Fashion Design Tips for Dabbling in Design: How to Convert a Men’s Dress Shirt Into a Sundress
Fashionista, when I pulled out my grandma’s old sewing machine to tailor my bridesmaids dress for my brothers wedding, I thought, why not do more with it while it’s out? I don’t have too many cute, casual sundresses, and I know it’s trendy for girls to convert over-sized tees into mini dresses. But then I figured, why not start with a men’s dress shirt? It’s got more going on with the collar and, being button-down, I wouldn’t need to worry about anything like a zipper.
I visited the local Savers, a huge second-hand store offering quality merchandise. I picked out a cheap, blue plaid XL men’s long-sleeve dress shirt. It was all of six dollars. Here’s how I went about it, if you want to give it a try. It’s cheap, fun and easy, and you can sew on any decorations you want at the end. I’ll even include the things I wish I’d done differently, so y’all can learn from my mistakes.
Step One: Take you measurements. Measure: bust, ribcage, waist, hips, and the distance between the center of the top of your shoulders to the center of your armpit. I skipped this step, and just tried to measure the shirt against my body—this would have saved me some time.
Step Two: Cut off the sleeves. Don’t cut them quite as short as you’d like them to be at the end, just get them out of the way. Next, lay the shirt, (buttoned and inside out) on the floor. Divide all your measurements by four. You will measure these distances horizontally out from the buttons, as that length will be doubled in the front and doubled in the back.
Step Three: Take a washable pen or pencil, and mark the ends of these lengths at the bust, ribcage, waist and hips, starting at the distance from the top that your armpits are from your shoulders. Then draw a smooth line connecting the points about 1.5 centimeters out from the marks you made. That will leave you room for a seam. Taper it out into whatever shaped skirt you prefer.
Step Four: Cut along the line, and up the armpit-shoulder distance for whatever length sleeves you want. Now you are ready to sew! Make sure the shirt is still inside out, and sew along the inside of the line, (about 1.5 centimeters inside). Make sure to stop at the sleeves and hem them separately, you don’t want to sew the sleeves together! Open up the sleeve and sew around it— from the top of the shoulder around the front and around the back again to the top.
Try it on to make sure it fits. If not, take out some stitches and fix it where it needs to be altered. It’s not the end of the world if you mess it up— It took loads of tries when I did mine. When it fits, cut off the extra, and turn it right side out. You are done!
Feel free to add some decoration to the front. Hand-sewn bows, beads, or lace in any design you choose. I bought Venise Lace Appliques I plan to apply to mine.