Linen Shirt Make-over

jenjoycedesign©linen shirt makeoverMy love of linen has grown deeper with time. Its rustic wholesome weave holds my appreciation like no other textile. The warm shades of grey form layers in the seams, and when held in front of angled light from the late or early sun, it is simply beautiful. Just to see it that way I am able to almost smell its fragrance, as if the presence remains of that field of flax from which it was born, and it my skin longs to be against it.

So, I made another shirt for myself, new out of old.
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Making new clothes out of old is one of those things which I absolutely love to do but takes a bit of skill.  Pardon the wrinkly shirt photo, but that is actually the way I prefer it, not ironed too much, just a little, for linen has such personality with a little texture showing.  Months ago I bought a linen shirt from the thrift shop and I was wearing it around like a tent recently, and yesterday I finally cut into it.  Now it is more of my style, it has personality, it is natural, totally unique, and has a feminine classic charm. There was plenty needle threading and hand-sewing, which I adore actually, and the machine work was plenty too.

Here’s what I did:  I first ripped off the breast pocket, then cut out the big bulky button bands and collar. Then I cut off some off of the length which gave me enough fabric to sew in a ‘gusset’ to bridge the two fronts in the absence of the button band.  I cut off the cuffs and cuff button placket, completely, which left sleeves a little short.
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From two sleeves I had cut before off of another linen shirt in my pile of linen scraps, I made simple wide folded faced bands to extend into a sort of cuff, and pleated the excess sleeve material to fit… a fast & easy way to go… and looks great rolled up. Usually I just hem the neck opening without a collar, but this time I had envisioned a peter-pan collar, so I set into making a collar custom to the cut-out neck, with the other linen sleeve in the scrap pile, and with the help of this book, published 1930’s….


Finished, and excited to get involved in a very summertime project for the hot weather, and that is making new out of old, re-making every possible tent-like mens’ linen shirt I possibly can get a hold of , and immerse myself in the metamorphosis of them into artful beautiful shirts for *moi*. My wardrobe is anorexic, but is on the mend, and I’m absolutely loving my needlework, on a quiet mountain, punctuated by very little else, which suits me just fine.

I’m ready to go at it with another!

Finding Fair Isle

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My sister-in-law Patricia and I met for our usual cheery birthdays date at the coffee roastery in the tiny north Napa Valley town of  St Helena. We enjoyed delicious cafe cremes (lattes) in a bowl with pastries, then a short stroll down the old town road to our favorite tiny thrift shop behind the Catholic church. I usually do not find a single thing, yet when I look back, some of the best finds I’ve made were there. Today was one of those rare days when I did, and as I was doing my fast size-up of the racks, expecting nothing, something shyly captured my eye, as a busy patterned woolly thing was in the vests. With a closer look I found ~~ it was hand-made!

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It has that particular thickness, a substantial feel in one’s hands which can not be mistaken for anything but long-labored handwork of some expert knitter. Need I even mention (no, I shouldn’t have to) there are no labels nor store bought sort of tags saying ‘made in Shetland’ anywhere on it. It is completely hand-made, and slowly and surely realized this but not until I inspected it quite closely. There was never any doubt really, that there probably exists in St Helena a genuine and maybe even extreme Fair Isle knitter (perhaps the same knitter who donated the two skeins of Harrisville Designs Shetland yarn I got for $1 each months ago, another rare great find.)  I suspected, but I am certain now such a knitter exists in St Helena!

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I felt the fabric, and it seemed a little too soft & smooth to be Shetland wool, yet, after examining for quite a while I realized in all of it’s years of being worn, it very likely is Shetland wool,  though met the dreary fate of becoming washed in the washer and dried in the dryer, shrunk hopelessly, and thus it became of no use to the owner, or why else would such a prize be donated to this little thrift shop?  Even if not Shetland wool, and though only barely felted, and that would explain for the unusually soft feel.,  very fuzzy & ‘pilly’ and worn a lot (hopefully). I knew that I must must SIMPLY MUST take it home, even if just to have it.  One single dim thought occurred to me, that there was a glaring possibility that it would NOT fit me.

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Just look at the classic “OXO” border and little “oxo” peerie motifs, and very artful colorway of a charcoal grey background with rich blues and a signature center round of bright bright green.  And, of course,  the very signature steek work….

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However, when I got home I measured the bust and thought I couldn’t wear it, I thought no way.  But miracle of miracles, I did manage to slip it on!   Only barely. Perhaps after a time of calorie deprivation or since that is not likely,  extreme hiking (a little more likely), that after a few pounds lost, I could indeed wear this Fair Isle Vest with a little room to breath. Even so, tight or eventually looser, I’ve thought wouldn’t it be nifty for this vest to be my ‘cold days hiking vest’ accompanying me as Emma and I haul over hill & dale, bringing Fair Isle beauty along the many steps from my door to the peak & beyond.

Even if I don’t,  I am happy just to have it~~~  and only cost  three dollars!  It made my day!

Refashioned

jenjoycedesign©linen-shirt-upcycle-back I took a big men’s blue check linen shirt I found at Goodwill Thrift shop a few months ago, for a couple of dollars, and this morning reconstructed it into a pretty shirt with details I have done so much I call them ‘signature’. I took my time before I cut with scissors because I really put a lot of thought into the details I wanted.

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Such as the cut off cuff hemmed with sleeve placket and then a button for show.

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This time I took some of the length cut off from the shirt and made a little detail sewn over pleats. (oops, I forgot to photograph the before photo), then added buttons.  I love it !

jenjoycedesign©linen-shirt-upcycle-detail (1) I also separated the felled seam at the bottom edge and rather hurriedly made a make-shift after-thought side seam placket, and decided to make the front shorter.

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Also I sewed the button placket down because I hate gaping button plackets on shirts. Voila ! Refashioned 100% linen summer shirt ! For two dollars !!! Did I already mention that I love it?

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A Week of Thrifty Finds

Scavenging thrift shops could be a part-time job I’d take on willingly, but I’m trying to limit my habit of doing so. Last Monday I found an antique gate-leg drop-leaf  work table, and today I scored even more items for my project-craft space ~ an upstairs open room which I call my loft .  Mostly I found old wooden cigar boxes for 50cents each,  but one box in particular is a nifty sliding-top box originally for a micrometer, but has been filled with old carpenter pencils and crayons (and sold that way…all for 50cents) ~ this I intend to give a special home in our new workshop Jeff has been building (and which just had the final building inspection in December). As for the stack of cigar boxes, I will fill them with buttons, notions & threads, and just gadgets to do with knitting, sewing, and needlework of all kinds. I frequent many thrift shops, but one in particular I keep finding old antique wooden hangers at 25cents each,many with logos of cleaner & dyers printed on them ~posted back here , a whole pile of them I’ve been collecting over the years.  Sometimes, as today, I have to cut off the handwork padding to get to the bare hanger, and I’m proud to say these hangers are perfect for the many shirts I’ve made hanging in the closet.  This one time I managed to leave behind all but one of the needlework and craft books.  So there’s my stack of finds from today, which I can’t wait to bring into my workspace and find purpose for each.