Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Last Shirty Dress

These two shirts.

They were actually the first shirts I bought for The Refashioners 2015. I love purple, so when I found purple men's shirts at the thrift store, I snatched them up. I brought them home and had a plan for them. There was just one issue, these were size medium, slim-fit shirts. So there wasn't enough fabric between the two of them to make my original plan. Thus, I went back to the thrift store and got the orange and blue shirts to use for my original plan. I refashioned those. These got left on my pile. I refashioned a dress for my sister. These got left on the pile. Finally, I figured out what to do with these two.

Now, I love full skirts, and feel rather trapped in strait skirts, so that was my biggest issue with these shirts, how could I get a full skirt out of so little fabric? I could combine the two shirts in the skirt, but then would I have enough fabric for a bodice in just the sleeves? I had no idea, but I decided to give it a try with Simplicity 1801. It had enough different pieces in the bodice that I could mix and match the two fabrics and it just might work. So, I got started. First I took apart the shirts.

I seam ripped the side seams and removed the sleeves. The solid purple shirt proved most frustrating to disassemble. Not only were all the seams flat felled, they were also glued together! Someone did not want this shirt to come apart. But it did. I put aside the sleeves to be used for the bodice, then I laid out the shirt front and back pieces.

These would be the skirt.

I shaped each skirt panel by trimming off the arm holes at and angle. I also cut the button placket off the center back pieces. I figured I didn't need buttons down the back of my skirt, but I would need buttons down the front of my bodice, so I saved the extra button placket for that.
I sewed the skirt together, keeping the original shirt hems, so that the skirt had a scalloped hem all the way around.

Next I squeezed the new sleeves and bodice out of the 4 shirt sleeves. I had to piece together the bodice back.

And I didn't make the shoulders wide enough, which I realized when I went to attach the bodice back to the yoke, so I had to add two gussets at the top.

Even though they were last minute to fix a mistake, I think the gussets are a kind of cool detail on the back of the dress.

The bodice front went together much easier, until the very end at least.

I sewed the extra button placket onto the bodice, then sewed the bodice to the skirt. Since one shirt had black buttons and the other had white, I replaced all the buttons with some lavender ones I had on hand.

I chose to sew the extra button placket down the center front for two reasons, so that a) I could retain a feature of the original shirt(s), and b) I wouldn't have to put in a side zip like the pattern said to. I've used this pattern before, with wonderful results, so I figured this dress would fit me perfectly when it was done. It *almost* did. There was only one issue. The front gaped between the buttons and at the neckline. I doubled the amount of buttons on the bodice, which has fixed the gaping issue in my other refashions, but that didn't entirely fix the issue. It still gaped, just not quite as much. I really didn't want to give up, just sew the button placket closed and put in a side zip. So, instead I decided to hide the issue.

I did something I've done before when altering too-small garments. I sewed ruffly lace down either side of the button placket. The ruffliness of it hides the gaping! To fix the gaping neckline I added a drawstring (which I will probably replace with lavender ribbon at some point, ivory was just what I had on hand.)

Then the dress was done! Until I put it on and realized I'd forgotten something, pockets. If the dress didn't have pockets it wasn't going to get worn, so I went to add side seam pockets. Then I discovered why I'd forgotten to put in pockets, the skirt had no side seams.

So, I cut slashes, where the side seams would have been, to put pockets in. I sewed in pockets.

Then I sewed some leftover button placket over the pockets so that they wouldn't be to obvious. Perfect! Now I had a wearable dress!

With a very full skirt! This was, by far, the most frustrating of my shirt refashions. I am so glad to have it done!

As frustrating as the whole process was, I'm very happy with the final product. It came out almost exactly like my original design. Typically I sketch something out, then majorly change it once I start sewing, but not with this one.

This was the perfect refashion for me to finish Get Shirty! with. If I'd started with this one, I'm not sure I'd have wanted to do the other refashions. Honestly, If I hadn't had the looming deadline of the 27th to finish this dress, I probably would have set it aside for a looooong time at some point during the process of making it. I may or may not have finished it at some point in time. Now that would have been a loss, because now I have a wonderful new fall dress, which will probably get lots of wear in the coming months! Plus I completed my goal, I managed to refashion all 5 shirts before the challenge ends on the 27th. So there we go, the end of my entries for The Refashioners 2015. If you want to see some more completely awesome shirt refashions visit the Pinterest board  and Makery, the hosting blog for the challenge. Enjoy!


  1. I discovered your blog through your last Historical Sew Monthly entry, and I've been avidly following you ever since. I love your creativity! You are so talented. It's awesome to see the really involved historical projects as well as the simpler modern ones.

  2. Another fabulous refashion winner! <3 So cute on you, too.