Giving Old Clothes New Life

Made by kibowman

How can we give old clothes a new life? This project explores how to modify mens shirts into new styles.

Created: March 12th, 2018



I was very interested in the idea behind reviving old clothes instead of throwing them out. After I came across a book documenting some interesting ideas for modifying clothes like ties, mens shirts, and scarves, I was especially inspired by a particular "pattern" for modifying oversized button ups. I found some unwanted shirts at goodwill and embarked on a project to breathe new life into them!



Most of my sewing process was derived from the pattern found in a book, shown below. However, the pattern was meant for one size, and included proportions rather than a cut out pattern. Therefore, I modified the lengths of cuts and amount of darts and pleats to better fit someone my size. In addition, I did not have elastic, so instead of threading elastic through the back or sleeves, I chose some alternatives.

I kept the sleeves loose and ungathered, and used a series of pleats and sections of another shirt to fit the back side of the shirt.


After deciding what I wanted to make, I made a quick visit to goodwill, which happens to have aisles and aisles of untouched oversized mens shirt. I chose the two below for their pattern, size, and color. I tried both shirts on and marked with pencil where the darts should be for the best fit, mostly through trial and error! I determined that if the back section was 15'' wide and the front section taken in by 3'' the shirt fit the best. I also marked the sleeve length I wanted. I was very careful to make marks perfectly symmetrical via use of a tape measurer.


Next, I began sewing. Sadly, though I did manage to get my hands on a sewing machine after break began, it had some major tension problems with the upper thread, and was unable to sew a straight line. This means that I had to hand sew all of this shirt, which is not ideal because it is a weaker and less straight stitch. I used a running stitch for almost all seams except for a few inner seams, where I used whip stitch. The fact that I was using a lot of the shirts' original construction was a big help!


Reflection on Project Proposal

In the process of creating this shirt, I used the following concepts learned in class:

- Darting/Pleating

- Hand Stitching

I also explored the 

I am satisfied with how the front of the garment turned out in look and fit, but think I could have improved on the fit of the back. Some of the darts and pleats bunch incorrectly while wearing, and the length of the back is not visually ideal.



The final product is shown below. I included photos of the front, back, and some of the stitching detail.


Sample Book

My sample book is shown below.

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How can we give old clothes a new life? This project explores how to modify mens shirts into new styles.