Thursday, 18 July 2013

Rag Bag Rescue - Blokey Shirt to Birdy Smock

I might easily have called this post 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' as I made so many mistakes in its making, but in the end, I think it turned out okay!

A couple of weeks ago I rescued this man's shirt from the Rag Bag at the charity shop.  It had been consigned there due to its floppy, well-washed status, and a few pesky stains. But it was a nice large size in lovely chambray-type fabric, and I thought would be good for a re-make.

First I made a new pattern - well, actually a familiar pattern in a larger size. This was to be a 110cm size, aimed at a 4-5 year old.  It is from this Japanese book., which is now available, with a different front cover, in English.  (You can buy it on Amazon, but they aren't paying me for a plug!)

I have made loads of these smocks now.  Such a sweet and easy-to-wear design.

First I had to lay my pattern pieces out to see if I could get it all out of the decent parts of the fabric, going with the straight grain.  The front and the top part of the back fitted on the back section...

The two bottom back sections fitted on the front pieces, beneath the large breast pockets.  These pieces were meant to be one, cut on a fold, but I reckoned that a centre back seam was going to be okay.

It was a push to fit the two sleeve sections as the shirt sleeves were made of one wide and one narrow panel, reducing the available width.   It was just do-able though!  

My first mistake was that I had drafted the bottom sleeve section without adding the necessary seam allowances ( I normally add the seam allowances to my paper pattern pieces, otherwise I know I WILL cut something wrong!).  I merrily cut the pieces out before remembering the lack of seam allowance on that one piece!  There was no altenative but to go ahead with making the sleeves slightly shorter and less full than they should have been.

So, with all my pieces cut I stitched away.  The pin-tucks, which I messed up last time and had to press the wrong way and embellish...

...I got right this time!

But then I stitched the back to the front section right side to wrong side, ending up with the tuck on the back instead of the front.  But I decided that I quite liked this as an alternative, so left it.

I used some pretty 'Felicite' from Liberty as the binding and embellished with some weeny polkadot buttons.

My next problem was a hitherto unseen stain, right slap-bang in the middle of the front!  I knew it would be noticeable where it was.  There was nothing to be done but to find a decorative way to cover it up!

A bit more 'Felicite' and the design I used in my recent ATC swap...

...and the front acquired a trio of swooping birds!

Sleeve edges, hem and neckline were all 'Felicite' bound.  The button loop too...



  1. There will be a lot of men's shirts mysteriously disappearing now! Eco Ethel xx

  2. Definitely! How creative and this is gorgeous! I love the feel of old shorts, so soft and the faded colour is gentle. Minerva ~

  3. It is LOVELY!! I would stick to the bird-applications if I were you. They make the design even more playfull.
    I saw some other dress-shirt to little girl's dresses idea's here:
    In case you would like a different design next time. (by no means necessary to my opinion ;-) ]

  4. Too sweet, what lucky little girl is getting this?

  5. Absolutely delightful, Alix! You are so clever. What a transformation from the original shirt, upcycling at it's best!


  6. You are woo clever, it is just gorgeous......yep grown up ones next :) xxxx

  7. It really is " Ta Dah " at the end of your rag bag rescue posts which I love.
    What a delightful smock.

  8. Brilliant, you really are incredibly talented. It's not just the sewing ability, but having the vision to see the shirt and imagine what you can do to it. Fabulous. Jx

  9. Oh my it's adorable, you are so clever Alix. Does it come in big girl sizes? ~ Sarah x

  10. Stunning! So beautiful! And, by the way, your catalogue of errors sounds dreadfully like mine! xxx

  11. What a cute blouse. It would even be cute without the sleeves as a summer top!