Altering Shirt Dress

As the last bit of a chill is hovering over the Cowichian Valley, the ground, plants, trees and birds are just bursting at the warmth of spring to come. Its just not planting weather yet.

I have been enjoying my altered clothing experience! I highly recommend it for anyone who knows how to sew!

The purple/blue plaid shirt purchased from Hudson's Bay store in Victoria shrunk badly after the first wash. I love these colors and wanted to get more use from brand new shirt.
The shirt after washing and hanging to dry was too short.

I didn't want to lose the cowboy shirt rounded front style but I think most of us would prefer a little more belly coverage than this length offered me?

This upcycling adventure was not the first altered clothing I had done since in my late teens. I learned upcycling from a German trained tailor while living part time on Long Beach before it was a National Park.

I was quite dissapointed when I took this shirt out of the washer. I shook the shirt wet against the laundry room air in hopes of NOT realizing my worse dream for this favorite newly purchased shirt. But there it was, a shirt that shrunk in cold water in the washing machine!

This was the last straw and so the frustration of buying new tops that shrank badly became another step in my development of an handmade textile art. I hand embroidered my jeans back in the 1970's and soon friends began to pay me money to meander embroidery across their jeans too! I hand embroidered little wee baby shirts that are somewhere out there. I began taking this obsession with stitching to a whole new level in the late 1990's with crazy quilting.

I love the freedom of playing with how to actually decide what to add or delete in the new piece.

Here in photo above you'll see that I have hand sewn two men's ties onto the front facing. The flimsey facing was almost none existant and required something more to keep the button holes looking nice long term and for the buttons which are going to upcycled as well to fit well into.

From my "Purple Crazy Quilt" that was sold some time ago, you can see that I love the color purple. And if you haven't seen the movie with Ophra Winfrey in it, you should find "The Color Purple."

Its inspiring and sad,  but so meaningful a movie...bring tissues!

AND because I love hand stitching in all my art, why not do more of it on my newly upcycled shirt dress.

I have sewn together random sized chunks into another ruffle for the bottom of this shirt dress. I'm itching to start wearing it. I think its going to be so popular that I might just share it even more than here on my blog.

I just love this telephone print, don't you? I decided to add various improv stitching bits to add to the whole texture of this shirt dress.

I have added satin fabric, all upcycled, to the bits of toile barkcloth, vintage bits and orphaned blocks from hexie projects.

The next post on this shirt dress will be the end of it. I plan on finding some lacey cotton table cloth for the bottom edge that will show poking out from under this last row of ruffles. I also plan on adding pockets to the front and maybe a slim set of straps that I'll tie at the back.

I am loving this so much, I've already started another t-shirt upcycle.

And I've made progress on Mexacali Heat too. Onward I strive to get out from underneath all these tops to finish. Thank you to some very special ladies who I've never met but continue to inspire me, nudge me to get going and encourage me.


  1. Wonder how manufacturers can get away with selling fabrics that still manage to shrink despite being washed in cold water. Surely they know? Must say that your solution is rather inspired though. (ps - thanks for the shout out!).

    1. Thank you Mary Anne, you are welcome and enjoying your shared landscape.

  2. I do like that although your worst fears came true with the shrinking you have worked your magic and made this your very own. I like the addition of the toile barkcloth, I know it's very popular at the moment, do you find it is stiffer to work with? Was the satin easy to sew?

    1. Hi Maureen! Thank you for sharing your support and questions.Satin requires more pinning and that's it. Bark cloth is a wee stiffer. This bark cloth was washed first. Cheers across the ocean!


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