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February 2015
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New Life For Daddy’s Old Shirts

Have you ever thought about renovating old clothes to make new garments?  If some of your customers are going through hard times, but still need sewing done, you could try various renovating projects ahead of time, just to see what you’d feel comfortable doing, then offer those services to your customers.  There are many “renovating” projects that can be done; however we’re going to focus on making a girls blouse or boys shirt from a man’s shirt.  (You can get lots of other ideas and instructions from the book “Make A Child’s Wardrobe From Your Old Clothes“.)

A size two blouse or shirt pattern is about the largest that can be made from a man’s medium size shirt.  If the shirt is long sleeve you can make either a long sleeve or short sleeve blouse / shirt; and of course if the man’s shirt is short sleeve, you could only do short sleeves on the children’s blouse or shirt.  The children’s blouse or shirt can be made with larger patterns if you’re using a large or extra large man’s shirt.

** Carefully cut up the shirt, following all the seams.  Cut the sleeves so they will lie flat.

** Lay together the two front pieces of the shirt and pin the blouse/shirt back below the pockets.  The blouse/shirt back is supposed to be on a fold, but when you’re making it out of a shirt, it just can’t be done.  The next best thing is to make a seam up the middle of the back, which doesn’t detract from the finished garment.  When you are cutting out the back, be sure to allow for the center back seam, otherwise the blouse/shirt back will be smaller than the pattern.

** Next, fold the back of the shirt.  Pin the blouse front to the tail of the man’s shirt.  Use the top of the back for strips for the front bands of the blouse.

** Lay the shirt sleeves together and pin the blouse/shirt sleeve as far towards the top as it will go.  (If the elbows of the man’s shirt sleeves are worn, then the short sleeve blouse/shirt pattern is the only one you can use).

** Depending on the condition of the man’s shirt, you may not be able to cut a collar for the blouse/shirt, so you may have to use a co-ordinating color fabric that would go with the color of the shirt, or if the shirt is plaid or printed, use one of the colors within the shirt for the collar — and you could even use the co-ordinating fabric for cuffs on the sleeves (if making long sleeves) and for the front band of the shirt/blouse.

By using men’s old shirts, the cost of the little blouse or shirt is only the labor that was spent in renovating the shirt.

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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