An education in re-purposing
A year or so ago I posted about re-making a man’s shirt into something that I could wear. I was quite proud of myself for the modifications I’d done to the shirt to make it more feminine-looking and match my wardrobe.
I’m really inspired by all their creativity. But most of it is very artsy-craftsy and I am more of a cute-but-basic kind of sewer. The clothing that others are
others are creating is beautiful, but takes a lot of time. And most of these projects cost as much as new (or more!) and there’s often a lot that’s thrown out. I’m doing this to keep costs down and help the environment by wasting less.
A Wealth of Cheap Fabric
As I wrote in my ebook on Sustainable Sewing, the thrift store has huge stores of fabric and fabricky items that can be re-made into clothing. I’ve written about making a dresses for my granddaughter from curtains and sheets. I even re-made a mother-of-the-bride dress into an elegant princess dress.
But now I’ve found a whole new world in men’s dress shirts. Men’s shirts are great for re-makes because the fabric is usually a better quality and is typically wrinkle-free. So if you can find a shirt in bright or contrasting colors, it’s a great jumping off point for making something new for girls or women. Better yet, men’s shirts often go on sale, so I can usually get them for $1 – $2.
And here’s my latest
I found this nice purple gingham print shirt last week for just $1. And after an afternoon of un-piecing, cutting and sewing, I made a nice little summer dress for my granddaughter.
Here’s how I did it:
1-I removed the collar and cuffs. Both collar and cuffs had a nice contrasting fabric that I hoped to be able to incorporate into the re-make. But alas! I couldn’t figure out a way to use those, except to make hair scrunchies with them.
2-I un-pieced the shoulder seams. The shoulder yoke came forward a bit and I wanted the shoulder seams to be at the top, not the front of the shoulder.
3-I cut new, short sleeves from the sleeves. I cut the bodice from the top part of the shirt and the skirt from the bottom 2/3 of the shirt.
4-I had planned to sew the collar base back onto the dress in a mandarin collar style. But with the new neckline, it didn’t fit. So instead, I bound the edges with bias tape. The bias tape was made from a couple pillow cases that I’d bought a while ago at the thrift store for 50¢. My granddaughter wanted pockets, so I cut pockets from the pillow case scraps. It’s a detail that few will notice, but now the pockets match the neckline.
5-I also bound the seam at the waist with bias tape. Now the raw edges are not visible and there’s nothing to unravel or fray.
6-I could have just kept the white buttons that were on the shirt, but my granddaughter wanted purple buttons. (Purple is currently her favorite color.) So I replaced the buttons with purple buttons. I had a 50% off coupon, so they cost me $3.
Total cost: $4.50.
When your canvas only costs a $1, you can afford to experiment and be creative. Try mixing parts from two or three shirts to create one dress or blouse. Add new buttons, a bit of lace or embroidery. I’m just a novice at this, but a quick look online and you’ll see that there’s a whole new world of creative and frugal sewing to tap into.