Friday, October 30, 2015

Reclaimed sewing: sewing with shirts for fabric: deconstruction

Yesterday, I posted on what to look for in a thrifted shirt, for the purposes of general sewing.  Today, we'll talk about my favorite part:  DECONSTRUCTION.



bwahahahahahaaaaa!

Did I mention that this is my favorite part?

When you're an expert like me, you can rip it all up, taking out all KINDS of frustrations on your sewing.  But baby steps. . . today we'll start with scissors.  :)



But first. . .

Make sure you have an appropriate shirt to deconstruct.  No smells, holes, or stains?
CHECK!


Good, sturdy fabric?
CHECK!


Interesting details?  No extra seams, tucks or darts?
CHECK! CHECK!


Perfect!  Let's get cutting!

Start by cutting the side seams, very, very close to the side seams.  If you can snip the actual seam threads, even better.




Continue on through the bottom seam of the sleeve (i.e. underarm.)



If there's a cuff, stop.


Cut off the cuff.



Repeat for the other side.

Next, cut along the shoulder seams, cutting off the sleeves completely.



Cut off the back placket yoke* (if there is one) and / or the collar.
(*thanks for the correction, Sydney!) :)


Cut the shirt front from the back {or placket yoke, if there is one}at the shoulder seam, and also the collar.


ta-daaa!

TIP:  if the back panel has a pleat like this one. . .



. . .carefully, CAREFULLY, snip each little stitch, or use your handy dandy seam ripper to take out those last few stitches.  Trust me, you don't want to cut or tear a big ol' hole right there in the middle of all of that prime real estate.  Not after all of your hard work.  You've come too far to make a rookie mistake like that.



The results. . . .

Now, let's see how much fabric you can actually end up with.  I placed these pieces on my 1" grid cutting board, measuring about 24" x 24" for comparison.

As you can see, the most fabric real estate in shirts is in the back. . .



and then the front. . .


The front of the shirt can be buttoned up / snapped, and then sewn together to make one larger piece like the back.  (I love doing this in my totes and pillows!)


Then the sleeves. . .  (It's more fabric than you think!)


And finally, back placket yoke, collar, and cuffs.


Keep in mind that the size and type of shirt you buy will determine how much fabric you'll have to use.  You may end up with more, or less, than what I've shown, depending on your shirt's size.

TIP:  Plan your shirt purchases based on what you're planning to sew, and how much fabric you're going to need.  For example, since I like to sew rugged messenger bags, I look for large shirts made from really sturdy fabrics, like the above shirt.  It's an appropriate fabric for the intended use.

Now what?

Get sewing!  Use your fabric pieces just like you would any other store-bought fabric!  There are thousands and thousands of projects you can make using smaller pieces of fabric.  The front and back pieces can actually be used just like any fat quarter (with some left over!)

Here are a few ways that I've used shirts in my sewing. . . .

https://www.etsy.com/listing/252165937/deep-brown-plaid-zipper-pouch-small?ref=shop_home_active_19

http://hello-refabulous.blogspot.com/2015/10/tutorial-autumn-acorn-pillow.html
and the other brown plaid shirt sleeve
 became the top of the acorn pillow!

the yellow fabric = ladies' shirt

 men's shirt = eco tote lining

lots of lavender sachets from one shirt!

more shirts, more linings




gobs of catnip mice

LOTS of options.  Need more inspiration?  Just search pinterest for "fat quarter projects" to find some great projects for your shirt backs and fronts, or "fabric scraps" for the sleeves, cuffs and collars.  These could keep you busy for a decade or two.

And please check out my sewing board on pinterest for EVEN MORE IDEAS.  :)

Have you ever used shirt fabrics in your crafting?  Do you have any suggestions or questions?  Please ask away in the comments below!

And be sure to check out my others posts on reclaimed sewing with thrifted clothing!

click HERE to read more...
click HERE to read more...
click HERE to read more...

Talk to you soon!


25 comments:

  1. Nice tutorial. I am also a repurposer and just wanted to say "Hi". I really enjoyed looking through the pictures of your projects. Thanks for sharing.

    PS. I found you on Pinterest.

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    1. Hi, SallyAnn! I'm so glad you dropped by, and glad to meet another repurposer! It's so much fun, isn't it? :) Thank you for your kind words!

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  2. great info. your work is wonderful!.thanks!

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    1. Thank you, shaktishiva2011, for your kind words and for dropping by! :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing, I love your ideas.

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    1. You're very welcome! Thank YOU for stopping by!

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  4. What patterns do you use for your bags, diapers and baby pants? Elizabeth knitpurlgrrl@attt.net

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    1. Hi, Elizabeth! Under the diaper and baby pants picture, I've linked to the blog post that contains the actual links to those patterns. :) The diapers are a Rita Rump Pockets diaper pattern, and the pants are by Purl Bee... both free! The bags are my own patterns that I drafted myself, and aren't available... yet! ;) Thank you for dropping by!

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  5. I use used clothing to patch our horse coolers which are usually made of wool! Men's wool pants are the best. Thanks for sharing -

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    1. So smart! Thank YOU for sharing your tip! :)

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    2. Great Idea! I sometimes felt the little holes but patching the big bits with wool pants is a great idea.

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  6. I don't have a baby but those were the cutest ever baby pants...omg must make for my friends new grandson!! how darling I am also an epic upcycler/thrifter and loved your tutorial

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    1. Thank you, Marcy! Enjoy making those baby pants... they're so much fun! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Great tutorial and idea! Love it! Thanks very much for sharing this. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jelena! Glad you liked it, and I hope it helps! :)

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  8. This is perfect, exactly what I was looking for! Thank you for a wonderful, well made and perfectly illustrated tutorial!

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    1. You're so welcome, Karen! Thanks so much for dropping by! :)

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  9. Love your recycling/reconstruction posts. I love, love doing that and am currently jazzing up a plain jane shirt by adding print fabric (from another shirt) to the inside of the front placket, collar stand and bias trim on the rolled up sleeve, as well as some top stitching on the collar. By the way, NOT a criticism, but the part of the shirt you're referring to as a placket on the back of the shirt is really a yoke. A placket is where buttons and buttonholes are placed. Not a big deal. I understood what you were talking about and that's the idea of communication, right? LOL

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    1. You're absolutely right about communication, Sydney! And thank you for the correction... first, for the facts themselves, and second, for the kind and constructive way you informed me. I had no idea, and so today I've learned something new! :) Thanks again, and thanks for dropping by! Stop by any time. <3 (p.s. Your shirt project sounds amazing!)

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    2. You are so very welcome, and thank you for your gracious reply. I'll definitely be back. In fact, when I find a new (to me) blog that I'm impressed with, I go back to the beginning of the blog and read forward, and I am already into 2008! Can hardly wait to see all your ideas and creations.

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  10. I use the same deconstruction method. I have been going to thrift stores for years to purchase 100% cotton plaid shirts for quilts. It's amazing how many different plaids are out there in the form of men's shirts--the possibilities are endless.

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  11. Using men's dress shirts for making dresses for little girls is so much fun and requires less deconstructing. I love how the little dresses look and the girls LOVE wearing Daddy's shirts.

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I love hearing from you!

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