Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Refashioned Men's Shirt

Here's a shirt I refashioned as a gift to my sister, done on a couple of afternoons in early May. She has been meaning to get some selfies of her wearing it, but as that hasn't happened yet, I'm going ahead with this post. {She's a professional photographer, by the way. You know, it's that old saying about the cobbler's children never having shoes to wear! (Check out her website and SmugMug for some beautiful portraits and nature photos!)}

Lisa sometimes wears men's shirts, as she is large and garments to fit are difficult to come by. She complained to me that the shoulders are always way too wide, and the sleeve heads fall to the middle of her bicep. So, the first thing I did with this shirt was to take in about 3 inches at the sleeve head by forming darts that extend down the front and back of the shirt. Sorry I don't have a detailed photo of this, but if you look carefully, you can see a dart on the right shoulder and front of the photo above. I haven't seen the shirt on her - we live far apart - but she said the darts went a long way to improve the fit.

I dug into my scraps and remnants and found two fabrics that looked good with the fine black and white plaid of the shirt. One is a seersucker woven check, the other a lightweight cotton tropical floral print.

Removing the buttons and the pocket gave me a blank canvas to work with. To create a slimming, vertical element, I made an elongated patch from the check fabric. I pressed the edges under and edge stitched them in place, sliding one edge under the placket edge. Easy peasy.

I made a long double-sided strip of the floral print to tuck into the side of the patch. I also cut the collar off. I left about a quarter of an inch of it to use as a base for the floral print, which is wrapped over the edge and stitched in place. I love the look of the collar!

Cardiac stitching adds accents to the placket. This is done with regular sewing thread and the stitch on my machine that sews each stitch twice. That gave a bold look to the stitching. The buttons are squared corozo nut disks, from Sawyer Brook (naturally). The shirt still buttons opposite of women's styles, because I wanted this to be an easy project, and remaking the placket would be a lot of work. Buttoned, no one will notice.

There is a lot of visual activity on the left side of the front, so I balanced it by placing the pocket on the lower right side. First, I added a double sided strip of the floral fabric, then I made a tuck in one side as I stitched around the edges.

The sleeves were full length. I cut them off and faced them with the floral print. They can be turned up to show the print, or not.

A couple of patches were added to the back yoke, along with more cardiac stitching on the collar stand.

This was an absolute blast to make. I haven't had so much fun playing with a garment in a long time! It was one of those projects that come together easily once you get going.

I have to give credit to Diane Ericson for inspiring me through a video Marcy Tilton filmed of her. She explains how she refashioned a shirt here. This is a must-watch for anyone wanting to do work like this. Once you see it, you'll recognize some techniques I incorporated in this shirt. Thank you, Diane (and Marcy)!

Lisa loves this shirt and says she gets lots of compliments when wearing it. I'll be sure to add selfies when she sends them. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the lower sleeves, as they're sure to show up in a future project!


  1. Oh, I really like what you did here, Dixie. I love the play of B&W prints. This is such a clever upcycle. And inspiring.

  2. We need to prod your sister along to get some pictures. You did such a fabulous job and you deserve some pictures of her wearing your creation.

  3. I love what you did to that shirt, Dixie! It definitely doesn't look like a man's shirt anymore. And thanks for the link to Diane Ericson's video. I hadn't seen it before. It's great!

  4. This is just brilliant ~ you are a very clever creative person! You have one very lucky sister to own this now ... J

  5. So great! It's wonderful that your sister shares your enthusiasm for this kind of garment - you do it so well, and she gets to enjoy wearing it!

  6. So wonderful, and the fact that it was a gift makes it even more special. Nice work Dixie!

  7. Thanks to all for your feedback. I appreciate you leaving comments. I'm going to prod Lisa into getting some photos taken for us real soon! She's in the midst of wedding season, so she's plenty busy.