thanks for clearing that up! ;)

  6. Kezzie

    What a super refashion! I saw it and thought, ooh, pretty details but unshapely and huge! You make it look gorgeous! The dress shirt is a super idea too! Ooh, what were you doing in Upminster?! I was there yesterday, but at 1am in the morning getting the District line home as we’d missed the train!

    • charityshopchic

      Charity shopping, of course! This was a while ago, but if memory serves the high street has lots of good charity shops. I scour London and the world for the crappiest clothes for your viewing pleasure ;-)

  7. yumyummoany

    THANK YOU! I shall get a man’s dress shirt, there are loads of them in the chazzas here. The tanky is lovely – I, am inspired!

  8. Molly

    A tip from someone who unravels thrift store sweaters for cheap yarn:

    If you look at the seams, you’ll see that on one side it’s sort of a broken line, like I bunch of I’s, and on the other side it’s a row of V’s. If you cut one of the V’s at the end of the seam, you should be able to just tug on the yarn and “unzip” the seam. It always takes me a couple tries to remember if the V’s should be pointing up or down when I do this, but once you get started it’s a matter of minutes before your sweater is safely disassembled! (If you look carefully, you’ll find a crocheted strand tucked in at the end of the seam– if you untuck it, that’s the end you should start from. But I usually end up finding it AFTER I’ve undone most of the rest of it.)

  9. refashionunique

    Reblogged this on Refashion_ Become Unique and commented:
    I really like the idea about ” Charity Shopping and Refashion”. People always buy a lot of new cloths before they think thoroughly whether they need them. Therefore, most of them are cast off. We are fighting for a sustainable fashion future, we should appeal people do some refashion work! It`s not only about how to “up cycling, it`s about “How do you design your life”!

  10. Gill

    Well done, to take such a ‘hideous’ garment and make it into something pretty and wearable requires great vision. I must try harder next time I’m charity shopping. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. rosannabuckland2014


    I am a marketing student studying at Bournemouth University, currently conducting a sector intelligence report on Charity shops and Vintage Clothing. I think your blog is great. To inform my research, I was wondering if it’d be OK to involve your blog as a form of content for analysis in the report?

    Best wishes,
    Rose Buckland

  12. notdeadthreads

    This post is fantastic. You’ve really embraced the idea of clothing recycling and what Op-shops are actually about. Saving yourself money and sustaining the environment, great work. It would be fantastic if in time we could have a greater amount of people partaking in activity such as this, do you agree? Keep up the great work.

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