Embellishment: Embroidery on Embroidery

I’m sure you remember this viscose embroidered blouse from last year:


In case you don’t: the back of the blouse became a transparent panel with an illusion neckline for my “Elvis” wedding dress which you can read about here.


Just to recap, the blouse was originally £4.50 from the Mind shop in Whitby.


I still had the front and sleeves left in stash. The front had a lovely tonal embroidery on it which was too good to throw away!


The idea for this one was to embroider over the embroidery in a contrasting colour, and then turn the pieces into a summer top.

Since the material was fragile, I hooped it with a layer of embroidery stabiliser. The type I am using is the clear plastic type that dissolves in water.


For the design, I took some of the leaf, fruit and flower shapes from the original embroidery.


I drew a design onto the stabiliser as a guide, using as many of the original design elements as possible, then started stitching in navy blue.


Here’s the whole design.


For the other half of the front, I traced the same design onto another piece of stabiliser, and flipped it over to make a mirror image on the other side.

DSC_0705 DSC_0707

There was nothing particularly difficult about the stitching. All it needs really is patience.


The design elements include leaves, berries…


…stems and fruit.


Here’s how the whole thing looked when I finished the embroidery (before I hand washed it to remove the stabiliser). I love this double embellished effect!


To turn it into a summer top, I made the front of the new top from the front panels of the old blouse, carefully cutting out the embroidered panels and French seaming at the centre front. The new top is made from a vest pattern I traced from a top I already own.

The panels turned out to be a little small for the embroidery to be placed where I wanted it – so some piecing had to be done, but I don’t think it’s noticeable.


The rest of the top is made from an off white polyester I found in my stash. The embroidered panels are used as an overlay to the front, hemmed separately.


Probably with the memories of the Elvis wedding dress in mind, I chose to use the same finish as I used on the illusion neckline for that dress. It’s essentially a folded edge with a tight zig zag over the edge, then the excess is trimmed.


After securing my rouleau loop straps I did the same finish all the way around the front and back necklines and armholes.

P1200491 P1200492

It’s not 100% perfect – a bit wobbly in places – but I really like the thin, lightweight effect this technique has.


I hemmed the overlay separately to the inside front and I really like how it falls – the overlay ended up slightly shorter which I think helps emphasise the fact that it’s a double layer.


This top got a LOT of wear on my recent trip to Majorca. We stayed in Soller and it was the perfect outfit for exploring the old, narrow streets.


It also did excellently as a day-to-night outfit, ideal for dinner outdoors in the balmy temperatures.


Looking at these pictures I possibly could have done with some more blue pattern in the centre front. But I do love it the way it is.


Since my shoulders weren’t covered, I needed my hat to protect me from the sun during the day, but no big deal.


The two-tone embroidery is such a lovely effect. In real life it is slightly shiny and also gives the piece an interesting texture.


I chose a fan to match my outfit from the local market, which ended up coming everywhere with me!









  1. Kasia

    Aww, so lovely, your talent for crafts is amazing! What I really adore about the final effect is that you can see the new pattern from far away and as you approach, the other texture becomes visible, giving it a lot of depth. Really, really cool :)))

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you so much, Kasia! You’re right, the blue pattern is very visible whereas the white is more subtle… I love this effect and will definitely do this again.

  2. April

    Beautiful. Embroidery is something that I naver learnt to do, but you have inspired me to look at charity shop clothes in a different way. Got fabric lining and invisible zip for £1. I aim to transform it into a long sleeved dress, it’s all unpicked and ready to go. Would never have done that without you.
    Thanks for being so inspirational. I’ve even started looking at men’s shirts.
    And so another journey begins

    • charityshopchic

      Hi April, you should definitely give embroidery a try! It’s easier than you think, especially if you start with something simple. I’m glad you’re enjoying charity shopping and so pleased you are finding inspiration from my small corner of the internet! Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

  3. rimazimchick

    What a great refashion. I have been trying to adapt a linen shirt for the past three months. I keep going back to it and cutting bits off, by the time I’ve finished it will be doll size! You’ve inspired me to go back and rethink my ideas. Thank you.

  4. vintagethrifter51

    Absolutely love what you did with the top. It looks so beautiful and unique. You are so talented and creative and I love seeing what your mind will think up with your fabulous finds. Cheers, Michele

  5. Fadanista

    What can I say? You are so clever! I immediately wanted one of these, as usual with your refashions, and think of all the white embroidered tops I’ve sent off to charity shops – gah!

  6. Lynsey

    Amazing refashion, I absolutely love the blue embroidery against the white, it’s so effective. The shape of the vest and neckline are both lovely. I often buy things in charity shops but usually things to wear as I find it hard to envision what it could turn in to. You give great inspiration, thank you

  7. Christina Schein

    Everytime I get an email norifying me of a new post, I get so excited!! You come up with such great stuff-and execute it with such talent! You are an inspiration. A slightly intimidating one, but an inspiration nontheless ;)

    • charityshopchic

      Haha, thanks Christina! No need to be intimidated, some of this stuff is really quite straightforward ;-) I’m so glad you are finding it inspiring! Thanks so much for reading!

  8. PsychicKathleen

    So beautiful! I love that it works equally well as a light summer top and a dressy evening top. You could wear it with anything and any time. Beautiful job. I love to see what people are doing with “refashioning” – it’s much harder to do than it looks :)

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you Kathleen! I have loved wearing this over the summer. You’re right, refashioning is harder than it looks, but I still think it is a great way to get into sewing. Thanks for reading!

  9. Michelle

    This is really, really gorgeous! I love the contrast of the black against the white and sheer. It’s impressive that you were able to get two distinctly amazing garments from the same shirt!

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks, Michelle! I like to be efficient ;-) Truthfully, using the embroidery was what I had in mind when I bought this, for the other project this blouse was just in the right place at the right time…

  10. Hélène

    Every time I start reading one of your post, I wonder: “What on earth is she going to make with this unwearable piece?” I just read on and the finished garment is always magnificient. What a creative talent you have. Please keep posting your re-creations as they are most inspiring!

  11. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly #48 | Helen's Closet
  12. Jo Three Stories High

    How the hell did I miss this!!! It is really beautiful. I made a top using the embroidery panel from another blouse that was ready for the rag bag before my hols and I wore it so much. Jo x

  13. Luisa

    I love your blog and I can’t wait for the next ‘re-fashion’! you are such an inspiration.

  14. SuzannaJuicy

    I often visit your page and have noticed that you
    don’t update it often. More frequent updates will give your blog higher authority & rank in google.
    I know that writing posts takes a lot of time, but
    you can always help yourself with miftolo’s tools which will shorten the time of creating an article to a couple
    of seconds.

Leave a Reply to charityshopchic Cancel reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s