Dreaming of … up cycling adventures

I very rarely buy rtw garments anymore, but last month I caved and picked up something I loved.

No it wasn’t a gorgeous dress, no the fabric wasn’t something that I’d be too scared to sew, no it didn’t fit perfectly and no I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.

Sounds like a recipe for success huh?

Basically it was this xs shirt for a man. The only thing that made me buy it was the pretty print, the softness of the cotton and the fact that it was on sale.


I got it home and put it on the mannequin. It was too tight over my chest area, but I wanted to make it into a simple sleeveless shirt by using the sleeves as panels in the side seam. I tacked these in and tried it on, but it looked horrible, so I took it back apart and came up with a new idea.

What about a shirt dress, from a shirt, with darts added and a simple skirt. I had my new plan.


I picked out a simple vest bodice pattern from my stash. By chopping off the sleeve and keeping the buttons closed, I could treat the shirt as a flat piece of fabric. I cut out the bodice back easily, but did need to add a panel to the bodice front sides in order to fit the pattern on. That was easily achieved and from there it was a very simple case of sewing the bodice together as usual. There were no fastenings needed as the buttons were already there.

Can you see the side panel?

Can you see the side panel?

Moving onto the skirt…

And just as simple. I cut one width of some thick black cotton in my stash, folded the short edges over twice to make the button placket (all I had to do was make sure it was the same width as on the shirt) and then pleated it into the shirt waist.


After adding button holes to the skirt section, I replaced the original buttons with these glittery ones from my stash, hemmed the skirt, bias bound the neckline and armholes, and within a couple of hours I had a brand new dress.


I really love that it looks like a shirt and skirt when worn with a belt.


Blackberry picking

Blackberry picking

Blackberry eating

Blackberry eating



But that you can tell its a dress without the belt and when you notice the buttons are all the same…





I also like the little pocket detail that lets you know it hasn’t always been made like this.


Watch this space for a similar project coming soon…I think I’ve found my new instant gratification project!

21 thoughts on “Dreaming of … up cycling adventures

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  3. Wow- this is really super cute and impressive! I haven’t yet taken on a repurposing like this– but I’m definitely inspired after seeing this post!

    How were you able to get the darts lined up to something that fit you so well? Did you use a pattern you’ve fitted previously to manipulate the men’s shirt front?

    Great job!!

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  5. Great idea for the shirt – the dress looks fabulous. I have a whole basket full of old men’s shirts from my husband & dad. Getting a lot of inspiration from you!!

    • Thank you! Glad I can inspire someone! I’ve just made another version too – you can get such nice fabric in men’s shirts! You’ll have to let me know when you make yours – I’ll look forward to seeing them!

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