Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ellis Shirt Dress Remake! Part 1

Hello there!

I will be posting multiple posts showing step by step how I went about making this wonderful mans shirt into a shirt dress. This is to help everyone. I'm also hoping that there will be discussion from everyone, from those who needs clarification, own updates with how the project is going or from those experienced with alternative ways, new ideas and advice. We can then fine tune the finished product together!

So this is how we started. Apologies for the bad lighting, it was evening time in some of the photo's.

And this was how we finished. lighting was terrible again, because it was so sunny outside!

Note to self. Find a better place to take pictures and work out the settings on the camera!

So I am actually quite excited to get wearing this, I'm now fed up of the cold weather. If I wanted to wear this I would need a nice cardigan to compliment it. Unfortunately I get soooo cold that I end up with 2 or 3 jumpers on by the end of the evening, even with the dogs as hot water bottles, hehe. Before I start with the first step, I rather recommend making your own dress form. It's not hard and I had it done in under an hour, not including the school run. It felt quite funny to do too! 
Duct Tape Dress Form

Making your dress form
(links are in captions)

I decided to make a duct tape form after realising how many times I would be taking it on and off. Having one of these to hand was the best thing, however a bit of advice:
Sourced from: Threads Magazine

  • Don't forget to put a hanger in the top of it, like this or make a stand.
  • Make sure there are enough layers of tape.

I didn't take pictures of this process on me because my helper was the Mr, he was using his last afternoon of the Christmas holidays to help me do this - that means a lot. He had a huge list of things he wanted to get done. So I roped him in to helping me instead which was great! 

Without a dress form, you will be trying it on yourself quite a bit in this process. Pins may be a little of a nuisance but I found putting them on the outside of the shirt helped, although not always possible. You may need a helper for taking it on and off. 

So moving on to the dress!
Here were the short and sweet instructions that came with the idea. 

"I removed and seam-ripped the collar and used that entirely for the midriff section! I kept the button on and used the collar stand for the front and the collar itself as the midriff back. The original cuffs were refashioned into the sleeve bands, and I added pockets using scrap material. With the top button open, I ironed the top to create mini-lapels; but the dress can also be worn completely buttoned too.
As in all projects, an iron was indispensable for this dress (men’s dress shirts just seem to attract wrinkles!). I used mine when creating the pintucks, darts, and sleeve pleats, finishing the midriff and sleeve bands, and pressing all seam allowances."

From this short description and her pictures, I thought I could recreate what she had done. What could I lose doing it? Just a cheap shirt. What did I gain doing it? A "made by moi" shirt dress, the importance of the different types of stitches and getting the tension correct, the need for measuring tape more often and so much more (this will be evident by the end of the tutorial). Anyway, she was definitely right about the wrinkles but I didn't fret so much over it the whole time.

So I got myself this shirt (from the wardrobe that hasn't been opened in a year - I'm sure the Mr wouldn't mind ;) ). It was a small size which is great because I am a size 6-8, so when searching for a suitable shirt, try it on and make sure there is enough excess fabric which will assist with the making of the pleats.

Today we going to tackle the collar.

First step:

The collar is in two parts. Using a seam ripper, carefully take off the outer hard collar and then the inner softer collar. I say carefully because I did get a bit confident with this and slightly frayed a little part of the fabric that will eventually be on show. 
This is what you will have once you have taken it apart. 

Next take off the cuffs. Put them out of the way.

Second step:
This is where having the dress from came in handy. I could play with the shirt and how I wanted the new collar to look like. If you don't however, have a look in the mirror and see what you are comfortable with. You will likely need to mark which buttons sit comfortably open without showing any lingerie or bust (1). For me this was the second button down. This meant the third button was perfect for where part of the collar was going to go (2). For those with bigger busts, it maybe that two buttons are needed between the (1) and (2). Looking at the original maker of the dress, she has one between as well.

So I played with the collar and found what I liked. I layed it out like this to determine how many inches I would be taking off. I believe I took 3 1/2 inches down either side and then reduced it to 2 inches at the front so that the top button was about an inch from the top. 

The back was a little trickier, so I drew a line where I was happy for it to go to and then using card made a little template so that it matched either side.

Third step:

Right to make sure that it looked okay, I didn't chop the excess off straight away. I chopped vertically towards the line and made several flaps (diagram 1). This isn't necessary if you know that you will be comfortable with it, but I like to be sure, sure and sure again and there is no harm in doing this extra step. This is so that I could fold it over and pin in place. I was happy with that so I then cut off the excess fabric. You never guess what I did though, I didn't leave an adequate amount for the hem (seam allowance). I literally chopped next to that line. Sooo... don't do that and make sure you leave either 1/2 inch or 1 inch for the hem.

Diagram 1: demonstrates how I went about making the flaps
(are these called darts? I'm not sure). 
Where I chopped vertically towards the new collar line.

I straight stitched the hem quite close to the top, I think 1/4inch would be generous, due to the very little seam allowance.
My sewing machine was set to:

  • Tension 3
  • Stitch A
  • Spacing 2
This is how it turned out.

But... look what happened!
As I took the pin out while sewing it let go of some of the fabric and it didn't get stitched in, it does not look neat. So I plan on either hand stitching this or figuring out bias taping? if that is the right thing to use on it (experts please confirm).

Apart from those little bits and the small factor that the hem was too short. I think it didn't turn out too bad.

Thinking about it looking at the picture below, I should have left the flaps at the front closer to the button and the reason for this was so that the finish looked neater when the collar is left open like below. Something that you may consider.

I think I need to clarify what I mean. 
Looking at diagram 1 above, there are 3 lines demonstrating where some of the flaps have been created. The front two could be left on so that you can avoid having to rectify the issue above with bias tape and as an added bonus it would look neater when open, like the picture below. 

So there you have your collar.
I'm sure with these notes, you can make the finish a bit more professional.
Notes to remember:

  • Use the seam ripper really carefully.
  • Make a pattern on a piece of card if you need to. 
  • Leave bigger hem excess!
  • The front flap fabric is totally optional but would probably look better.

Next time we will be taking the shirt in a little.

Have fun!

Lily x x

1 comment:

  1. i came here for your instruction, i was not disappointed and as a beginner i must say you have done it right ... very inspirational ....
    best wishes from belgium^^