Guest post: The Shirt off Daddy’s back

by Admin on 28/06/2011

in Green Crafting, Guest Blogger

Guest post by Wendi Gratz: You can find Wendi online at Shiny Happy World where she is on a mission to teach beginners of all ages how to sew. All of her patterns are especially designed for beginners and include links to free video tutorials teaching every skill you’ll need to complete the project.

Today Wendi is introducing a Workshop she is running called The Shirt Off Daddy’s Back Sewing Workshop which begins 10 July. The workshop will teach participants how to make girls’ clothes out of men’s shirts, and will include skirts, dresses, and aprons using both knit and woven fabric (from T-shirts and dress shirts). All patterns are included as well as video lessons for each project, plus a few extras such as how to crochet a scalloped border, embroider a pretty hem, and sew on knit ruffles. Find more info here. Wendi is giving away a free spot in the workshop to a Whip Up reader! Just leave a comment telling me about your favorite thing to make for kids. Contest will be open for 48 hours. Congratulations Cinnamon. You have been contacted via email.

Choosing Shirts to Refashion

I love a good wardrobe refashion. It’s good for the environment; it pleases my thrifty soul; and when it involves reworking my husband’s clothes into outfits for my daughter – I find it incredibly sweet. She loves to wear her daddy’s old clothes!

When I started out refashioning, I was just cutting old garments apart to reuse the fabric. I’ve learned to go a step further and now I also work to reuse a lot of the finish and detail work from the original. It preserves some of the character of the shirt I started with, and it also gives me some great details in the finished piece – with less work! Here’s what to look for. . .

  1. A good hem. For dress shirts I love curved shirt tails – those look lovely at the bottom of a skirt or dress. Many casual button-down shirts have straight hems – but some of them have nice notches at the side seams and that’s also a nice detail. For T-shirts – make sure the hem is intact. That double-stitched hem is often the first seam to go on an inexpensive tee. But you can dress up those plain t-shirt hems in lots of cute ways.
  2. Pockets. Pockets with curved bottom corners are nice. So are nice details at the top edge.
  3. Shoulder yokes and back pleats. Both of these details add a lot to the construction time if you do them yourself. Some strategic cutting on a shirt with them already in place will add a professional finish and take you no extra time.

A word on fabric

If the fabric feels good – use it. Remember – if you’re sewing for kids, comfort is the most important thing. If it’s stiff or itchy they won’t wear it, no matter how great it looks. One of the great things about using worn clothes is that they’re already ‘broken in': t-shirts are buttery soft and dress shirts that are no longer “crisp” enough for business are perfect for a drapey skirt. Let your fingertips be your guide. Find more info here.


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1 Julie Owen June 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

I love making flannel, pj pants and little special totes/bags of all sorts for all of their activities.

2 Nupur June 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

My favorite thing to make for kids- hands down- is knitted hats in the shape of fruits. Colorful and with stems/leaves at the crown. They look adorable.

I love the idea of repurposing shirts for kid clothes!

3 heleen June 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

I have two daughters and am a knitter, sewer and try-out lots of crafts. Who better to make things for then my girls. So they get skirt, dresses, knitted sweaters, hats, etcetera! Everything I – and they – like. Thrifting and repurposing gives me such inspiration in this process!

4 amy June 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

Wendi is great! I’ve made a few of her sewing patterns & one of her embroidery patterns, too. My favorite thing to make for my kids is whatever they’ve asked for. I suspect they look at me as a sort of short-order craftster on their behalf. ;)

5 Alyssa S June 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

It’s hard for me to pick I love see my kids play with the toys I’ve made but I also love seeing them in the clothing I’ve made. Don’t think I can choose.

6 Boden Coupon June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

Your advices are so useful for me, I have many old clothes, I feel reluctant to throw them away, but I don’t know how to solve this problem. I think the old clothes are useful now. The blue dress is so cute!

7 Rachel June 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

My favorite thing to make for my middle child is shirts. The store bought shirts tend to be a little to short and tight for her so I can custom fit them for her.

8 Rachel June 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

“too short” not to short!

9 Buffy Scott June 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Ooooh, that’s a tough question. I have five kids, 4 boys and a girl so I make just about everything. I love making anything upcycled for them…not just because it is less work (ie no hems, button plackets and such) but because doing so makes me feel that much more creative and crafty. I probably like making tops and dresses the most because they get worn a lot…though putting in a front fly zipper is pretty awesome cause everyone thinks it’s hard but it isn’t and it adds that extra touch of professional quality.

10 wendy June 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Lovely!!! I adore making girly clothes for my daughter… skirts, dresses… anything with lots of ruffles and cheerful colours :)

11 Cinnamon June 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

This is sooo cool! I happen to have a shirt hanging in my sewing room as we speak, just waiting for me to make it into something for my daughter. This workshop would be perfect! I love making clothes for my girl, knitted sweaters, dresses, and skirts, as well as sewing her shorts, jackets and anything else she might need. (Same goes for my boy.)

12 heather June 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

my favorite things to sew are simple t-shirt dresses-Workshop looks lovely!

13 kelli June 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I love making bags for kids. You can never have too many bags for Treasures!

14 Susan June 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

My favourite thing to make for kids are decorative t-shirts – an inexpensive t-shirt, some shiny fabirc or ribbon (lining will do), some thread and some beads – make a few flowers (lots ot tutorials on the web), decorate with beads (optional) and sew them on with ribbon or bits from another old t-shirt and voila – a designer shirt< i made one for my fashionista niece and she didn;t even realize the decorative detail was handmade.

15 Alison June 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I love making all sorts of things. Quilts are fun, but they take longer. I love making fleece baby blankets and burp cloths. I also love making pillow case dresses for little girls.

16 Michelle June 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I love making pretty dresses for my girl. She’s a few weeks away from her first birthday so she’s just getting to a place where she can wear them well.

17 Julie June 29, 2011 at 8:26 am

I like making cute skirts for the girls, since I can adjust where the hem line falls. For the boys, so far it’s been receiving blankets from flannels that have more than just sports and puppy dogs on them.

18 Shannon June 29, 2011 at 11:56 am

I have 2 boys so my fav thing is when a friend with a girl has i bday or its a holiday so i can make them an outfit or make something I have been saving from all the craft blogs i look @.

19 Bec Clarke June 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Oh so glad I caught up on my blog reading in time to enter this. Even if I don’t win I am off to check it out.

20 Rachel June 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm

my favorite thing is to sew pillowcase dresses

21 Melinda June 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I just love making dresses for my daughter… she love, love, loves them!!!

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