07 September 2008

Refashion 6: Nurse Ratched Shirtdress from Two Mens Button Down Dress Shirts

"If Mr. McMurphy doesn't want to take his medication orally, I'm sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don't think that he would like it."
Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976)

And so began the end of my 2-month Wardrobe Refashion pledge.  I give you the Nurse Ratched Shirtdress, made from two white mens button down dress shirts!

First round of thanks goes to my friend Stephanie, who invited me to perform with her on her recent recital.  I told her about my shirt refashioning project, and at rehearsal a few weeks ago, she brought 5 shirts from her husband's closet for me!  What a doll!  Two of the shirts were white 100% cotton twill, so immediately my mind went to a shirtdress with a more reasonable hemline than my previously refashioned shirtdress.

I wanted to knock off a black shirtdress I bought a couple years ago, which lots of people compliment and I love to wear.  I imagined a white version I would wear under tunics, vests, etc.  For some reason - wishful thinking, perhaps? - I assumed two shirts would give me enough fabric to create the tiered skirt on the peasant dress.  I forget that all the shirring on the multiple tiers requires so much more fabric than an a-line skirt, so after I cut out the shirt (using that magical combo of Simplicity 4077 for neckline and collar and Simplicity 4179 for bodice and sleeves, and ending the hem two inches higher than the pattern recommends), it dawned on me that the second shirt wouldn't offer enough fabric for a tiered skirt.  So I went for a gathered a-line.

For the first time with one of these shirts, I unpicked the chest pockets, and it really wasn't bad at all.  I ended up using the chest pocket from each shirt as the two skirt pockets, which was an easy choice because they were simpler to sew than side seam pockets!

It took me FOREVER, as in almost two weeks, to put this dress together, probably because I was disappointed it wouldn't have that full, tiered skirt.  I suspected that the new shirtdress would be pretty plain, and suddenly lost any urgency to finish it.  After I tried it on, I immediately thought "old-school nurse".  I made a stern face in the mirror and laughed a diabolical laugh, and Nurse Ratched came to mind.  

But really, this is a blank canvas kind of dress.  I bought some dye, a la Tina's recent skirt post at glam.spoon, thinking maybe now I would finally have a yellow dress, but I haven't taken the plunge yet.  I was also considering fabric paint, maybe stenciling?  For now, in white, I see it worn as a layer underneath some nice transition (to fall or spring) pieces.   

I tried it with the corset but it didn't work for me.  What do you see in this dress' future?  Is there any hope for this dress?  I'm open to ideas!  Please bring them on!

25 comments:

  1. Followed you here via Wardrobe Refashion. Hi!

    I love this little dress, actually, just the way it is. While it might seem a little nurse-ish to you,to me it looks like a lovely, light dress for a summer day. Red belt, big red necklace, red belt and sandals, fabulous bag, and you'd be fabulous and non nurse like.

    I love it, I think you've hit a winner here. :-) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How about faux batik? You can draw on the fabric with Elmer's washable school glue, then dye it in a bath, then wash it out in hot water in the washing machine. Works a charm.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also likes the dress as is. . with the colorful belt. I'm a nurse. . .& wouldn't actually wear that to work:) Tee hee. . .way too cute for that. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like this a lot! Maybe you could dye it if you want less of a nurse look. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also love it as is! I think you can totally change the look by wearing different accessories and it will be incredibly versatile! But, if you want to change it a little, something else you could do is use paint to draw a design down one side of it, like a flower or a vine? Or, iron-on an amazing patch onto one of the skirt pockets. But I really like it as is, it's very crisp and refreshing and is a GREAT base to a LOT of outfits.

    ReplyDelete
  6. How about some reverse applique on there? Way cute!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. since my mom was a nurse, I can't see a white shirt dress any other way (although your work is impeccable). But sooooo much potential! a truly blank slate... dip dye just the bottom to create a gradation? definitely room for an applique or two... reverse or otherwise. can't wait to see what you do with it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'd do a bit of embroidery on the collar and maybe something to match on the tops of the pockets. The colors in the belt are great, you could do a vine or South American style motif to complement it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks great. How about some zig zag, machine sewn lines?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think some modern-floral embroidery would look splendid! In a bright green or pink, along the bottom edge or creeping up the skirt, so chic!

    Love the dress, it is masterfully done!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree with SuperCoolMom and Marie that some reverse applique and embroidery would look great.

    Check out the projects on Alabama Chenin's blog for inspiration, or better yet pick up a copy of their fabulous new book that's chock full of great projects. I just started it and can't put it down.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, and I meant to say that I love the dress! What a great way to repurpose boring old men's shirts. Nice job!

    P.S. I found you via the Craft Magazine blog.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree, the dress is very cute with the colorful belt, but maybe some funky colorful embroidery. Have you ever seen the Sublime Stitching site. Maybe some cute Matryoshkas at the bottom or something funky around the neckline would do the trick.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any chance you could provide a tutorial on how to turn men's shirts into a dress...i love to make one...please o please!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love this, always in favor of repurposing! i would add some colorful piping at the sleeve, on the placket and around the bottom, any color or print will work but will add class and take away the nurse-y feel of it! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is absolutely brilliant. I just love it & think the color is perfect to layer under cardigans & scarves, or over crazy tights. So cool!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a fantastic idea! I'm so inspired - thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. i like the dress as is, but it would look amazing with a pair of distressed frye boots and this wide leather tooled belt that is on sale for $30 bucks at urban outfitters right now online. i have the boots, i can buy the belt, now i guess i'll have to pilage my husband's closet and make the dress!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is SO cute! I think the big thing with this is to accessorize it, like eveyone is saying.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here's a thought...who says you have to make this dress with *white* dress shirts? Making it white and dyeing/accessorizing is fine, but you could always make the dress with two identical colored shirts, two differently colored shirts (alternate the color from shoulder to waist, alternate sleeve color, etc), or two patterned shirts. I've always envied the designs on men's striped dress shirts, I think they're much nicer looking than alot of the button down blouses women wear!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, I just found your blog and I love this dress.

    Hope you don't mind, I linked to you in a post today.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Pickashirt.com's objective is to offer you a quality custom hand tailored shirt to your measurements and your designs that is affordable and painless to order.
    http://www.pickashirt.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ric-Rac? (I do have a fascination with that stuff) Of different widths & colours on the bottom few inches? I love the dress and plan on making one with a few striped shirt the mr. just gave me to wok with. Perhaps an ombre with the darkest colour on the bottom so the top is white?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Good grief! You have a God given talent! You are amazing! Thank you! I had to favorite you in my tablet!
    Thanks for being a blessing!
    Nicki

    ReplyDelete

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!