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Giving New Life to an Old Shirt

Before and after: This old shirt made from a Liberty of London cotton print, left, was given new life with a blue chambray collar and cuffs, right.

I don’t know what it’s like for you, but I have a hard time discarding garments I made myself, even if I rarely wear them. I sewed this dress shirt 10 years ago. It was originally intended for my husband, Michael, and he got a lot of use out of it.

The shirt I had made for my husband years ago from a Liberty of London cotton print eventually ended up in my closet.

Old shirt needed a face-lift

About five years ago, however, Michael decided the colors no longer suited him, so I made room for the shirt in my own closet. The colors didn’t do much for me, either, so it mostly remained unworn. This month I decided that, since I wasn’t willing to part with the old shirt, I would rework it.

The shirt fabric is a cotton lawn by Liberty of London, a design called Pelagia. The fabric was a gift from a blog reader who had purchased an entire bolt on sale and generously sent me 3 yards. I made the shirt with it using vintage McCall’s 6890, View B, which features a rounded collar.

Old shirt pattern: McCall's 6890

Less-than-perfect construction

I had less than a year of sewing under my belt. The shirt came out looking good, but there were problems. My collar-making skills were those of a beginner and it showed: The collar didn’t fit the neckline perfectly, and the collar stand wasn’t symmetrical.

Poorly sewn collar stand on old shirt
It’s obvious on close inspection that the collar stand sticks out roughly 1/4 inch beyond the front placket. Getting the collar to fit the neckline perfectly is a challenge for most sewing beginners. The position of the buttonhole is also slightly off: too close to the edge and not centered properly.

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