Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project: Men's Dress Shirt Dress

Since Spring isn't listening and we just keep getting more snow, I've decided to stop fighting it and just go with this Wintery theme: Corduroy! ManiMina on Etsy has some really great patterns. A few months ago I bought a set of patterns for recycling men's dress shirts into cute toddler wear. One pattern makes this awesome dress, another makes a top and skirt, and the third has you turn the arms of the shirt into a pair of pants.

I bought a super thick brown corduroy shirt at the Salvation Army for a buck. I thought it would be great for winter. When I took these photos the dress fit perfectly. Then two weeks and a growth spurt later, it was a tunic. I don't know how Mr. Lemon and I turned out this tall kid. I'm 5'2" and Mr. Lemon is no basketball player.

I decided to add some length to the sleeves since this would be worn when it's cold (and now with leggings, also super cute). That was not successful at first; the armholes, which fit perfectly with short sleeves, were way too tight when lengthened. I cut an ovalish shape out of some of the scraps and sewed them into the armpit area after ripping apart that seam. Now it's perfect. I will have to watch out for that when lengthening other patterns. It's no fun to hem sleeves so I added some cute bias trim that I bought on Etsy (it's Michael Miller) before I knew you could make your own.

The dress seemed dark to me so I went nuts with my sewing machine's very limited selection of decorative stitches and added a bunch of detail. I just put some pins in to give me some direction. That was quick, fun and really easy so I'm definitely going to keep doing that little trick.

Finally, I dug through my stash of vintage buttons and found some interesting ones to use in place of the hideous ones that came on the shirt (I bought a tin full of buttons at a yard sale for $3 a few years ago -- what a find!). The only really challenging part about making this dress, for me, was the thickness of the fabric -- especially where there were existing details in the shirt. It was a lot of bulk for my machine but the Huskystar once again pulled through.

I loved making this. I had made the same pattern with short sleeves for a friend in the Fall and will definitely use this pattern again. There are some other tutorials floating out there online for similar projects out of men's dress shirts so I'm going to try them all and report back to you.