Isn’t that how it always is, for goodness’ sakes??
Hub had bequeathed me two of his old Dockers work shirts since the cuffs and collars were slightly frayed. (This is irksome because no one would actually notice the fraying and the rest of the shirt was still serviceable, but whatevs.) Yours truly had some great raw material to work with – and if you have a guy in your life who’s parting with any of his button-downs (or you feel like thrifting one for cheap at the Goodwill), so will you!
[I'm a Misses' 4/6 dress size; I started with a L shirt and used almost all of the fabric...though I would have liked to work with the XL since I wanted a little more length. I'm 5'6". Calculate accordingly.] This project took me about a day and half…and that was with a million interruptions. The sewing itself was pretty simple…the issues were with salvaging the fabric from the shirt to use. This is probably an intermediate project because of that.]
You will need:
-1 button-down men’s shirt
-thread matching color of thread used in topstitching of shirt
-1/2″ wide elastic for waistband (your waist circumference -1″)*
-1/2″ or 3/8″ wide elastic for bodice top (your over bust measurement – 1″)*
*Note: this is a pull-on style tube dress. You have to be able to get into it, so you don’t want to make the bodice too fitted or the bodice top elastic so tight that you can’t shimmy the dress over your hips. Just sayin.’ Or maybe you could put it on over your head…? You don’t want to rip anything, so make sure you have enough wiggle room!
Button the shirt all the way up.
1. Cut according to the picture:
-the sleeves off at the armscye seam
-the cuffs off the sleeves
-each sleeve open down the sleeve seam
-the collar off the shirt at the collar seam
-the pocket off the front of the shirt (ripping the stitches carefully…we want to use the pocket fabric so keep that and the shirt intact when removing)
-the shirt straight across from underarm to underarm (both back and front of shirt)
-the button placket (button side only) from the top half of the shirt
-the back yoke from the remaining back of the shirt (if it has a back yoke; if not, do not cut)
-the shoulder seams open
What you should have left is the picture on the right above. Now we have to create each piece of the dress from the parts of the shirt we’ve just cut.
SHIRT BOTTOM —-> SKIRT
1. Turn shirt bottom inside out. Sew both sides together with a line of stitching just outside the stitching of the button placket. (We don’t want the button placket to show on the finished piece – and all we’re doing is sewing the two sides together to create a finished skirt – since there’s that handy button placket, no need to pin!) Cut off button placket to create seam allowance on inside. This seam is now the skirt CENTER BACK (CB) seam).
2. Turn shirt bottom right side out. Cut straight across bottom to create hem (or leave as is if you like the “shirt-style” hem). I stitched 1/4″ on inside of hem so that the fray wouldn’t go all the way up my garment. I left the raw edge cuz I liked it like that. You can leave the hemming until later, once you put it on and adjust the length, or you can even add a little ruffle onto the bottom for more length if you have enough fabric (I didn’t).
Now I know, I know, by turning the front to the back and not adjusting the side seams makes the skirt a wee bit too wide in the back and not wide enough in the front. But all you pattern nazi’s – shove off! This is what refashioning’s about.
SHIRT SLEEVES —-> BODICE [BACK]
1. Sew sleeve cuff placket closed by topstitching the open side down to the sleeve, using the same color thread, spi, and seam allowance as the other side of the placket (which is likely topstiched). We don’t want that sleeve slit opening up! (Repeat for other sleeve)
Cut two pieces of fabric from your leftover shirt back. (Mine were 2 7/8″” wide by 20″ long.) Sew a narrow hem on each ruffle edge, turn, then sew again to encase any raw edges.
Triple-knot a double-length of thread and hand-baste other side of each ruffle with 3/8″ long stitches. Once done the length of each ruffle, pull on your thread to gather ruffle length attractively and match it to length of shirt front button placket you cut in the previous step. Pin ruffles to underside of placket (with about a 1/4″ to 3/8″ underlap), leaving 1/2″ at top and bottom of placket sans ruffles. (Pins shown in diagram above in red.) Fold under bottom of placket. Place placket + ruffle decoration on top of bodice front. Repin same area to bodice front (going thru all 3 layers), centering placket on CF, removing earlier pins as you go. (Make sure that bottom of the placket stays folded under, matching fold to waist seam!!) Topstitch through all layers, vertically down each side of button placket – approximately 1/8″ from edge.
Fold down top of button placket to wrong side of bodice front; topstitch horizontally at top edge to keep in place.
I also (since I’m completely anal) was irritated by the ruffle not sitting flat on the bodice – so I tacked the ruffle down in various places by just handstitching with one or two stitches here and there to the bodice.
I also made straps from extra fabric from the shirt (about 3/8″ wide) that I tacked onto the inside of the bodice. They can tie around the neck halter-style, or can be tucked into the bodice when I just want to wear it like a tube dress. I put a snap on each end, and another 2 snaps on the inside of the bodice back – so the straps can also be snapped down and look like regular spaghetti straps. (not pictured; sorry)