Brooks Brothers Linen Shirt Re-do

I thought I’d continue with yesterday’s topic of remaking textile items by showing you a project I recently finished.  The danger of going to a thrift clearance center where stuff is sold cheaply by the pound is that it is hard to resist things that I can’t wear or that are not collectible, but that are made of great fabric.  This Brooks Brothers shirt, made out of a beautiful indigo linen (contrary to the faded out look of my photo), is a good example.  It was too small for my husband, but I have a hard time leaving indigo linen in any form behind.

So I bought it, and then started looking on the internet under such as “man’s shirt re-do” or “remaking a man’s shirt.”  I got hundreds of results, mainly on Pinterest.  Some were interesting; others were highly entertaining.  In the end I decided to just make it up as I went.

Call me crazy, but I just did not want a result that shouted “recycled old shirt” but at the same time I wanted to use as much of the original construction as possible.  I considered switching the buttons and the buttonholes to the traditional women’s placement, but I liked the placket.  I also left the breast pocket and the back yoke and pleat.  Everything else is new construction.

I like a rounded V-neckline, so I cut off the collar and shaped the neck accordingly.  I made bias strips to bind the neck and the sleeves from the bottom half of the old sleeves.

I narrowed the shoulder and re-cut the sleeves.  I narrowed the body, and re-attached both using French seams.

To finish, I went through my considerable button stash and chose these diamond-shaped ones.  I did consider just leaving the originals, but since I found these I knew they would be such a nice touch.

In theory, I love the idea of remaking and updating clothes.  People have always done this to make their clothes last longer or to outfit younger children with hand-me-downs.   But I’ve seen some disasters made in the name of “up-cycling” where valuable pieces of vintage clothing were destroyed to fit the current aesthetic.   If you are like me and visit a thrift store occasionally, then you know that we are not in danger of running out of textiles anytime soon.  The thrifts are full of the raw materials for a million projects.  Just make sure your raw material does not have a Claire McCardell label.


Filed under Sewing

21 responses to “Brooks Brothers Linen Shirt Re-do

  1. This looks amazing! The buttons really finish it off perfectly and I like how you used red thread to sew them on.
    I had a few vintage dresses in my wardrobe which I wanted to remodel but had a pang if conscience and decided to sell then as I was sure someone would want them as they were intended to be.


  2. Lizzie – That’s so great. I will e-mail you a photo of a shirt remake by a friend.


  3. Beautiful job! And I adore the buttons.


  4. Last summer, I had a great time making my husband a linen shirt, custom-made to him (can you hear my excitement that hasn’t faded?). He requested it, knowing the wonderful characteristics of linen and the value of a custom-made shirt. During the warm August days, he said it felt so cool, as if he didn’t have a shirt on. It breathes and it absorbs lots of moisture. Here’s a great website, for those interested in linen. Also,
    I hope you enjoy your linen shirt, Lizzie. I’m impressed with your remake of a finely-made shirt!


  5. Lynne

    Fabulous remake–and a testament to your great talent for wrangling textiles into fashionable wearables. I tried, but I never won the battles.


  6. I absolutely LOVE what you’ve done to that shirt Lizzie. You look very ‘swish’ (and cute! ;-)) I must say. Lovely touch with the red thread on the buttons too.

    I’d happily wear that blouse with a pair of wide-leg linen trousers in cream or white. Just the thing for keeping cool when the temperature is hot. Uber stylish too! Very good job indeed. 🙂 xx


  7. Love a bit of fabulous re-loving! Xxx


  8. Oh, it’s wonderful! Great to see how you reused so many of the features, but the end result really doesn’t look like a refashioned men’s shirt. The neckline is super–I might just have to copy that sometime.


  9. Teresa

    Such a great remake and it looks perfect for wearing on those hotter days.


  10. Very nice! I particularly like your neckline treatment.


  11. I love your shirt, Lizzie! Remaking thrift store clothes is one of my favorite things, and I especially love men’s wear with its geometric patterns. Here is one of my favorite transformations–a shirt with a lot of stripes:


  12. Yes it was–the only time I have seen that in a men’s shirt. (My husband is a t-shirt guy).


  13. It’s beautiful and I love those buttons. I wish I knew how to redo stuff like that.


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