I’d been experimenting with drafting a particular kind of sleeve and also working on a close-fitting bodice when Lesley alerted me to the Refashioners 2015, the Men’s Shirt Challenge. This is a mass participation event with so many prizes that I haven’t yet been able to read the list to the end – I keep getting terrifying premonitions of the winner being me then having to incorporate this treasure-like haul into my over-cluttered home 🙂
I’ve long been a fan of making stuff out of men’s shirts. I cut up my husband’s work shirts whenever
I get mad at him the cuffs get frayed and make something for my daughter: it’s by using such scraps that I first taught myself to sew! But this challenge seemed a good opportunity to make my bodice and sleeves out of something attractively stripy so I turned to the local charity shops to buy a shirt in as large a size as I could get. Would you believe that charity shops charge £5 or more for second-hand men’s shirts? 😯 Luckily this M&S behemoth (size 17in/43cm, easy fit) was just £3 as the cuffs and the collar were in a bit of a state (I really don’t see how they hope to sell such shirts, unless it’s for refashioning or fancy dress!). The cotton is firm and fresh-smelling, with nicely defined grey pinstripes and variation in the weave of the thick white stripes (not sure what this is called). There were two side pleats coming from the yoke at the back so extra fabric too!
And yet … Just as in the previous ‘challenge’, in which I cut up a man’s jacket to make a skirt, I found my plans thwarted by a lack of materials. Have you ever been in the situation when you’re constantly glancing around your cutting area and the floor, in case there’s one more piece of fabric you’d forgotten about that will save you!? The result is that the sleeves aren’t as attractive as I’d intended and the top isn’t as practical since the buttons had to go round the back which makes putting this garment on somewhat time-consuming. But I do like it. I’ve added a grosgrain tie and belt loops to break it up a bit, though I may revert to the plainer look: this is certainly something that will get a bit of wear in the next month or two before the woollens come out. Look, I’ve even replaced the original yellowing buttons with smoky iridescent ones, which I think look great with the grey stripes.
But my favourite part is the little slits just over the hips. Can you tell which part of the shirt they come from?