Shirt Blouse Pattern

When I first started this pet project / blog, my mini-ambition was also to develop a set of patterns suitable for upcycling clothes, and it seemed to keep falling by the wayside.  I did up one last year….and its still on rough paper (but I hope to get that drafted and tested in the next month)

Two months ago, I changed jobs – I went back temping –  and wanted to make up some new ‘work’ tops.  When I used temp years ago, I would wear skirts more, whereas this year I have pretty much been wearing cigarette pants all summer, and wanted to make up a few ‘prepier’ looking shirts/tops to go with them.  One was this butterick shirt, which I made from a pale blue linen.  The one think I hadn’t thought of, was to cut the front up-side-down on the men’s shirt as the buttons go the wrong way!

butterick shirt upcycle

Anyway – while it has been a useful addition, I wanted a top with no collar, but still ‘crisp’ looking.  I had a white dress shirt from the sewing room in the cupboard and ran this one up.  I was very pleased with it, as I managed to get the whole top out of the shirt (and still have some usable scraps left – cuffs and collar).  I took off the pique panels and used them for the yokes and incorporated the button holes as a ‘feature’, and did a slash opening at the back.

I was very happy with the construction – its a lined yoke, and slash opening back, and sleeves are sewn in flat, and there are a small amount of gathers at the cuff of the sleeve.

white shirt upcycle

I then wondered how adaptable the pattern would be, and as I had a few stripe shirts in the workroom, so I started to experiment with some mix and match there (I had planned to use these with the teens in the sew summer camp) so started taking them apart and sampled up a few – tweaking as I went along, the main tweak really was adding shoulder darts.  I am rather pleased with the patchwork-ed ones and am now foisting some of the makes on friends, as I got carried away with the making…..

shirt blouse - upcycle shirt


So-with the making of the new Irish Dancing Dress looming I spent last weekend drafting and had it scanned yesterday.  I put it on craftsy and its free, and hope to have an A4 version up by the weekend.  I am hoping the explanations of each step is sufficiently informative without being too simplistic.  I have found in the sewing room – that I tend to assume that ‘everyone’ knows this – but then remember or am reminded that not everyone learned to sew in school etc.  So if you have any comments tips on the instructions and pattern if you wish to download/read/use, I would be delighted to hear them.

Originally I was to grade it also, but I was running out of time, and if my niece (irish dance dress) finds out I am doing extra-curricular activities – I thought it best to finish what I had, and get onto that!


Quick remakes – T and Shirt

I was asked to help with a workshop a youth group was running locally.  The ‘summer camp’ was going to try and combine fashion along with eco-sensibility – by both discussing the negative environmental and social aspects of fast fashion as well as facilitating the attendees to make their own fashion by handing over a fiver and getting them to go to the charity shops and find some clothes that they would wear or upcycle!

I thought I better do some quick sews to show them pieces that can be done with very little sewing and cutting.  I found a shirt and tee in the sewing room box (a lot of unsaleable pieces from the attached charity shop end up here so some have holes some have stains….).  The big T had some small holes and the design was badly faded, the shirt had a stain to the front.

The T

grey tee shirt cut out

The front print on this was faded but was not as noticeable on the wrong side – which I used as the right side,

  • I cut it up and rough cut a tee-shirt shape from the front and back and shortened the tee shirt
  • cut a slight curved arm-scythe. I used one of my own tee’s as a guide.
  • I sewed the shoulder seams together
  • I trimmed the sleeves into as long a rectangle shape, and joined each to a rectangle made from the front and back trim from the bottom of the tee – with the original hems left intact so they became the finished edge of the new sleeve – I gathered the sleeves and inserted them flat
  • and over-locked the sides together and twin needled the neckline and hem.

grey tee after (1)

The hem and neckline were turned over and finished with a twin needle!  The sleeves in this are very dramatic, but its a great tee, and I have since tried another with smaller sleeves.  The sleeves here were made from the 2 rectangles cut from the bottom of the tee-shirt only.

