12 July 2008

Refashion 3: Shirley Pintucked Tunic from Mens Dress Shirt

I'm glad I didn't let that last mens button-down dress shirt refashion get me down. :) It came out OK but I knew there was a better solution to reconstructing these generic mens shirts. I'd been staring down this second jewel from Lands End -- another 100% cotton pinpoint oxford with long sleeves and a button down collar -- like a boxer sizing up his opponent in the ring. I wouldn't have minded sizing this down as a collared shirt, but I really, really don't like wearing button down collars. I would have felt fine taking off the collar and keeping the collar stand, but the collar stand was angled all funky -- not meant to be a banded collar. I went through my pattern stash to see if anything jumped out at me, and luckily, New Look 6239 made itself known to me as the right pattern to launch this new refashion!

I sewed up this pattern as a dress almost 2 years ago. The dress looked great on the hanger but was still way big one me, even after drastic reductions from the side seams. I made a couple of key decisions:
  1. The shirt wasn't long enough for a dress so I would make the tunic.
  2. The back of the original shirt would be the front of my tunic so I could pintuck.
And so it went. The front bands came from the top of the original back of the shirt. The shoulder straps and back bands came from the sleeves. Based on the notes I left myself from the unsuccessful dress 2 years ago, I needed to take those bands in, so I took a total of 3" off at center front and back.

The bodice back was simple: When I laid the back bodice pattern piece on the front of the shirt, there just wasn't enough fabric, so I kept the pattern as on-grain as possible and redefined center back. The back of the tunic is gathered so this ended up being the no-brainer part of the project.

I laid the front pattern piece on the front of the tunic, which was actually the back of the original shirt, and moved it around until the side seam of the pattern piece ran right up against the side seam of my shirt. I traced all the pintucking lines that fell on the fabric, and I recall there were only 4 or 5, and got to pintucking. After holding this front bodice up to the front band, I saw that I had a lot more pintucking to do. So I just kept pintucking until the front bodice measured out to the same length as the front band. I ended up with a total of 10 pintucks/ 20 traced pintucking lines! Oh, New Look... your patterns are so cute. Can't you add a couple of sizes so I can fit without having to do such major surgery to the patterns?

Final note: I still think this is a bit roomy, and the front was a tad low for my tastes. I had a tiny bit of fabric from the shortened hem, about 11"x2.5", and I made a ruffle to raise the "neckline" a half inch or so. I didn't mean to like it as a design detail, but I kind of like it. From far away it looks like the ruffle and pintucking are a separate layer of fabric, sewn under the front band. Up closer it just looks like a but of fluff to contrast against the
formal pintucks.

Overall, I'm happy with this mens button down dress shirt refashion! I needed a win to stick with this 2-month refashioning goal of mine! :) My review of New Look 6239 is posted at PatternReview.com.

P.S. I recovered 15 buttons (!!!!) from this shirt.


  1. that is just darling... i need to be more adventurous with tops. I'm stuck in skirt land. ;)

  2. Hey lady, nothing wrong with a closet full of beautiful skirts, esp. when it's summertime! Thx for stopping by!

  3. What a great idea. Your top turned out perfect, I especially like the pin tucks and the little ruffle. So cute!!

  4. This is absolutely gorgeous. I LOVE it.

  5. What talent, I love this!

  6. Thank, Joy -- I actually was wearing this shirt today when I read your comment! :)

  7. Very clever and stylish creations. By the way... "Men's" is the correct grammar- with an apostrophe.

  8. Yay for trying again! I'm always having creative hiccups so it's great to see that you went at the project again. It turned out beautifully, and looks very comfortable!

    Pepperberry & Co.

  9. I love this top -- love the pintucking, love the ruffle, just love it!!!


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