Just in time for the holiday. A men’s dress shirt can be upcycled into many things. I wanted to make something green for my daughter that she would want to wear more than just once. I found Amazing Mae’s post and gained some inspiration. One thing I didn’t find was how to cut up the dress shirt in such a way to allow for the most usable fabric, and how to place the sewing pattern pieces to make the dress like Mae’s. Using my self-drafted peasant dress pattern, I fashioned a tunic, perfect for layering. She’s too tall for it to be a dress. The dress shirt didn’t have enough length. Cute with leggings and flats–don’t you think?
But first, I had to cut up the dress shirt in such a way to make the pattern pieces fit. The cutting up of said dress shirt is key. Here’s my tutorial for how I cut up the dress shirt and for the placement of the pattern pieces. Remember to click on the photo to see it bigger.
When re-purposing a dress shirt, you want to be very careful when cutting it apart.
If there is a pocket, then carefully remove it with a seam ripper. It will most likely not be placed well and I find it ends up in a seam. To remove the pocket, I work on the right side. This way if I accidentally rip fabric, it’s the pocket that gets damaged, not the shirt.
Use masking tape to remove all the stray threads 🙂
Remove the collar. Cut directly on the seam.
Remove each sleeve, by cutting along the seam.
Cut the sleeve open, again along the seam. If you are making a small size peasant dress, then you may want to save the cuff and placket for another upcycle project later. To do that, measure the sleeve pattern and stop cutting the seam when you have enough fabric for the sleeves.
This will give you the most usable fabric. I used the sleeves to cut my short raglan sleeves. Remember to place the fabric right sides together before cutting out your pattern pieces.
If you are making a larger size, then you may need to cut your sleeves on the crossgrain.
Next cut the side seams open.
Remove the shoulder yoke, making sure to cut on the seams.
Button up the front placket and fold the front along the buttons.
You’re limited in where you can cut on the front, because of the buttons. Begin by marking where the top button is with a pin. Since you want this button close to the top, place the front bodice pattern piece onto the shirt to allow just enough for a casing. I placed mine 1 3/4 inches from the top button, so the button would be high, but it would clear the presser foot.
Notice how the fold line of the pattern is placed along the fold in the fabric and the buttonhole placket is a bit over. This is necessary in order for the buttons to fall in the center of the dress when sewn up.
The next place to be careful of the buttons is at the hem line. Note if you want to keep the existing hem, you need to align the pattern there first and then check the top button.
Here is what it would look like if you were using the existing hem:
view from underneath
Mark the lower button that falls closest to the hem in your pattern. If making a tunic, use a French curve to cut your new hem line, being careful not to cut into a button.
Here is the bodice front cut out.
Now cut out your bodice back pattern piece. Fold the fabric from the back of the dress shirt along the center back and place the fold line of the pattern piece along this fold in the fabric. Pin it in place.You’ll want to measure the side (from the under arm to hem) on your bodice front to make sure those measurements match. If using the existing hem, then line up the bottom of the pattern first.
Once you have all the pattern pieces cut out of fabric, you can sew up your dress or tunic, according to the pattern instructions.
I sewed the peasant dress just as I would had I been using yardage. The only exception being the button placket–being careful to not sew over a button.
And there you have it. A tunic she can wear on St. Patty’s day. We also made the frayed rosette to go with it.