Refashioning for the tall

Now, I dont know about you, but I have more than once been fooled by the gorgeous pictures on somebody’s blog where they are showcasing a smart and remarkably good- looking garment, refashioned from a men´s shirt. Just as many times, I have become disappointed about the unsatisfactory result when I try to do something similar. Why oh why isn´t the pretty shirtdress working for me? The answer in 9 of 10 times is: I´m too tall… I can´t make a dress from only one shirt. It just isn´t enough fabric! 🙂 I have yet to successfully add a bust dart too, the shirts I am using are never that big.  To illustrate: I rarely have enough fabric in one shirt to make a Sorbetto with a FBA out of it.

The largest refashion resource of mine is my darlings old shirts, which are usually in an European size XL. If you shorter and smaller than me, I can imagine that you can squeeze lots of different project out of a shirt like that, but for me (I´m 1.77), it´s just not that much fabric…Which is why I have been experimenting with optional ways of refashioning, and found a method I like. It really is quite simple, but I thought I´d share it with you all, and I hope it can be of help for others! I guess this method works for more body types than mine too, for instance  if you’re plus- sized or busty, or if you just want to refashion a shirt that isn´t way too big.
For this refashion I am using the basic shape of New Look 6808:

I am using the collar of view E, but I am adding sleeves.

I have made this top once before, but with a different view. The view I am making is using the same collar as Zoe used for a refashion a while back. Thanks for the idea, Zoe!

 MMMar´11: Day 14

My first version using this pattern.

The first thing I did was to try on the shirt I wanted to use. This particular shirt is one I got at a charity shop a year ago, I just loved the print! Can you believe that this was in the men´s department? Fashion-wise it must have been so much more fun to be a guy in the 70´s than it is now…


When you are trying on the garment, look for changes you want to make:

  • Is it too wide?
  • Are the shoulder seams where they should be?
  • How is the sleeve length?
  • What about the hem, is it where you want it to be, or should your shorten it or alter it in another way?
  • Do you like the collar?
  • Are there any pockets?
  • Is there a yoke that you have to take into consideration?

I already knew what I wanted to do with the neckline, I wanted to add a giant collar! I found the shirt to be a bit too big, and I wanted a more fitted look, so I decided to take it in 4 cm in both sides, from hem to arms. I wanted short sleeves, and for the hemline to be a bit shorter. Although the shoulder seams are not quite right, I decided to let it be, as they will more or less be hidden underneath the collar.

The first thing I did was to cut out the right shape for the neckline. I used the pattern pieces from my pattern to get it right.

Cut the neckline as you want it to be

After I had cut out the neckline I shortened the sleeves. I measured 18 cm from the shoulder seam, and cut a straight line using my cutting mat as reference. You can hopefully see it in the picture below how I did that.


Then I tried it on again, making sure that the sleeve length turned out alright.


The next thing I did was to take the shirt in. I stitched one continuous seam from the hem and trough the sleeve.  When I had done that, I attached the collar, using the instructions from my pattern. I had a bit too much fabric in the back of the shirt for it to add up with the collar, so I folded it into a back pleat. Because of the huge collar, it is not even going to show.


At last I finished off the sleeves and the hem. I am quite satisfied with this one, although it is a bit off season…




No Comments

  1. Seeks on 12/10/2011 at 13:18

    Great refashion! Totally new look and better than those shirtdress refashions I see out there. Definite refashion inspiration! 🙂 Thanks for the step by step too; it helps me grasp some refashion principles more solidly.

  2. Barbara on 12/10/2011 at 13:36

    Ha! I have the same “problem”! There is never enough material in a shirt to make a dress or a skirt. And I found that I can refashion only shirts without bust darts, like the one you used here. Otherwise the darts hits high over the bust apex and the shirt pulls up on the chest.
    Your blouse turned out very pretty! The fabric is fabulous.

  3. Alessa on 12/10/2011 at 13:51

    Very cute! I love that you could keep the shoulder seams, sleeves and button! I took a shirt apart to make a neckholder dress but I gave it up until next summer. There barely is enough fabric (and I’m 1.64cm!), I even pieced the sleeves to make the bodice…! 😉

  4. Donna on 12/10/2011 at 13:57

    I love both of your versions! I call that a very successful refashion. 🙂

  5. Andrea on 12/10/2011 at 14:13

    Your new top s cute, and the fact that it’s up-cycled makes it even better. I must confess I’m on the short side of things so I’ve been successful in refashioning a few of my husband’s shirts (who’s extremely tall!) but your notes will be helpful for the next time I find a smallish man shirt at a charity shop – thank you!

  6. Stacy on 12/10/2011 at 14:23

    You did a great job with this! It is hard to believe fabrics like that were once popular for men–so much more interesting than the boring solids and stripes of today. 🙂 I also LOVE the picture of your earlier New Look 6808 and Beignet skirt. Must add that to my Pinterest style file! 🙂

  7. Zoe on 12/10/2011 at 16:32

    You are welcome! I LOVE your top! That print is amazing and the contrast white collar is so good xxx

  8. Sarah on 12/10/2011 at 17:21

    Oh, how pretty!! What a beautiful refashion!

  9. Ali on 12/10/2011 at 17:58

    Wow, a great refashion! I enjoyed Zoe’s as well and I’ve got a stack of men’s shirts in the stash waiting to be tinkered with… 🙂

  10. Scruffybadger on 12/10/2011 at 19:50

    Cute!!! I have that pattern and every time someone makes it up it makes me think I should try it again. The shirt refashion is fabulous. I have a pile of ladies blouses to refashion, so maybe I’ll experience a similar challenge! Thanks for tips 🙂

  11. Tors on 12/10/2011 at 23:02

    Wow, it looks great! And what a wonderful print, loving those 70’s fashions. I’m always so in awe of anyone that refashions because I haven’t got a clue!

  12. Sølvi on 12/10/2011 at 23:13

    Thanks for all the lovely comments! They are really encouraging me to jump into some more refashions! 🙂

  13. Mary on 13/10/2011 at 03:18

    This is terrific-I love the print on the shirt and the contrasting collar. The NL pattern is one of my faves.

  14. Shelly on 13/10/2011 at 09:07

    Great refashion! I love the print on the shirt and the contrast collar. I bought this pattern after I saw Zoe’s refashion. I’ll be making the sleeveless top with a white collar too. I have the fabric ready, now I just need the time to make it.

  15. Alana on 13/10/2011 at 11:58

    So cool Solvi! And you’ve just reminded me that that pattern needs to go on my wish-list!

  16. Debbie on 13/10/2011 at 12:52

    Lovely top Solvi. It looks very pretty with the collar addition.

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