I have a nice little stash of men’s button-down shirts that I’ve acquired from both my husband and my Dad. I keep telling myself how I need to up-cycle them. There are so many benefits from up-cycling men’s shirts:
-They’re often free from family or very inexpensive if you pick them up at the second-hand store
-Shirting fabric usually has a lovely drape and feels so nice
-The colors are often sophisticated and look gorgeous on girls
-The buttons and button-holes are already done for you
-And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, they still smell a little bit like Daddy or Grandpa’s cologne even after the wash
I’ve admired the Lauren Pintuck Top and Tunic pattern ever since it released. Seriously, YOU HAD ME AT PINTUCK, Lauren Pattern! You had me at pintuck… But after making a couple I’m actually pretty shocked at how easy it is. The pintucks are just the icing on the cake of the perfect pattern for up-cycling these treasures and I suspect my stash of button downs will dwindle very quickly.
For the most part, you’ll be following the pattern as written. There are just a few things to keep in mind when cutting into Grandpa’s old shirt and I’ll walk you through them.
What you need:
-One Men’s Button-Down Shirt
–Lauren Pintuck Top and Tunic Pattern
The first thing to do is make sure the Front Shirt Pattern piece will fit on the back of the shirt. Do this by folding the back of the shirt in half, making sure it’s folded evenly by matching the side seams. Lay the pattern piece on top. I used an XL men’s shirt and was able to make a Size 12 tunic length Lauren out of it, which is one of the biggest sizes in the pattern so chances are you’ll be good to go.
At this point, remove the front pocket with a seam ripper. I prefer to remove the basting stitch from the inside of the shirt and then the front stitch will come out all in one piece. Rub the tiny holes that are left with a wet cloth, dry, and iron. If the holes are still visible try running the shirt through the washing machine and dryer. They should be invisible by this point but if not, this might not be the shirt to use. Better to know now then after you’ve completed the garment!
Next, start cutting. Before cutting out your pieces, I recommend cutting the shirt apart. I started by cutting the back of the shirt completely off. Starting at the side seam bottom, I cut up and along the sleeve seam, just under the yoke, back down the opposite sleeve seam, and down the opposite side seam. That way, you’re dealing with a nice flat piece of fabric and can get a precise cut for the pattern piece.
When cutting out your back pieces cut them from the front of the shirt. You definitely want to utilize those buttons and button holes! In order to accomplish this, simply use the same cut line from the pattern that you would normally use. See how I lined up the edge of the shirt with the edge of the pattern? Do it that way and it should work. The width you would lose in the seam allowance when sewing the two back pieces together will match the width you will lose when buttoning up the shirt.
Also, I recommend lining up the top of the Back Shirt pattern piece 1″ above a button. It’s very important to make sure the buttons fall in the right spot of the shirt. (I didn’t do this with my maroon shirt and the first button is a little lower than I’d like.) Then, when you cut out the other side of the front, be sure the buttons and button-holes line up on the two front pieces.
Continue cutting the sleeve pieces out of the original sleeves from the shirt and you might even get the facings out of the sleeves, as well. Do not cut out the button loop piece. Once all your pieces are cut, begin following the pattern instructions.
Follow the instructions until Step 6 and the Button Loop. Skip the button loop because you’re super cool like that and don’t need one.
At Step 7 you will sew the facing to the neckline as instructed with one minor exception. The two small lengths of stitching that go down the sides of the back facing (along the shirt center back) will not be stitched at the usual seam allowance. For these small bits you’ll want to stitch as close as you can to the edge of the shirt back. This is important so I’m showing you two views of this stitch.
The reason you want to stitch close to that edge is because when you turn it right side out you don’t want to loose 1/2 inch of the back edge of the finished shirt. You want it to look like this.
Now you can continue cruising along until you get to Step 10: Back Closure. Serge along the bottom edge of the shirt as instructed and then SKIP the rest of the step. How cool is that?!? Your back is already finished for you!
When hemming start at the bottom corner of the back – right where my finger is touching. I’m not sure why I’m showing you the wrong side of the shirt but don’t let that confuse you. Hem as usual with the right side up. Anyway, start at the very bottom corner and up to the folded up edge and then continue edge-stitching all the way across the shirt as instructed until you get to the other back edge, where you’ll want to again sew down to the bottom corner. Since the back of the shirt is open, this will close up that little hole that a straight hem stitch would leave.
Finally, take a look at your topmost button. Chances are it sits right at the facing. Using a seam ripper, cut a hole in the facing through the button hole. Be careful to not cut your buttonhole! I treated with Fray Check and then stitched some tight zig-zag stitches to the left and right of the buttonhole on the facing only.
See, now my buttonhole goes through the shirt and the facing.
And Voila! You have a lovely Lauren Pintuck Top or Tunic that your girl will love.