30 July 2008

Refashion 5: Shirtdress from Mens Button Down Shirt

My refashioning experience has gone on for less than a month, and truthfully I have been feeling a little stale on it! So I went to the mall last night -- nothing purchased, mind you -- just to try on some items for fresh inspiration. I tried the high-waisted thing, both a skirt and a pair of jeans. I love feeling like sausage in casing but can't imagine how I would keep my clothes looking great throughout the day with all that neat tucking that's required!

But back to the regularly scheduled programming: mens button down shirt refashions. I finished my fifth refashioned garment from my husband's castoff dress shirt. I was grateful for a really nice shirt to work with rather than the $1 bin shirts from my last few refashions. I think I was at the store with my husband when he bought it, and in fact I believe I advocated for this shirt, because I loved the cheery colors and gently striated texture. But a few years later, he doesn't wear it anymore and it was contributed to my refashion stash.

This shirt didn't want to be anything other than a shirt dress. It deserved to keep as much of its original fabric as possible. It's a Perry Ellis shirt, and the construction is light years ahead in quality compared to the Lands End shirts and the crazy tuxedo shirt from earlier this month! I carefully ripped seams on this new shirt, almost out of respect for the way it was originally put together, but of course this took a long, long time. I did need the bodice front to be as wide as possible for bust darts, so having the extra 1/2" from the side seam allowance was a good thing. Also, the collar was well done, and the collar stand was a nice, normal shape, so I wasn't sure how much of the collar I wanted to keep it. It's a collar whose proportions were meant for a 6' tall man with reasonably broad shoulders, not a 5' tall woman.

With the help of Simplicity 4118, I cut out my new bodice front and back while keeping the entire neckline and shoulder seams intact. This got a little tricky but it was do-able. I couldn't decide what sleeves to put in... short or 3/4, puffy or flat, etc. etc. etc. In the end, with such clean lines, I opted for short, non-puffy sleeves.

As for the collar... I wore the dress with the big collar to drop Louis at summer camp yesterday morning, and promptly drove home to rip it out. It was just too big and cumbersome compared to the lightness of the dress! Plus, I looked like Flo from Mel's Diner (Alice). It screamed waitress. And now? Wearable, enjoyable, just a little too short, but overall a good experience. Great dress for a hot summer day, like yesterday (and like all our days here until October).


  1. I love going to the mall for inspiration too. Since I seem to only be sewing kids clothes these days I take my kids to the toys and check out other kids outfits. But you inspire me to want to make more clothes for myself. I love the Alice look. Cute! I know I keep saying this but you're seriously talented.
    Thanks for the "love pants" comments. It's nice to hear good feedback. And yes, I NEED "I heart Chocolate" pants too. Maybe that'll be the next project.

  2. Wow! It looks fabulous. Very chic!

  3. I tend to get most of my inspiration online, either from other crafters or from sites like Anthropologie (I love their overall aesthetic, and stealing ideas from them blatantly!)

    It's a great shirtdress. I love the color, and I agree that taking the collar off was probably a good move. As for feeling stale on the refashioning, just out of curiosity, do you have any plans to attempt things that aren't made-over men's shirts? Just to try something different. Not saying give up the men's shirts at all, because you've done some great stuff with them! :)

  4. Dana, I think you are being way too generous in your comment, but I thank you for appreciating my projects! And thanks to everyone for your comments, too.

    Becky -- yes, I will definitely expand my refashioning exploration beyond mens shirts. That was a self-imposed creative choice for the 2 months of my Wardrobe Refashion commitment, mainly b/c I thought of all the guys I knew who could offer something to the cause. I have been accumulating a stash of other kinds of garments to refashion but probably won't get into them much until after August 31. I want to get through this creative dip period with the mens shirts b/c I think that there may be something even cooler on the other side! Thanks for asking, and letting me process my response. :)

  5. You are amazing. :)And the dress looks great on you!

  6. I've got several BurdaStyles in the works, at least mentally...what I cut out yesterday was the Sadie tank top, and I'm also going to be making a slightly modified version of the Jane pajamas (pattern's ready to go, but my fabric is uncut as of yet.) I also have plans/stash fabric to make a slightly modified version of the Eva jacket and the Nichola pants. There's definitely several other things I want to play with on there though (the JJ being one of them--again, I have a modification in my head!)

    As for Suede, I never thought it was self-mockery with him. He just struck me as that full of himself.

  7. Hey, it's me, kdburkhardt from sewing pattern review (I have a blog, it's just boring and not about sewing, yet!)...

    Have you thought about putting a ruffle (a flow-y one, not a really tight ruffly-ruffle) on this dress, if it feels too short to you? I think the length looks fine, but a ruffle could be a way to go (though maybe it would interrupt the clean look too much...hmmmm...) Just some thoughts!

  8. That is too cute! I was going to repair one of my husband's dress shirts, but now I might steal it for my own refashion!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I bet a ruffle would work at the bottom of that, and let you add a few inches. (Or a longer underskirt, if you wanted to avoid (re)altering the dress itself.)

    Thank you for these posts! I have absolutely no eye for the potential in an otherwise unwearable garment, so I am dependent upon bloggers like you for inspiration. ;)

  10. Hey! I really like the look of this shirt! Um...could you post a step-by-step guide for this at all? I'm new to sewing so that'd be great. Thanks! Or if you could just give me some hints!


Hi! I'm so glad you stopped by. If you have a specific question, be sure to leave your email address or check the box to receive email follow-up comments so I can answer your question! Thanks for commenting!