Refashioning Men’s Dress Shirts

Fashion is about taking risks and combining new elements.  Sometimes you will find clothes that express your vision straight off the store rack and other times you have to make your own.  For the past year or so, I have been so inspired by all the DIY sewing projects I have seen on various blogs where you work without a pattern and just create as you go.   It has opened up a new realm of creativity for me.  While I still like sewing with patterns, free sewing has helped me learn to see new possibilities in materials and experiment as a designer.

I am hardly the first blogger to be inspired to refashion a cast-off man’s dress shirt.  There is something irresistible about sewing with this material.  Perhaps it has to do with the handsome man who used to wear the shirts.  Perhaps it is the high quality material the shirts are made of.

Whatever the reason, I recently found myself in need of some new formal dresses for my little girls and as a creative challenge, decided to see what I could come up with using their dad’s old dress shirts.

First, I knew that I would need to girl-up the shirts since the patterns were overwhelmingly masculine.  So, with my daughter’s assistance (who is a budding fashionista), we paired the first shirt with lace.

and the second shirt with pink and purple ribbons.

I tried to cut the shirts apart in ways that minimized the amount of sewing necessary.  In general the fabric was quite nice to work with although one of the shirts was made of a very thick material that bent quite a few needles and pins.  I used elastic to reduce the shirts to little girl size and create feminine gathers.  The lace and ribbons were essential to finish the transformation.


What I love the most about these shirtdresses is that it gives our girls a little “hug” from Dad.  This would be a great project to do for Father’s Day, to honor a special man in your life or to repurpose an heirloom.

Have you done any wardrobe refashioning/recycling?  Please share in the comments.