A shirtdress MADE OF SHIRTS

by Erin on August 15, 2014

So as you all already know, I love shirtdresses. Love ‘em. Buy tons of shirtdress patterns! Which then languish, mostly unmade, in my sewing lair.

Because, as it turns out, I love shirtdresses, and I really really love shirting fabric, but I am not really enthused about:

  • sewing buttonholes
  • making plackets
  • creating collar stands

So a while back I saw a really cute project where someone (uh, Martha Stewart) had used an old men’s shirt to make a dress for a little girl, and I thought, “Hey, what about …”

Shirt-shirtdress front

Behold, a shirtdress made of old men’s shirts. Here’s the bodice, which uses the collar and placket and sleeves of a man’s shirt.

Shirt-shirtdress bodice

I kept the collar buttons for the center skirt piece, because: why not?

Shirt-shirtdress skirt front

The sleeves are bound in bias tape made from (you guessed it) shirts.

Shirt-shirtdress sleeves

Different bindings for each sleeve. Note the visible french seam here in the bias binding, I really liked it.

Shirt-shirtdress sleeves (#2)

The skirt is an adapted BurdaStyle Heidi skirt! And as you know, I think you can never have enough pockets:

Shirt-shirtdress shirt/skirt pocket

I originally made this too long, but I really liked the effect of keeping the shirt-tail hem as the “skirt-tail” hem. So I just cut the hem off, then reattached it with more “made from a shirt” piping. (I very rarely meet a seam that is not improved by piping.)

Shirt-shirtdress hem & piping

Here you can see the color-blocking of the different shirting patterns, and the SECRET POCKET inside the pocket.

Shirt-shirtdress pocket and skirt (with bonus pocket)

Each pocket has a secret pocket. Oh and I piped the pocket edges with more bias trim made from a shirt, because why not?

Shirt-shirtdress side pocket and skirt with bonus pocket

Here’s the (inexpertly-ironed, it was late) back view:

Shirt-shirtdress back

I wore the longer version of this last weekend and loved it. SO comfortable and fun to wear (although the previously very long length made it more difficult to walk in, and weirdly made it feel slightly more “Japanese designer” than my usual efforts). Thus the skirt-shortening.

Because I like how this turned out so much, I plan to make another one (or possibly two — I bought a lot of old shirts at Goodwill!) and post a full tutorial. You know, the kind with instructions and pictures and everything. (I have a few tweaks I’d like to try, like maybe doing tucks instead of darts in the bodice and making the skirt fuller with a wider center panel.) This is really ridiculously easy to do, once you have the model of how it should work straight in your head. (The tricky parts to figure out were how to bodice-ize the shirt and how to get the skirt hems to line up nicely.) Everything else is a “simple matter of engineering”, as they say.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Margo August 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I love it and would love to see a tutorial! The pockets within pockets are the best. I may be able to figure it out, but it would be great to see your tips and thoughts.

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Kate August 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Wow a tutorial. I just had to check I was reading the blog I thought I was. Looking forward to it.

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Erin August 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I know, right??? It’s been years since I did a tutorial. :-)

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Marika August 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

This is amazing! Love it!

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meara August 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Ooh! That is awesome, and a great idea. Which is so tempting, but my skills are probably not up to making it actually LOOK good. But…but…thrift store shirts…hmmm.

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Susan August 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I adore this. How many shirts were involved in this – four?

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Erin August 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Maybe five? I had a lot of fabric left over. I think with careful planning (and large sizes) you could get away with four, no problem.

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kathleen August 15, 2014 at 8:08 pm

This is genius

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Sian Meikle August 15, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Wow, this is flat-out *brilliant*! You’re right – button holes and collars are the worst to make, blech, way too fiddly and visible, and easy to mangle after sewing a whole darn garment… and our house is over-run by old shirts….

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Lynn Mally August 16, 2014 at 2:28 pm

This is really fun. I particularly like all the contrasting binding. As a lover of men’s shirts, I think this is a home run.

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Connie August 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Brilliant, just brilliant. It looks like a lot of work though. Good job.

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Joni August 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I want to see this in a whole bunch of madras plaids. That would be AWESOME.

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Leahz August 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm

What a great project! What a great project Erin

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Minya, Warrior Seamstress August 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I love this!

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Cel August 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm

This is about the most fun a blog reader can have! Thanks.

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Connie August 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I think this might be one of the best remakes I’ve seen. I love it all, especially the piping. You did such a great job with the pockets. I will of course be voting for you.

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Rufus August 24, 2014 at 5:39 am

I’m makin’ me a man-dress/kurta this way.

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cal August 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

Love the idea!

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Doris August 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

OMG, this is so fantastic! :-D

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Minya, Warrior Seamstress September 8, 2014 at 5:12 pm

The shade of pale yellow found in men’s shirts (never in women’s shirts) is why I want to make this. Light lemon yellow with blue stripes for bodice, maybe the reverse as an A-line skirt. White collar and cuffs or other sleeve finish; square buttons for replacements if I can find ones I like. Keep shirttail hem; add fishtail? Keep all pockets. Make and add more pockets. Finish with narrow belt, if it doesn’t make my waist look too thick. Get the dingy grays out of it and wear it to my cousin’s wedding. Or is it too casual?

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Minya, Warrior Seamstress September 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm

And you did a lovely job with the bodice. Two vertical darts that I can see, did you need armpit darts as well? I’m pretty sure I will.

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Sarah October 28, 2014 at 3:42 am

This made me smile! I have a few of my dad’s old shirts, but of course they tend to wear out at the collar, so no savings there. I have contemplated cutting off the collar for a Mandarin/Nehru effect.

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