shirt dress from shirts

I never got around to posting this dress.  I suppose I didn’t want to spoil it since it appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Altered Couture, but in truth, I simply forgot about it.  A mish mash of patterns and colors, this shirt dress from shirts was a fun project to play with color.   While this isn’t my coffee dress for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I wanted to share it today.  It’s a good example of a style choice for your casual coffee dress for the challenge.

shirt dress from shirts
my article 🙂

Shirt Dress from Shirts


Pattern–My Image 1662 Ottobre 5-2007-15 pattern hack

shirt dress from shirts
MyImage shirt dress on the right

When I started my 2017 Make Nine, I had high hopes for this My Image pattern.  I really like the long tunic, and the sleeve tabs are a nice feature.  Rolling up the sleeves and then keeping them secure is so nice when you’re washing dishes or cooking.

This pattern never made it out of the gate though.  After tracing it, I thought it looked suspiciously large even though I graded it down to my size.  It was comically large.  I was left with an armscye that stood out 4″ from my armpit and was equally as big around.  To alter it to fix it would not have been worth my time at all.

Instead, I grabbed the style lines and added them to Ottobre 5-2007-15.  I opted for different pockets but kept the cuffs, sleeve hem of the MyImage.  The Ottobre top is the long version of #2 from that same issue which is my button-down TNT.  I’ve made the shortened version many times.  The long version appears here too with pleated trim.

Shirt surgery

shirt dress from shirts


I’ve always loved the plaid shirt that went into this project.  My husband rarely wears button down shirts, so they’re always fair game for refashioning.  To the plaid shirt, I added a pale aqua linen shirt I had thrifted.

shirt dress from shirts


I had a sketch where I alternated the patterns in quadrants all the way around the dress.  This required me to add a waist seam which I centered over my natural waist.

There’s also a back yoke I added and the little sleeve tabs.

shirt dress from shirts


Challenges with upcycling fabrics

One of the challenges of reclaiming fabric from old garments is having to work with limited yardage.  Sometimes you can cut things creatively, but probably somewhere or another, you’re going to come up short in a lot of cases.  In this case, I wanted to reuse the front button plackets to save myself a little work and because I had to because of the lack of yardage.  This was well and good for the plaid side of the placket, but I didn’t quite have enough for any other pieces of the placket.

Thankfully, I had a abstract dot linen that matched the aqua linen perfectly both in weight and color.  Well, the color is not surprising since a large portion of my stash is populated with greens and aquas very similar to these.  To say it’s my favorite color family is an understatement.

shirt dress from shirts


I carried the dot to the sleeve tabs and one of the front pockets and the collar stand.  Instead of using the pattern piece for the front pockets, I used copied the original front pocket for the second front pocket.

Dress blockprint

When I got everything sewn up, I thought that the plain linen was a little too plain against the plaid.  I couldn’t help myself in adding a little blockprinting to these areas.  It’s a little bit of whimsy to add a dress print to a shirt dress.  I used a commercial rubber stamp that I had.  The ink was applied with a brayer.

shirt dress from shirts


I love printing on projects after I’ve made them.  When you print yardage, you have to make a lot of impressions.  Printing projects after the fact lets you put the designs exactly where you want them but also saves yourself some labor.

Casual dress for coffee

This is not my coffee dress for The Day and Night Dress Challenge.  That being said, a simple shirt dress like this is a great choice for a casual dress you might wear out for coffee.  My actual plans for my coffee dress are below.

How is your planning coming for The Day and Night Dress Challenge?

Would you like to take part in The Day and Night Dress Challenge?  Here’s how to join the fun:

  1. Sew some dresses!
  2. Let other people know about it.  Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
  3. Keep reading here to find out the latest.  Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
  4. Post a picture of your day look (coffee) and your night look (cocktail) to Instagram to enter yourself.  Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
  5. Grab a graphic and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram:                          The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018




Elizabeth is a self-taught sewist with a love for all things DIY and creative. Her friend calls her "The Fabric Manipulator" and she's always looking for ways to squeeze the most out of her sewing time in between caring for her 4 kids and husband.


  1. These really are ‘your’ colours Elizabeth! What a great shirt dress. I love the pattern mixing and blocking detail. Also the highline seam is very flattering. My day dress will be in a knit fabric. I have nearly all supplies ready and the PDF printed off. Just need to start!

    • Thanks Diane! I do love these colors so! I just downloaded my PDF last night. I’ve got a dress to make for my 6′ tall friend, and then I can get cracking! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  2. I love seeing these projects! When the refashioning challenge comes out I hungrily wait for the posts 🙂 Your dress is fabulous and exactly what you’ll wear a lot I’m sure. That is the advantage of having a “colour palette” – it means most of your stash should work together pretty well! 🙂

    • Thank you Kathleen! Now I know: Kathleen + refashioning = joy! You’re so right about a color palette. It definitely makes for fewer wardrobe orphans and more fabric mixing possibilities!

  3. I agree with Kathleen that it’s an advantage to have your personal colour palette that you feel good about and that works for mixing and matching for sewing or a capsule wardrobe. Shirts are a great for refashioning because you can find them easily in charity shops and they generally have a similar weave, weight and colour tones. Then they are pretty much standard so once pattern developed you can always source more shirts for a new project 🙂 I like browsing in second hand shops, especially the ones that have a mix some vintage items and look at how they are made. I can spend hours just studying these 🙂 as you say, not everything can work for refashioning because of yardage but I do also look at the larger sizes with this in mind. The shirt looks really cute on you 🙂

    • I so agree with all of this Anastasia! You learn so much by looking at how RTW garments are made. Men’s shirts are so wonderful for refashioning. It’s not always easy to find good quality shirting fabric, but you can always find really nice men’s shirts for very little money. Plus men’s shirts don’t have the shaping that we do in our shirts, so the yardage is more or less uninterrupted. I like to think that there’s items that fall under the category of thrift store gold, and men’s shirts are under that umbrella!

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