G Star T upcycleG star t upcycle

The shirt

There are a few upcycles around for this style of gypsy shirt, but I wanted to show shirring as I find it so useful, effective and fast.

shirred shirt upcycle to summer top

So for this I cut the shirt above cuff and placket, and around the neckline (which was just under the yoke of the shirt at the back, and over-locked all edges.

I then did 3 lines of shirring…. which equated to one bobbin full!  I later put in some at the hem.

Both took less than an hour each.

The workshop was last week and it was so interesting and so hectic – I did 3 afternoon sessions of about 2.5 hours and it was non-stop.  There were 7 attendees and a great mix of ages and fashion styles, and they were all incredibly enthusiastic.

Few had really sewn before and the nice bit about the making were all were happy with making in general and setting a realistic standard (I think sometimes teaching adults to sew is more difficult as some expect to have a store bought finish and feel defeated when it comes out otherwise.)  Anyway this was just as well as they all seems to have picked up very tricky fashion fabrics at the charity shops.


Shirt to Sunbather

Another quick sew, and my summer sewing seems to be taking shape, a lot of the colours I am using co-ordinate well, and I am using up a lot of what was in the ‘press’.  I had seen a few of these tops on WeSewRetro, and I got the pattern from Etsy.

I used a charity shop shirt, harvested the buttons, and cut out the top gathered piece in 2 pieces, as well as having to divide the pattern piece for the back wraps in two.  I made a grain error (ie cut it off grain) in the end wrap pieces but it makes no difference really.  There is enough shirt left over for a button back version of this!  I used about 5m of store bought bias binding (2euro), and lined it with left over sheeting (its a thin sheet/like flour bag fabric).  My lining was cut the same as the fabric, and sewed to the fabric before the top was constructed.

Very quick make….. however the temperatures here have taken a dive so it may not get worn for a while!

white shirt shibori – simplicity 1364

Two white shirts for a euro.  Absolutely beautiful cotton, and my guess is that they were in a ‘bargain bin’ because they were dress shirts.  I buy mainly from the bargain rail in the charity shops as in someways I think the remakes are a gamble and I am don’t wish to be wasteful.  Shirts are rarely, if ever on the bargain rail, so I got these two as I wanted to see if I could make some summer tops. I had a definite plan for one, which was to make a back button shibori summer top – (and I think I have a plan for the other).

simplicyt 1364 shibori

The Simplicity competition supplied the pattern, its a nice summer top, it has a boat neck and simple shaping.  I even picked up the rit dye for another euro in another charity shop – all good!  I made the pattern some weeks ago to see what the shaping was like, and I had to alter the pattern a small bit to make use of the shirt.  The back was taken in a bit, and the curve at the top of the pattern was eliminated.  The front dart was changed to a simpler dart.  I pretty much did this while marking out – I marked the front and then traced the bust dart on a piece of paper, and reconfigured it by opening the dart further up – I removed the main pattern under and marked out the new traced dart.  The sleeves were cut from the sleeves, and I left the cuff opening in the same place. I was going to put a button to sew it shut, but I like it as it is.  

refashion shirt

upcycle mans shirt shibori

Sewing the pattern was pretty straightforward.  I sewed the darts in front and sleeves, and then sewed shoulder seams.  As it was a shirt style sleeve, I sewed it ‘flat’ as opposed to set in, and then finished sleeve seams, side seams and hems.  I decided to use the cuffs for the facing.  The facing is a little bit too heavy, but I will leave it for the moment (I will wear it for a while and may yet try a small stand up collar).  

I have not done shibori before, but always like the look of it.  I tend to prefer wearing regular patterns like plaid so the ‘mokumo’ stitching seemed to have a nice regularity to it, and the more uneven the stitching the more successful the outcome!.  While I was reading up on some shibori history, it seems that shibori comes from the making of old clothes to look new, so a lot of aptness there.

I stitched the shirt at 1cm intervals or so, across the width of the shirt, and the sleeves were stitched in the round.  I gathered them as tight as I could and knotted the ends.   I was trying an ombre effect, but its hardly noticeable (and I also had a few other pieces in the dye pot).  I had the top of the blouse wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it, and rinsed the dye off at the end.  I wasn’t sure what to do next so I undid the threads (shouldn’t have), I think there was still dye in the creases, and some got on the white (which then had to have some bleach on them).  I should have rinsed the dye in hot water and detergent, dry and then loosen the threads – so I will know for the next time.  I was also a bit impatient to see if it worked!  I didn’t take any photos of the process as I was too busy keeping an eye on splashes in the kitchen and have one blurred one taken on my ‘dumb’ phone below.

 I steamed ironed the shibori which should help fix it.  I have to launder it fully yet, so I intend to hand wash the lower half in detergent, dry and steam again, before laundering it fully, and I am unsure how this will work out.  The shibori is a beautiful effect, and I think I would have been equally as happy if I had just left the whole piece dark blue – my original reason for not doing so, was so I could keep the button-up, and the stitching in white may have looked tatt.  As it is, the buttons took some of the colour and I love the effect.  

rrefashion shirt shibori

The other now big plus is, I am going to shibori my ‘teen age’ smock from last weeks post as I think the repair to the small holes will be concealed better!

vogue 5954 – mans shirt to vogue blouse – (mad about plaid)

vogue 5954 - mans shirt remade vogue blouse

I was hoping to make this blouse for my sister, but she told me that it wasn’t a style she would go for…. so I graded it down and thought I would try it.  I seem to be going through a bit of a plaid phase, (perhaps anticipating someone might get me the vivienne westwood book for chirstmas ……seeing as I have dropped enough hints), and I didn’t even check if the pattern recommended plaid – and sure enough it didn’t, but I was keen to remake the shirt, and keen to try pattern, and thought it could be handy to try, and if it didnt work out, then I would still have some good panels to rework.  nothing ventured……nothing gained…………

vogue 5954 - mans shirt remade vogue blouse

The photo shows a rough layout of the pattern – front yoke not placed properly yet.  I was a bit dim when I went to cut the back.  I thought I would be super smart and leave it a back button blouse – and I never checked the centre line, and the former front of shirt is not balanced on the centre plaid line – and the button down plaids didn’t match – I hadn’t noticed they did not line up – I just assumed they did – so I ended up sewing a back seam anyway (centre back seam is not centred technically).   Note- I only matched the plaid one way on yokes – centre line out (I matched the main part of blouse both ways), fabric for yokes was limited and I also thought as there would not be a perfect match either way.

vogue 5954 - mans shirt remade vogue blouse

The centre front yolk came out even enough, but I had to baste it (which is no bad thing and I should consider doing this more- that is, baste first, then sew, rather than sew, rip, sew, rip, baste, sew….).  I top stitiched the yoke panels, both back and front, and used lining as the facing on the yokes. The shoulder seams were never going to match…. and they don’t There is a side zipper.  The fit is good, and it ends just below waist.  
It has a nice tailored feel to the blouse – and it has a great shape to it, and like a lot of tailored clothes, your posture improves the minute you try them on!

I don’t know about the bow…. I think when the blouse is done in a silk, which I intend to try, the bow may work better then.    I would definitely do a button back from refashioning a shirt the next time.

vogue 5954 - mans shirt remade vogue blouse

On a completely different project, I am in a dilemma on where to start with this one

I got this plaid skirt some weeks ago.  Its wool, and I like the colours, and now the dilemma what to make.  I could do another plaid overblouse  or jacket, and I could also try a dress…. Hard to know as these plaid squares are big.  I was thinking of another coat as I have a black wool skirt and have black as sleeves and yoke and plaid as body (starting at armpits as opposed to bust in the photo below), and keeping the neckline round – and then I am thinking – o dear – another coat……………………..

The skirt panels measure  120cm x 80cm (80cm is the grainline) x 2