Thursday, September 6, 2012

My other favorite thing to do with Thrift Store Shirts

I've blogged recently about some of the things I've made with thrift store shirts ... (See the posts about Fabric, Homespun Quilt Top, Fabric Designers, and Shirt Quilt)

Here's the other thing I like to do with thrift store shirts.

Pretty often, I find a shirt at a thrift store that I'd love to wear, but it's the wrong size. For a lot of those times, I've figured out what to do ... This is not a tutorial, but it does show you part of my process for "That $1 shirt that's just too big." 

Often, I find (men's) button-down shirts that would be great shirts for me, if only they were a little smaller, and if only they fit a little more like a ladies' shirt. Flowered shirts, purple shirts, rayon shirts: you name it. Sometimes the guy-shirts I find are just too pretty for a guy, so I make them into girl shirts for me.

For starters, I button up the shirt, and compare it with a shirt I have that fits me properly. The blue striped shirt was a men's Large; the green one is a ladies' Large.

Leaving plenty of seam allowance and  hem allowance, I cut the blue shirt: sleeves shorter, hem shorter, and sides narrower.

After cutting, I usually fold the whole thing in half (don't cut it!), to check and make sure the whole thing is pretty symmetrical. I match up the four layers on the sides, and trim any spots that are ragged or uneven.

I later trimmed this little bit more from the front hem, because I wanted to get rid of that bottom button/buttonhole.

And I also trimmed more from the sleeves than I did at first.

Somehow, the contrast-colored buttonhole (in the picture below) just didn't look right once I shortened the shirt. It was too close to the new hem on the front. So I cut the shirt front just below the buttonhole, so I could remove that button, and tuck the buttonhole into the hem allowance. Here, I'm serging just below the buttonhole, so that when I turn the hem under one more time, the buttonhole "disappears."

I didn't take too many pictures of the actual stitching, but what I did is:
- Serge the sideseams
- Serge the sleeve hems
- Serge the shirt hem
- Regular-machine stitch the sideseams, to reinforce
- Regular-machine stitch the sleeve hems
- Regular-machine stitch the shirt hem.

Voila! New shirt!

This process works great for me, and I've used it on a lot of shirts.
I don't mind a bit of a dropped-shoulder look on a button-down shirt (photo below), and I like my button-down shirts to be a little oversized and not too fitted. I can make the sleeve length, shirt length, and shirt width work the way I like them.

Usually, I work with a shirt that's a men's Large (occasionally an XL), turning it into something like a ladies' Large. 

Things to be aware of if you try this idea:
- It still buttons backwards, like a men's shirt
- If the shirt has a pocket, be aware of how near the sideseam your pocket ends up. (You don't want the pocket actually incorporated into the sideseam.)
- Since the shirt is being shortened, watch where the lowest button/buttonhole end up. (A button one inch from the hem doesn't look right.) I usually cut just below a button, remove that button, and work the buttonhole into the hem.

Generally, I use this method on shirts that cost me a dollar or less, so it's very cost-effective, and, if something goes wrong, it's not a huge loss.

Here's the before and after on this one...


So ... That's my other favorite thing to do with thrift-store shirts.

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