Posts Tagged ‘altered clothing’

Another very simple example of a men’s shirt being merged with a skirt to make a plus sized casual dress. The starting shirt was a 2X and short sleeved. (I typically only go for long sleeves but I liked the colours of this one enough to take it even without them) The skirt was a medium ladies in a light cotton and was very flared so there was plenty of fabric for me to work with.brownprint2

I’d had other altering plans for the shirt but when I found the skirt, they were such a perfect match that I had to just go with combining them.

The shirt was already a good fit for me so the side seams were just opened from below the waist and triangles of the skirt fabric were added. The bottom edge was also cut to a straight line. I like a knee length dress for over leggings so the skirt was cut off about 18” from the bottom hem, which gave enough running length for the widened shirt. As is typical for these pieces, the bottom edge of the shirt was folded under and the top edge of the skirt set behind so they could be joined and finished with a single straight seam.

I was lucky to have a set of vintage fibre optic buttons in the stash that were the exact red tones of both parts so they really pulled it all together and dressed it up at the same time!

Read Full Post »

My next leather jacket alter was a concept that I’d had kicking around in my brain for a couple of years. A Steampunk punk jacket. A perfectly sized antique Ontario flag gave me my theme which was “Canada”. (this was also finished right before the 150 birthday celebrations)steamjacket2

I started with a dark brown men’s jacket that had a very traditional cut. The flag covered the top of the back and the official motto in Latin was painted below. I’d planned to go with full Victorian style painted font but I loved how the freehand guide layer looked so just left it.

A pair of epaulettes were made with a slightly darker faux leather, brass gears and bits and then fringing to match the period military style and were added to the shoulders.steamjacket3

The right breast was covered in a bunch of gold metal fleurs-de-lis. A large red maple leaf was painted below. The left side has a collection of small patches and metal pieces. (including a penny button) More pieces are on the collar and arms.steamjacket4

I shaped it slightly at the waist to give it more of a period look and added a simple leather belt with a brass buckle. The buttons were replaced with a mix of brass Canadian military ones.

A bit of distressing and painted “dirt” gave it some more character and finished it off.

Read Full Post »

My very first altered jacket had found a home and I was ready to get started on more. The second was straightforward because it was very much a copy of the first. The base jacket in this case was a bomber style in a lovely brown leather that already had a some nice, genuine wear. It was also a men’s XL which I loved, since it gave a bigger range of people who can wear it. (I’ve also found that some of the nicer “geek” clothing often isn’t made into the plus sizes so I specifically wanted to have that be an option)


The official Firefly embroidered patch set that had started the whole concept had all 4 of Wash’s flight suit patches. I’d used 2 on the first jacket and that left another pair. In all cases, I placed the patches as close to screen accurate as I could and then added in several other vintage ones that I thought suited the design. For this, the second version, one official patch went below the right shoulder and the second partway down the left arm.

This jacket again, had the Blue Sun logo on the back and left breast. Rather than going for another patch right below the “Wash” one on the right sleeve, a version of the Browncoat insignia was painted along the forearm.


I made up rank pieces for the shoulders and distressed some funky little metal pieces to make additional ones for the collar. The shoulder ones were I think salvaged from vintage furniture, they already had worn paint over their metal, and then silk ribbon was added to make colour details. The collar tabs were some earrings that I roughed up a bit with sandpaper and then let sit in vinegar and salt for a few days. This dulled the shine and gave some nice rust detail.


The existing wear meant less work on distressing but I still added some cuts, “bullet” holes and “energy weapon” damage. All were patched in different ways and using different fills for the holes so it was consistent with long term wear and repair. Lastly, it was also “dirtied” up and then sealed so it could be worn as a regular coat.

Read Full Post »

I’ve loved the few men’s plaid shirts that I’ve altered to fit my plus-sized self, and could always use more as tops during the colder months, so here is another that didn’t become a dress!


The base shirt was pretty plain, so it got hit with a bleach ombre. In this case, it reacted strongly to the bleach so the fade is not very gradual and there isn’t much of a different colour showing up on the bleach edge.

The pale cream tones of the faded sections tied nicely to some of the Stratford Festival scraps that had a soft linen look with a matching blue. For simplicity, the sleeves were cut off at the elbows and strips of the scraps were attached as cuffs. The upper arms and top of the shirt were a good fit, so the side seams were only opened to below the arms and large, long triangles added in to widen the bottom.


The only other thing was that the buttons were replaced with slightly more interesting black and cream ones. That’s it! a simple few alters and it was ready to go.

