Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dress Shirt Refashion (Finally)

First I will give you the dramatic before and after of this refashion and then you'll get the back story.



The back story: while sifting through my closet for something to refashion I came upon an old dress shirt. It had been well loved in its day but now it was far too dingy to be used for formal occasions. My first thought was that it needed to be dyed but I also realized that once dyed the cut would be too formal to be useful so it also needed some refashioning.

The first thing I tackled was the collar. It was too pointy and extreme so I opened up where the two pieces were attached. I have no idea what they are actually called so let's refer to them as the collar and the base of the collar.

And here is the obligatory help from a cat, they like to hold down fabric for you:

You can see where I seam ripped between the two pieces:

Once I had separated the top piece I was left with a nice little stand up collar. All I had to do was sew the piece that remained back together which I did by hand.

Next I tackled the sleeves. After about 50 false starts I decided just to chop them off (with a lot of experimentation to figure out the angle at which this should be done). I used leftovers from the sleeves to make a cuff (is that what it's called if it doesn't have a button?) for the sleeve. I actually had to piece it out of two different lengths but you can't really tell because the much smaller piece is on the inside of the arm. To gather in the extra material I went with one large tuck. (I only have pictures from after it was dyed.)

Although I liked the shirt a lot better with short sleeves it was still a little boxy so rather than attempt to reshape the entire thing I just added two ties at the sides:

I left them really long so they can actually be tied in several ways; as shown above or tied in front at the waist or as an empire waist.

Finally the shirt needed dying. (Pretend it wasn't already dyed in previous pictures). I did some research and decided after finding much praise for it that Dylon dye was good and widely available. (The "colour" page [I love British spelling] on their homepage has a cool color wheel of all the dyes.) After much mental anguish I went with "ocean blue:"

I was happy with the saturation of the color but disappointed that it came out a little streaky, although that is fading with every wash (and also could have been my fault).

I also had no idea how dying over pin stripes would turn out, whether they'd still be visible or disappear completely. I like that they are subtly still there.

It ended up being way more work then I expected but it was worth it because I really like it now:

P.S.: Total cost: About $3 for some cotton fabric to make the ties out of (I had plenty of white fabric but I wasn't positive any of it was 100% cotton so I had to buy some) and the packet of dye.


  1. This is a great remake. Love it!

  2. You did a terrific job. I'm very inspired.

  3. Nice work tiger, it looks way cute on you now. I love using ties to make something fit nicer without all the work of reshaping, plus I think it adds interest. xx

  4. Good job. Nice "colour" choice. Did the $3 include the your "assistant"?

  5. I love it! I just paid 10 cents at the thrift store for a shirt that looks just like your "before." It's very nice quality, but dingy like you mentioned so I planned to refashion it. Anyway, I have been staring at it trying to figure out what to do and now I think I'll copy you! Hope you don't mind. Thanks for the inspiration. I hope mine turns out as nicely as yours.

  6. Awesome! It's much better and the tie in the back looks great! You got great skills!

  7. Your shirt came out so good! It fits you really well. I'm going to try your method; I've been into button-up shirts, lately, but wanting them to look a little less "manly". I especially like how you did the sleeves.
    Your blog heading cracks me up!

  8. I found this on Wardrobe Refashion. LOVE IT!
    Great job!

  9. Oh! I love that project!!! I was just wondering what to do with an old dress shirt that I bought at a flee market. It has a really cool pattern but I look like something out of "Fame - the movie" when wearing it.
    Thank you so much for sharing this idea!

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  11. the idea of refashioning an old item is terrific, although plant dyes are better for the environment than Dylon chemical dyes.