Refashion: That Fabulous Striped Shirt

I came across this quote that really spoke to me:

Everything that you make, that’s made by your energy, is partially made out of you. It’s made out of whatever experiences you’ve had. So you can knit little booties and they will be made out of your rage. You can get your rage out of your body by creating something and putting it in a safe place outside of yourself where it could maybe even do someone some good.

Amelia Nagoski

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again here: refashioning helps me channel my rage. I wish I didn’t get rage-y, but it is just a little hormonal side effect of getting older, and at this stage of my life, I don’t need to go around stirring up trouble with my husband or children just because my hormones tell me that they want to pick a fight. So refashioning is a little valve for letting off steam, and this one little trick has done wonders for keeping me sane in my homelife.

In a few weeks on the podcast, we’ll be digging into the topic of Creativity and Craft. I’m always talking about our fabulous Venn Diagrams—the unique way in which the different aspects of our lives overlap in sometimes unexpected ways—this is just an example of the ways in which the circles—in this case, Creativity and Family Life and Mental Health, overlap.

I digress.


It is just a man’s dress shirt, with stripes in that red-violet color I have recently discovered and find to be very much to my liking. Because the stripes are woven and not printed, the “right side” and “wrong side” of the fabric are nearly indistinguishable (ahhh, men’s shirts are so fun to play with!!) I was thinking that stripes could provide for some interesting possibilities if I could make them work for me.

On Pinterest, I have seen all kinds of men’s dress shirt refashions. A current little problem with my sewing machine meant that I would have to go simple, though. Not too many gathers or pleats this go around. (Although I have so many ideas for pleats. Too many ideas.)

So that was when I settled on:

Something like that. There were no instructions, mind you. These were just my inspiration.

In the end, since I knew I wanted to have a bow at the waist and would need fabric from somewhere to make that happen, I would have to sacrifice the sleeves. So I went with the one on the left. Sort of.

First things first:

I cut off the yoke and the sleeves. Easy as pie. Incidentally: nearly as satisfying as pie, too.

I knew from the get-go that in order for this refashion to work, I would need to be wearing the shirt backwards. This would mean that the buttons would go in the back, and the collar would be made of the back of the shirt.

Then I gave the shirt a little bit of a girlish shape on the sides. This was not scientific, just a bit of pinning it while wearing it inside out. The intention wasn’t for it to be fitted, just slightly more girl shaped than the original.

Next, I did the easy things:

I hemmed the top where the yoke was cut off, and then did a serious round of “let’s wing it till we get this right” when it came to which direction to be making the hem on the little folded down collar part. This was equally challenging for the armholes.

My sewing machine’s Gremlins came out while working on this project…You can see here how my machine’s tension issues are making a mess of my projects. I probably will eventually go back and unpick this mess, but for right now, the creative iron is hot. We must strike.

The little shoulder strap is made of the cuff of one sleeve (which hasn’t been well-trimmed yet, either.) For the other shoulder, I simply matched up the front and the back and gave it a little seam.

The sleeves gave a goodly amount of fabric for the bow I wanted for the waist. I would be wise to hem this bow, but I haven’t gotten around to it quite yet. Yes, I wore it in public without hemming the bow. I have no shame.

So then it ended up looking like this:

But obviously, Lily Fields cannot be satisfied with one bow. She must have two. And because those sleeves had so much fabric left, I was able to make another one:

So here is a terrible photo of the back, and an acceptable photo of the front:

Which is how we got from this to that:

And as I said, I have worn it out in public exactly as it is, and it got its fair share of compliments. I mean, it is pretty snazzy.

I am currently stalking my husband’s wardrobe to see if there is anything else he can sacrifice to my creative whims. Unfortunately, he is a fully functional minimalist. So…should anyone have any dress shirts they want to sacrifice, you know where to find me!!!!

Sing With Your Feet is the podcast hosted by refashionista & fair godmother Lily Fields and LiElla Kelly, Death Doula & wicked stepsister. In the podcast, we help you dig up and dust off the treasures you may have buried in your backyard, to help you live your life with fewer regrets, greater passion and a ton more joy. Live like you were dying.

Episode 63: Foresight Sing With Your Feet

This week, we look at how we can love ourselves better by planning ahead.
  1. Episode 63: Foresight
  2. Episode 62: Memory
  3. Episode 61: Novelty
  4. Episode 60: How to Have Great Sex
  5. Episode 59: I Have A Theory

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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