Read Full Post »

A while ago, I decided I wanted to combine a number of different techniques, as well as trying some new ones, and attempted to alter a leather jacket. I like to both have a general concept for any new type of project and it helps if there is a specific item to lead the way. In this case, it was a set of official, embroidered patches that were copies of the ones on the flight suit of Wash, the spaceship pilot in the series “Firefly”. The set was perfect for someone who wanted to do a totally accurate cosplay copy of the flight suit but I knew I would never use them that way. Rather than just keep them as a collectible, I wanted to use them to make a real, wearable leather jacket, into something that could be used for regular wear, but still would work as part of a costume.


The concept was that it would be the jacket of someone who went through some of the same pilot training as Wash, but had gone their own way. They had worked for the Blue Sun corp at some point, and this was possibly a company issued coat that they had altered, so it had their logo on the back and left breast. The show had a limited run, and a great range of costume options that I felt pretty free to make things up since there was so much that was never shown. Rank insignia was done using metal scraps and silk ribbons. Instead of an official style patch, the Browncoat logo was painted on the left arm. “Energy weapon” damage was added by carefully burning cuts in the leather and then patching it with scraps and in some cases, metal wire. A bullet hole was added and the whole thing was then distressed and dirtied up.



I’ve seen a number of post-apocalyptic jacket distressors who will do things like drag coats behind cars and run over them, which is one way to go, I suppose. I’ve found that careful use of various roughness’s of sandpaper and acetone do the same job. Then some layers of “dirt” and “dust” are applied and sealed to finish the “I was a rebel solider on a desert moon and survived” look.


I was really happy with the finished look, but as always, it was a learning experience which I carried over to later jackets!

Read Full Post »

Another men’s shirt refashion! This is very similar to my last plus-sized shirt dress. Again, the base was a fairly plain man’s shirt. It was a 2X so the fit on the top of the arms and across the chest was fine but I wanted to open it up around the hips.


The shirt was so plain that I decided to use one of the more dramatic fabrics in the stash. There was a very nice chunk of a silky polyester with a vibrant paisley print in the Stratford Festival scraps. The pieces of it were big enough for me to make a couple of large wedges that were inserted in the sides to widen the shirt. The sleeves were cut off at elbow length and the cuffs were salvaged. I added them back on to the bottom of the sleeves and small scraps of the bright paisley accent the rest of the cuff space. One more piece was used to make a heart to decorate the front pocket.


To make the skirt part of the dress, a small textured skirt was removed from it’s waistband. It’s seams were opened up and made into 3 pieces. It was too small to fit the full run of the expanded bottom. To fill in, the lining fabric was cut into two pieces and lightly gathered. It was sewn along the bottom of the inserts then sewn in line with fancier pieces on the shirt sections.  The shirt was cut to a straight line and folded under with the bottom fabric set behind it before running the seam. This gives a nice finished look to it.


The last thing was to change out the buttons. I went with a set in dark burgundy that matched the colours in the accent fabric. It’s really surprising to me how much of a difference in the final feel, changing to dressier buttons makes!

Read Full Post »

This was a slightly different take for me on the shirt dress. The base shirt was quite plain, but excellent fabric. It had thin blue and green stripes on a white background. The green in it was a good match to a floral cotton I had salvaged from an 80’s dress. (it was one of those Laura Ashley style fabrics in a prom-dress style, so very dated)


The shirt had a decent fit on the top of the sleeves but was tight around the hips. I decided to stay simple and just cut the sleeves off at elbow length. I didn’t bother to salvage the cuffs but finished the sleeves with a trim band of the floral.


The side seams were cut away right up to under the armpit. Large triangles of the floral fabric were inserted to open it up on the hips. The bottom of the shirt was cut to a straight line and a wide, ungathered, band of the floral was added on to take it to a dress length. It was attached with a basic straight seam.


Keeping with the simple design, I removed the top of the collar and just reclosed the top to make a mandarin style collar. I then swapped in a set of bright green buttons and they help to dress it up.

The finished piece is clean-looking and comfortable while still being cute and professional.

Read Full Post »

This was one of my more fun shirt alters. The base was a men’s green plaid shirt. Not having much of an overall plan for it, I started with the basic bleach ombre fade on it and it turned out to go very orange along the fade edges. I’ve found that I prefer to get the bleaching done before investing too much time on the rest of the design since I’m not so good at predicting what colour the fades will be. It works better for me to wait to choose accent fabrics until I see the bleach results.


This was a fairly small shirt so the sleeves were cut to elbow length and the side seams fully cut out, all the way along the bottom of the remaining sleeves. As my usual, the cut-off forearms were salvaged and used to widen the tops of the kept sleeves.

