Monday, November 6, 2017

White Linen Again

White linen is wonderful to cut, press, sew. This one started life as a large man's shirt - lots of potential. And it is currently a woman's linen shirt. It's like full circle. But the ride was such fun.

The MixIt top from Sewing Workshop is often my starting place with upcycled items. I like that it fits throught the shoulders and bust and then there's plenty of room below. The original shirt was plenty large for cutting out the MixIt Top.

Above I have the MixIt Front piece on top of both the left and right fronts of the original shirt. I aligned the fold line on the tissue with the buttons and buttonholes on the shirt. That is, I aligned the Center Fronts. So I did not disturb the buttons or button holes on the original shirt at this point, figuring to make my shirt button up the front too.

The back was cut on the fold, using the fabric below the original yoke. This was a BIG shirt. I rather like the shape of the man's shirt tail and so decided to keep it, removing only enough of the hem stitching to sew my side seams.

This shirt was big enough for me to cut long sleeves. I used the sleeve cap for the MixIt Top and the rest of the sleeve was cut from the MixIt Shirt. That is such a great, versatile pattern. I still had to reshape the lower portion of the sleeve a bit to smooth out the lumps. But I was able to keep the button placket from the original shirt.

Then I began to play with the leftovers.

The original yokes became sleeve cuffs, though I had to use a piece of white Kona cotton for the back side of the cuffs.

Oops. this needs pressing!
The original cuffs became my collar.

The original collar became my pocket.

And then I began to puzzle how I would deal with the buttonholes from the original shirt. Of course they remained on the left side of the shirt, as is traditional in men's shirts. That's awkward when you've been buttoning the other way for nearly 7 decades (!). And it was fun to think about options.

At Gail K in Atlanta I found these silver coin buttons. These are obviously not made from coins - they are too small to be nickels and check out the tiny ones I used for the pocket and upper sleeve placket. I love these little silver buttons. They remind me of my Texas roots for some reason.

My current solution to the closure puzzle is this: I used some of the scraps to make bias tubes and threaded the tubes through the button shanks. Then I threaded the tubes through the original button holes and tied a knot in the tubes on the back side. Also I added a new row of buttonholes to the right side of the front.

One added advantage to this solution is that I can easily remove (most of) the buttons when I launder the shirt. I thought it might feel wierd when I wear it, but it does not. So far. I can always change it. And that's one of the best reasons to sew.

Bottom Line:
Thrifted Shirt - $2.75
Buttons - $18.00
Time spent - Priceless? Yep.


  1. Totally ingenious the way you made it all work! And you rescued all that lovely linen too.

  2. Lovely shirt - like how you used all of the shirt.

  3. this is fantastic!
    thank you for the detailed step by step pictures...

  4. This is a beautiful upcycle shirt. Nice work Martha!