Another Shirt-shirtdress

Remember my erstwhile obsession with making shirtdresses out of shirts?

It’s back.

I started this time with (again) the Seamwork Veronica, because it’s easy to make and to wear, and the panel version (for subscribers) is a perfect target for weirdnesses such as this:

shirt-shirtdress blue gingham

This particular dress is made out of (I think) four men’s shirts of varying gingham and stripe patterns (I tried really hard to find all different ginghams but ended up with the stripes, which I think worked out okay).

I thought about trying to cut the waistband so that it too would unbutton, but the placket width was slightly off (and I was more than slightly lazy).

But I remembered to take construction pictures this time! So here’s how I cut out that center front skirt panel from the front of a shirt—I extended the front panel to include the curved hem.

shirt-shirtdress construction center front skirt 3

Here’s a closeup:

shirt-shirtdress construction center front skirt 2

Basically, I created a new pattern piece for the full center front panel (since it’s too hard to put buttons on the fold) and drew a line to mark the CF, which I could then line up over the center of the buttons in the shirt. (I did the same for the CF bodice and CB bodice & skirt pieces [not pictured]).

For the CB, I was able to keep the locker loop and yoke, which I always like (but not enough to go out of my way to sew myself, oh no):

shirt-shirtdress back bodice with locker loop

The pocket backing is cut on the bias from the sleeve (men’s shirt sleeves have a lot of fabric in them):

shirt-shirtdress construction pocket facing cutting on bias

Here it is, constructed:
shirt-shirtdress pocket + piping

A little in-progress view of the bodice:
shirt-shirtdress construction

This is right after I resewed the front pocket to overlap the side bodice piece — I usually use washaway tape to hold the pocket in place while I sew, because otherwise things go badly.

Here’s the full back view:
shirt-shirtdress back

You can almost see that there’s a shirttail hem on the back, to mimic the one on the front—here’s a closer photo of that:
shirt-shirtdress curved hem piecing

And the piecing of that, since I couldn’t get the curved hems on the shirts to match up well with the pieces I was cutting. (I actually like how this turned out better …)

I just took the curved hem bits I had left over and eyeballed how they should match the front skirt, like so:

curved hem eyeballing

Then it was just a matter of making sure I had seam allowance on the other side, too:

shirt-shirtdress curved hem construction pinning

Finished result:
shirt-shirtdress curved hem construction

Unless you already have a lot of old men’s shirts lying around, making a shirtdress out of shirts is not that much less expensive than buying yardage (at least not in SF, where a decent shirt at a thrift store will cost you $5-9, depending on condition and whether or not it’s on 50% off sale that day). It takes 4-5 L or XL shirts for one dress, and I try to limit myself to shirts that are unwearable as shirts when I can—ones with stained cuffs, frayed collars, or minor holes that I can work around. I hear tell there’s a Goodwill warehouse in Burlingame that has a ‘pay-by-the-pound’ sale, but I haven’t gone yet—if you’ve gone, feel free to leave your report in the comments!

I want to make a version that is all different flannel plaids for fall, but finding coordinating flannel plaids on intermittent thrift-store trips is a loooooooong project. (It’d would also be fun to make one in Hawaiian-shirt prints, or one in novelty prints … )

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It's another shirt-shirtdress!

I finally found the right old shirt to complete this particular shirt-shirtdress: shirt-shirtdress

I’ve made this particular … can’t really call it a pattern; let’s call it an agglomeration, okay? twice before. (This one I blogged about.)

Here’s the back:
shirt-shirtdress back

I made the back panel wider this go-around, and used the same shirt for the back side and pocket panels (and you can see that there are three different sizes/shades of gray gingham here, and no, I didn’t match any of them):
shirt-shirtdress: I put pockets in my pockets

My favorite, favorite part of this dress is putting the front shirt pocket as the pocket panel. For some reason this just pleases me all out of proportion to how much use that little pocket will actually get. But EVEN MY POCKETS HAVE POCKETS, y’all.

I also like making sure the front center skirt piece has a pocket in it. I have put back otherwise lovely shirts at Goodwill if they lack this essential element:

shirt-shirtdress: lotsa pockets

The piping above isn’t made from shirts, it’s some bought-in-NYC Japanese piping I had left over from a gray chambray Simplicity 2389 that I don’t think I’ve posted about yet. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The buttonholes didn’t really line up well at the center front (you can see here how one buttonhole is actually caught in the waist seam) so I just made a new one (that’s the second buttonhole down). No worries.

shirt-shirtdress rebuttonholing

My second-favorite bit of making these shirt-shirtdresses is unpicking the front pocket, sewing the darts, then sewing the pocket back down over the darts. Which you can’t really tell from this picture, but that’s what I did:
shirt-shirtdress dart and pocket

Matching the shirttail hem is also very satisfying — especially at the sides:
more shirt-shirtdress hem

And, of course, using some of the shirt fabric to make bias tape to finish the sleeves:
shirt-shirtdress sleeve

(The sleeve opening is actually a bit too wide here — next time I’m going to see if I can actually shorten the sleeve and gather it into the sleeve cuff from a different shirt. We’ll see if I can find some XXL shirt with big cuffs to go around my biceps …)

Fabric-wise, this dress took 2 extra-large, 1 large, and 1 medium shirt (for the bodice). The extra-large shirts really make it easier to match up the side panel hem curves without having to use part of the sleeve underarm (never the best part of a secondhand shirt!) at the top of the skirt side panels.

I have one more of these cut out (in different shades/sizes of *blue* gingham) and I hope to take some construction pictures to roll up into an eventual tutorial … these are really not hard to make. (The hardest part is finding the coordinating shirts.)