Tag Archives: Customized

Thrift Shop Shirt Makeover

Quite frankly I can’t keep up with the weather. I have lost count the amount of times I have had to switch between a jumper to a dress, from boots to espadrilles, from cut off denim shorts to a coat (you get the picture). Don’t get me wrong I never say no to a glorious bit of sunshine, it’s just I find it a little exhausting planning the daily wardrobe when you have to factor in such a changeable climate.

With that said, I found myself with a slight clothing quandary on Saturday morning when I was woken by the searing sunshine piercing the blinds in our bedroom. Filled with the joys of summer, I rummaged through my wardrobe looking for the perfect summer outfit. I was off out for lunch with friends and wanted to make an effort. However, and as I can imagine all the ladies out there can relate to, I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to wear. Through all the clothes I had, nothing quite matched what I was thinking.

That was until I found a mens shirt that I had bought at a local charity shop, which I had planned to make into a sleeveless tie front top. Perfect I thought, this is exactly what I need.

So, here is how I made a lovely summer top out of an old mens shirt.

1. I had to firstly cut the sleeves off the shirt. I measured out exactly where I wanted the new sleeve seam to sit by trying the shirt on and marking out with quilting tape on one sleeve. After taking the shirt off I matched the exact same measurments on the other sleeve. I then used my fabric scissors to cut a clean curve and sew a new seam on both armholes.

2. I then repeated this with the hem. I measured out with quilting tape where I wanted the back hem to sit and followed this line through to the front of the shirt. I then used the tape to create a slight ‘S’ shape that curved towards the bottom of the button placket to create the ties. Again, I cut away the excess fabric and used the sewing machine to sew a new hem.

3. I then decided to ‘pretty up’ the shirt by cutting the existing buttons from the shirt and replacing them with new ones.

4. A quick press with iron, some denim cut-off shorts, a necklace and some red lipstick and I was ready for lunch with my friends.

So there we go, get your hands on your husband’s, boyfriend’s, dad’s or brother’s shirt (or you can also search your local charity shops) and get cutting. They really do make gorgeous summer top’s that keep you cool in the sun.

Put your Feet Up

If there’s anything we’re always on the prowl for it’s an old dusty bit of furniture, crying out to made into something else. It’s a tricky thing of course, because at one time it would have sat proudly in someones home, being just what it is. But we can’t help it. I see a twist here, Anna spies a curve there and the next thing you know we’re making a table into a footstool.

In my mind, I thought I’d stumbled onto a winner. Lovely curved wooden legs, like some kind of retired exotic dancer, peering out from the back of a charity shop. Although once getting home it seemed I’d been duped by the tables’ evocative powers. Sadly up top she wasn’t in great shape. It just didn’t feel right to paint, polish or even worse……… bite the bullet and throw the table away.

So with a little wave of Anna’s upholstery wand, that ugly duckling of a coffee table was turned into a beautiful swan of a cushioned ottoman style footstool.

What you need to make your own

  • An old table from a charity shop
  • Sandpaper, paint and wax for finishing
  • Foam – around 7cm thick
  • Spray glue
  • Cotton batting
  • Some old fabric for upholstery fabric. We had some leftover from the make your own ipad case blog
  • Staple gun
  • Buttons and string
I thought I’d fail at the first hurdle trying to get the top off. At one stage I was using a broom stick to lever it out, only to discover I’d forgotten to remove one of the screws. Slightly embarrassing. Hopefully you’ll sail through this bit and straight onto stripping down the table legs to remove all the old varnish. This is also the best time to cut down the legs if your table is on the tall side. Paint, wax or varnish to the finish you’d prefer.
Lay out the foam on a flat surface and place table upside down on top. Draw around the edge of the table onto the foam to make your template. Cut the foam with a serrated knife, a bread knife will do. Spray one side of the foam with glue and position on top of the table. Measure and cut a piece of cotton batting to cover the foam. You’ll need a bit of excess of around 6cm at the edges. Place over the foam and staple in place. Start from the middle of each side and leave a space in the corners. This will let you finish the corners like you would with a flat sheet corner on a mattress.
Lay your fabric over the top of the cotton batting and repeat the stapling process. Cut off any excess fabric, before screwing the legs back on. Then make a cup of tea, pat yourself on the back and take a seat.

Tip; If you’re going to add buttons drill holes into the table top before covering so you have something to tie the string round.

Fixie Racer Conversion


I’ve always fancied the idea of a fixie and thought why not give an old clapped out racer a new lease of life. I found an old Dawes racer at the Brighton YMCA who have a load of old bikes. They recycle all old bikes forgotten, and left locked up around Brighton. I was specifically looking for a 70′s racer as has a rear drop which allows me to add tension to the chain. The newer bikes don’t seem to have this.

Screwdrivers, Allen Keys, Cone Wrenches, Cable Cutting tool, Plyers, Crank Puller, Socket Wrench and a Hammer. I found a really good bike tool set from Halfords for under £20 which had everything I needed, plus some tools I’ve never worked out or will probably ever need!

Stripping the bike
The bike was incredibly rusty and greasy so it took ages to try get the parks apart. I started with the easy stuff like cables, brakes, wheels etc. The part I got really stuck on was removung the crank. You’ll need a special tool for this called a crank puller. Don’t use a hammer as it will do more damage than good and the tool was under £10. Watch this video for tips on how to remove it.

Removing a bike crank with a crank puller

Once I got all the parts taken off the bike it was time to clean the frame up before spraying it. There was a fair bit of rust which I had to get off and stripped as much paint off as possible. You can look to get it stripped down through sandblasting for a really clean finish, but I thought as this was first fixie re-build I wanted to keep the costs down. It took ages but I managed to get it as smooth a possible.

To start the spraying I used grey primer for the base coat, which was a spray tin available from any car body shop. Most of the tips I found were to use many light coats, side to side spraying and not to do it close. I sprayed the bike outside as there was little wind or rain, below is an example of the forks with the full primer undercoat. After it dried I used a gloss black as the final coat. Again, I used many coats to build up the final finish and then left the finished parts to harden in a hot shed for a week.

Putting it all back together

I think this probably took the longest amount of time, in no part due to the work, but mostly because I’d misplaced all the parts and they took ages to clean the old grease off. I managed to source new rims from Ebay and installed two options on the rear. A fixed gear and a normal single gear. The idea is to just switch the wheel around if you want want it fixed or not.





I found some classic pedals with brown leather straps to match the old school brown bar tape. They’re all from the Old Bicycle shop, check out their site if you’re looking for rare bike parts.

This was a great weekend project, and made me feel like I was kid again mucking around with my old bike parts. Highly recommended!

View a gallery of the fixie project – Photo Gallery