A while ago, the Stratford Festival cleared out a ton of their fabric scraps by donating to our local thrift store. They sold them in random mixed bags and we brought a bunch home. These were true scraps so in most cases there is very little of each one. Not enough for making anything like a full blouse or anything, but many are workable sizes for use in altered pieces and are beautiful, high quality materials. From this collection, I pulled an assortment of the orange fabrics and narrowed it down to a coordinating plaid and a slightly stretchy synthetic velvet. The plaid had both some small scraps and a good length of bias cut strip. The strips were perfect for edging the sleeves so I went with that instead of putting the cuffs back on like usual.


The velvet had pieces that were not only big enough to work as inserts in the sides but I could also cut them so the selvage edge was along the bottom. I liked the look, and it saved me a ton of fussing with hemming but I know it doesn’t work for everyone.



The pops of bright orange reminded me of the Star Wars rebel clothing so I decided to run with it. A rectangular plaid panel was added to the back with “Rebel” roughly written on it. (I didn’t have enough space for “Rebel Scum”, which would have been better) I also cut out a rebel symbol out of the the same fabric and hand appliqued it to the right pocket. The last detail was to swap the buttons to a set with a silver-toned metal center in a clouded acrylic circle. They really stepped up the custom “sci-fi” feel of the shirt.


This is one of my personal favorites so far. It’s very comfortable and the high quality of the fabrics means it has held up perfectly through all sorts of wash and wear. I also really like having a casual way to wear one of my big fandoms!


Read Full Post »

Men’s plaid shirts are so comfortable that I love making them into dresses. I had one that was red and grey that was such a great match to a soft, light sweater that I had to try combining them. Both were too small for me but I thought I’d be able to make them into something my size. The sweater was quite small, but a soft, fine cashmere mix.

In my usual fashion, the long sleeves were cut off to elbow length and the sides seams were also cut away, all the way to the end of the bottom of the sleeves. The sleeves were widened by inserting part of the removed forearms. The cuffs were reattached to the bottoms of the sleeves and the rest of the sleeve finished with a rolled hem.


To widen the sides, panels were inserted from the sweater. They were cut from the upper sections of the front and back and folded over to join them to the bottom falls. I do not have an over-locking sewing machine, so had no way to do that style of sewn seams for knits. I got around this by using the existing cuffed edges of the sweater along the bottom of the dress. The front and back lower panels and the sleeves gave me enough in total to almost fill the new size. The last leftover bits of the shirt sleeves were used to fill in the rest and add detail to the front.


While this dress is very soft, warm and cosy, the pull of the soft gathers of the sweater cuffs, along the bottom, and the cuff details in the front don’t look great when worn. In the end, I sewed the front edges closed and this is now one of my mothers favourite nightgowns. I haven’t done much more with incorporating sweaters after this piece.

Read Full Post »

After having had success with using a salvaged skirt and men’s shirt to make a plus-sized dress, I started making more. They were very comfortable and I liked how it was possible to keep them more casual or dress them up, depending on the base parts used. This was one of the more casual ones I’ve done so far. The base shirt was a brown plaid and was Abercrombie and Fitch. (I used it because I really liked the plaid fabric but it gives me a special joy to be a fat woman in one of their pieces since it bothers their fat-phobic CEO) A light cotton embroidered skirt was a perfect colour match so I used it, even though it was almost too small to work.(there were a couple of cheats I used to squeak by with it)


A and F runs small on their sizing (shocking, I know) so even with it being a large, the men’s shirt was too small in the arms but at least it was long-sleeved. The arms were cut to elbow length and then the side seams cut out, including down what was left of the arms. The leftover sleeve pieces were attached to the bottom of the arms to widen them and the cuffs attached at the bottom, along with a bit a rolled hem to finish.


The skirt was so small that I wasn’t able to take any length for the side inserts. It was however lined with a light cotton in the same colour. Since the dress would be worn over leggings, keeping the lining wasn’t necessary so it was removed and I used it for the side widening panels.


The skirt had most of it’s embroidery detailing along the bottom and I only wanted to add about 8” of length so was able to use the most interesting part of the skirt. There was a minor problem in that the run of the shirt bottom came in a bit shorter than the enlarged bottom of the shirt. I didn’t want to shorten the bottom to get more fabric, and even if I had been willing, it wasn’t gathered enough that I’d be able to make the shortfall anyway. Luckily, the leftover top section was also just over 8” long and there was one section that had the embroidered flowers over it so I was able to get the needed 16” or so from it. The original bottom hem was a simple rolled one so duplicating it on the added section was easy too!

The shirt already had great contrasting white buttons, so in this case I left them.

The light-weight fabrics make this dress very comfortable in warm weather. It has a casual vibe but is dressy enough that it’s fine for wearing when I’m helping people in the gallery. (I also used some of the scraps to make a cute, co-ordinate bow hair clip)


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: