Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Refashioners 2015 - 4 shirts 1 dress!

I was excited enough when I saw the line up for this year's The Refashioners Challenge organised by Portia from Makery.uk but when I spotted here that it had opened up to ordinary sewers to take part too I got extra excited and started mentally planning how I would refashion a shirt.

I have refashioned shirts twice before for the mini me but never for me. 

My favourite item of clothing to wear is a dress, so for me that was the obvious choice of garment to turn a shirt into. I had in mind the pattern I drafted last year for my Parasol dress with some thing different at the front.

I also wanted to be able to wear it in the autumn as I knew I wasn't going to have a chance to sew it during the school holidays. I had in mind a heavy cotton drill shirt, like the Dickies one Chris has in his wardrobe that is too new and worn too often to be refashioned. I browsed a couple of charity shops and on eBay but couldn't find anything suitable, my light bulb moment was army surplus shirts. I wasn't sure if I can wear that much green but I can wear that much blue.

One shirt wouldn't make a dress so I bought four Royal Navy shirts from an online Army Surplus store with the request of them being as large as possible. 

This is what arrived, four shirts varying slightly in colour, complete with their name tapes and their uniform badges. I loved the shoulder straps and pockets and buttons that are a little larger than normal shirt buttons. One shirt had the previous wearer's name stencilled into the inside back of the shirt. I like the badges too but decided not to use them for the dress.

This is the dress...
 ...and me feeling a bit awkward posing for my photo! 
Thank you Wendy Ward for taking them!

This is how I made it...

 I decided that I wanted to keep as many of the shirts features e.g. pockets, shoulder straps and plackets into the dress as I could. 

I dismantled the shirts to give me as much fabric as possible. I then joined pieces together to make larger pieces of fabric so that I could cut out my pattern pieces. Where I thought a pocket would work I left it on the fabric and removed those that got in the way. I removed them from the shoulders on the front of the bodice as they would have been too bulky and this left two darker patches of fabric that I placed symmetrically at the shoulder. 

I used one of the button stands as the centre front of the bodice and added pin tucks either side.
This was a variation I had wanted to try for this pattern and I really like it. I am planning on using it on a future dress too. 

I placed pockets on the skirt in line with the waist darts and used button stands as part of the skirt. 

A name tape made it onto the back of the dress.

With some sleeves and their cuffs at the hem

I used a fell seam to join the centre back pieces.

I reattached the shoulder straps to the sleeves.

An invisible zip, bias binding at the neck and sleeves finished it off. 

I now have a super comfortable, fun, completely unique dress that I love. 

Thanks for organising Portia, I'm looking forward to next year already. And thank you Wendy for teaching me the pattern cutting skills two years ago that enabled me to make this :)


  1. This is seriously awesome. SUCH great use of the base garments! Would love to share this if I may???!!

  2. Amazing dress, quite ingenious. and those blues are so lovely on you!

  3. This dress is really mind-blowing, and you're a very talented refashioner! I love it!