Creative Upcycling: The Dress Shirt Challenge Part 2


Follow along in this video as we start the process of taking apart the shirt, preserving the most fabric possible, and laying out the pieces. Both Shari and Donna are making great progress on their projects! Shari shares some tips for preserving the fabric, by carefully taking the shirt apart at the seams and showing us how to use a little water, a spoon, and some steam to magically remove any pin pricks and stitching holes! Donna shares her draping method and shows us how she strategically places the pattern pieces to optimize the original structure of the shirt. We hope you enjoy watching and feel inspired to start you own upcycling project too!


 Shari's tips for removing pin pricks and stitching holes:

This shirt used for this project has a front patch pocket, and I am pretty sure I will need to use the fabric underneath. I can carefully remove the pocket seams the same way I did all the other seams, but I will be left with needle holes that may show on my dress. So, before I start cutting pattern pieces, I want to take the time to fix these holes.

Here is the procedure to do that:

  • Dampen the shirt with some warm water and let it sit for a few minutes while the fibers soften. 
  • Use the curved end of a spoon or a clean toothbrush to rub over the needle holes. This will help to realign the threads of the fabric and close up the hole. If the holes are particularly troublesome, mix a little white vinegar in your water (about 1 – 2 tablespoons per cup). The vinegar opens the pores of the fibers which helps them to bind together more easily.
  • After working out the holes, lay the fabric between two pieces of cloth on an ironing board and steam and press with a hot iron. Use plenty of steam, turning the fabric as needed. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the results.

Shari's project is going to be the new Literary Society Dress. It has a lot of pieces, but it was fun to see how she got it to all fit on the shirt fabric! If you're looking for another pattern to try, you might want to try the Thimbles and Acorns Bustle Dress that was offered as a Freebie Friday pattern a few weeks ago!



Donna's tips for finding the fabric grain:

With an upcycled garment, you are presented with the challenge of finding the proper grain of the fabric. With this project, I was left with the sleeve caps from the original shirt and used this method to determine the grain of the woven fabric before laying out my pattern pieces.

  • Find a thread along the cut edge of the fabric piece.
  • Pull the thread to see how it lays across the fabric piece. In the image above the thread pull line is going diagonally just above my thumb fingernail.
  • This made the piece unworkable for my pattern piece, so I decided to find a different part of the shirt to use for my doll dress sleeves!

For my girls dress I featured a Butterick design from 2004 that I had in my stash. Unfortunately, that one is no longer available except on EBay or Etsy possibly. To replicate this idea, just look for a peasant style top or dress pattern in the size you are looking for!

To make the matching doll dress, Donna is using the Dollhouse Designs Fiesta Folklorico pattern as the base for her dress. You could also achieve a similar look with any peasant style dress or top pattern design, so search your stash, you just might have what you're looking for! A few others we'd recommend are the Liberty Jane UK Holiday patterns or the Love U Bunches Peasant Blouse.



March 12, 2022

Awesome!! As a “scraper” and “thrifter” this was some incredible information and hints. I am so enjoying this topic. Thanks!


March 11, 2022

Donna’s draping reminded me of something I meant to suggest as a topic in the future—using the draping technique to create doll clothes.

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