Men’s Shirt Refashion

1 refashion


Sleeve and bodice toiles
Sleeve and Bodice Toiles

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   🙂

1 Marianna and the Giant ShirtI’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!1 back view

1 sleeveAnd 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.

1 new and old buttons

1 hip1 the refashioners 2015

But my favourite part is the little slits just over the hips.  Can you tell which part of the shirt they come from?


28 thoughts on “Men’s Shirt Refashion

  1. I’ve followed you for a good while but never commenting, however, this one requires one. I absolutely love this blouse and I prefer it without the belt. You’re so very creative and I really love what you did with this man’s shirt. The sleeves are particularly interesting. You should create a sell-able pattern for this one!!

    • Thanks for following the blog Zoe and nice to finally meet you, as it were 🙂
      I would love to be able to share PDF patterns online, with or without selling involved, but haven’t yet worked out how to convert drawings to PDF. Any tips would be warmly welcome.

  2. Love love love this. The sleeves are fabulous and work so well in the sombre grey stripes. Really lovely refashion that I want to copy to some extent if I ever get myself organized! Very inspirational, Marianna. PS I don’t think it needs the belt – perfect without!

    • Thanks, Stephanie. You’re absolutely right; I wore it belt-less today and was very comfortable and pleased. I think I put the belt on because I had some navy grosgrain lying around and noticed the dark blue seemed a perfect foil for the white with grey top

    • Thank you but really the only clever thing about this was that I paused to think, think and think before cutting: it would have been so easy to cut the first piece and then repent. There really aren’t that many options when working from pre-cut pieces of fabric.

  3. Lovely, lovely blouse. You are so clever. My Father died recently, he always dressed well and bought good quality clothes. We have counted 38 blue shirts in his wardrobe (including a couple still unopened in their cellophane package). Unfortunately neither my brother or partner are the same size as him so I was going to take them down to the charity shop, but having seen this I am inspired to do something more interesting with them.

    I’d love to see how you drafted those sleeves if you felt you could share it with us

    • I’m so sorry to hear that your dad passed away Jane.

      Using his shirts to make something you can wear would be a lovely, thoughtful project. Two that are the same or matching would be better than trying to make one shirt stretch. I will do a tutorial soon on the sleeves (though it’s an idea from Pinterest rather than my own.)

  4. You have surpassed yourself with this one! I love the sleeves and the slits and the whole shapely fit of it. Definitely better without the belt because the shape is too good to hide. As somebody who has trouble zipping up a dress at the back on her own, I’m not sure how I’d cope with the buttons but it would be worth a bit of a struggle. I’m off to eye up my husband’s shirts.
    I’ve done PDF tutorials for cartonnage and I just draw the templates, scan them in and convert to a PDF file along with the step by step photographs and instructions. Or you could photograph the drawings perhaps and scan those in.

  5. Shop around for the best prices at charity shops – I’ve discovered 2 in my local area that sell at £1 an item (one of them also skims out the best items which are then sold at £3 or more if top brands / special). Both these shops are small local ones – not your British heart foundation / oxfam types.

    • Thanks Sarah. You’re right: I went to a different area the day after posting this and saw more reasonable prices (CPL is the particular shop). From now on I’ll shop around. I have to say since the challenge and having seen everyone else’s creations, I can’t get enough of charity shop shirts.

  6. It has been interesting to see what everyone has been doing with old shirts! I used some for a quilt ones; even then it struck me that the cotton is generally very nice, dense, quality. There are even some interesting colours (they are not all blue or white!). I like what you have done with this shirt very much – especially the sleeves which are exceptional. Well done Marianna – it’s a great fit too, with so many pretty details.

  7. Like it, unfortunately, Mike is a lot slimmer than me and also by the time he has finished with his shirts they are only fit to be binned. Just to let you know I have joined Anne’s dressmaking class on a Thursday morning, still get too tired to make best use of an evening class.

  8. Hi Marianna,

    That is a lovely top. Well done. I used to make my own clothes once but often struggled to finish them. I’m still tempted sometimes to make clothes. What a clever idea, using the sleeve plackets for the front slits.

    Thank you, Tialys for the info on making PDFs! And, Marianna, its very kind of you to give us all the pattern for your sleeves, thank you.

    I’m off to check out hubby’s old shirts now!

    Barbara xx

  9. I share the same experience, too whenever I am in the middle of my “sewing bubble” and realize that I might need a few inches of fabric to make sure that the clothes go according to plan. But I must say kudos to the sleeves! I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it in the shops these days.

  10. I love this blouse (belt included!). It’s light and lively but chic-professional too. This is really a brilliant refashion. (Plus, do I even need to mention how cool the sleeves are!?!?)

  11. wonderful!!!!
    I love the sleeves.
    Have you.fgot the pattern of the base?is it possible to send it by mail?
    (Im me for my en english)

  12. I too love the sleeve and the entire top. I would love to purchase the directions and the sleeve pattern if you are able to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.