Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday: Deconstructing a man's cotton dress shirt for it's fabric!

Hi peeps!

So I thought I would show you how I take apart a men's dress shirt for the purpose of using the fabric for quilting. I like using X-L or Large-sized long-sleeved 100% cotton men's shirts as you get the most useable fabric out of them.

Here we go! 

Pick up a men's dress shirt from your local thrift store, or even your husband's closet-just make sure it's one he doesn't wear anymore! I get mine at Value Village, usually when they have a half price sale. Give it a good wash and dry. You'll be tempted to iron it, but I have found it easier to just start cutting as-is, then give the fabric pieces a nice press afterwards.

Start by cutting the collar(with collar-yoke attached), cuffs and button plackets off. 

Cut off all the sewn edges of the cuffs and collar, removing the collar yoke at this time. I save all the buttons of the shirt and safety pin them together(bottom left of photo).


Turn the entire shirt inside out and remove the sleeves by cutting them away just below the  shoulder seam line. Cut out the button placket too(as above) and add the buttons to the safety pin you have already started for this shirt.


Next, cut the shirt-back away from the shirt-fronts at the shoulders, again cutting just before the seam allowance. Cut the yoke off of the top of the back piece, then cut around the edges of the yoke to separate it into two pieces.

Edited to add: I usually trim the bottom hems off at this step.

If one of the shirt-fronts has a pocket, cut that front section right across the middle side to side, just under the pocket. Then cut around the three sides of the pocket(left, right and bottom), just inside the seam. You can see the two pocket pieces and cut-aways above left.

Or, you could save the pocket for another project such as; using it when you construct a tooth-fairy pillow or, hand-sew the pocket to your quilt back, after you have finished quilting it. Then you can store a few pieces of the fabrics that you used in the quilt for mending it if it gets damaged or worn. Just make sure you leave yourself a nice seam allowance(before cutting) so that you will be able to sew the pocket into your item and to sew the little pocket full of fabric shut if it is stitched to the back of a quilt.

Here you can see the skinny strips above left (from the cuffs and collar), as well as the two yoke pieces and both front sections. I have ironed all pieces at this point, except for the button areas. The skinny pieces will go into my tub for string quilts, and I will probably cut the larger pieces into my favourite sizes( 2" sq, 2.5" sq, 4.5" sq and 5" sq charms).

Here are the back(folded) and sleeves(folded). The sleeves are great for cutting 2'5" strips and they will go into my strips tub. It always surprises me how much fabric is in a sleeve! I will leave the back as-is, as it is quite a large piece of fabric. This one measures 24" by 27" at it's widest points.

This is perfect TV work. I will grab my handy little seam ripper and release the buttons from the plackets, then I will store them on that same safety pin, in my button jar. The label is easy enough to remove with same ripper. Then, to camouflage the stitch holes where the label was, I just run the tip of my seam ripper gently across them. You will see the stitch holes 'magically' disappear.

This little pile is ALL that is left over. Pretty cool, eh?

I got started on the table runner I mentioned in this post

I finally got my Frixion pen to work. The little metal ball at the tip of the pen was stuck, so I got some rough, heavy-duty paper(that had some 'tooth' to it) and just scribbled away till the roller ball started working. Oh, duh!!!

I was having so much fun(not!) drawing the sewing lines on my pairs of squares that I went overboard(didn't pre-read the pattern…) and traced out the sewing lines on ALL of the squares. Double-duh!!! But it is with the Frixion ink and the marks will just iron away.

Then, over to my chair, watching TV, I used my 'special' pins(they are very short and very sharp and I keep them for when I am working on batiks only) and just pinned near my starting and ending lines. Now I am ready to shoot them through the sewing machine.

I found a new-to me magasine at the grocery store today. It is called Make it Vintage, and has loads of ideas for changing up old or thrifted items and making them your own. There was another magasine that was similar, called Vintage Style, but it was a lot more than I am willing to spend on a magasine…so I just had a quick look through it!

Question of the Day:

Have you bought, or looked through a new-to-you magasine lately? and, if so, which one was it?
Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Quilty Huggs,



  1. Great de-boning instructions. Being a Bonnie Hunter follower I do it often, and get such unique colors.

    1. Thanks! Yea, I know, there are so many neat patterns available for men's shirts…and cheaper too!

  2. I do the same thing with vintage mens suit jackets. I make bears out of them. I would like to share a simular tutorial with my followers if it is aright with you and link back to you if it is ok. The new to me magazine I have found is the.... Crazy Quilt Quarterly Magazine Spring 2015 By Pamela Kellogg. Waiting to hear from you.

    1. Hi Tonia…yes, please do share. That is a great idea for making bears out of suits! I have this funky cat pattern I have been wanting to make for AGES…but need something tweedy. I live out in the boonies and have no fabric stores nearby. I can get to Value Village easily by bus, so will definitely check out the men's and women's suits the next half=price sale! Thanks for the tip!

  3. Great tutorial for deconstruction! There are so many neat fabrics from existing clothing which can be used for quilting.

  4. Thanks!
    I so agree, there are so many prints to choose from! I have recently begun collecting vintage sheets as some of the prints are quite lovely. Yep, another thing to be collecting! Ha ha ha

  5. Mens large cotton shirts are so useful and I'm always thrilled when I find one in good condition. I have a few deconstructed now, just waiting to be made into something new. A great post showing how to get the most fabric from a shirt.

    1. Hi there Pam,
      Thanks so much!!! I really appreciate that you featured me in your post today!
      I have added your button to my right sidebar. I am so excited!!!

    2. Hi Jacqueline, Just letting you know I featured your post in a roundup of upcycling shirt projects. I've also taken the liberty of adding it to our newest linky - Reusing Shirts and Ties. Hope that's OK.

  6. It's amazing how much fabrics you can get from a man's shirt! Thanks for showing how to get the most out of them.

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Hi there,
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, you make my day! Kind comments are always welcomed and appreciated. While I do read each and every comment, I may not always be able to reply.