Monday, 23 April 2012

Don't get Shirty!

My blog posts have been lacking the last few weeks.  This is due to moving home and trying to sort out the chaos.  One of the things required was that hubby thin down his clothing, or there would be no room for any of mine in the fitted wardrobes.  At the last count he had well over a hundred shirts.  Ridiculous.  Under strict instructions to free up half the wardrobe space for me, he set to with bin bags, to turf some out for the charity shops.

With a large selection of shirts ousted, I started looking at the fabrics and wondered if I could make use of them myself.  There's a surprising amount of fabric in a mans shirt, particularly an XL one.
After cherry picking the ones that were all cotton and nice fabrics, I sat down and scratched my head for inspiration.

My first of two makes is this pillow.  When I began I had no real vision of what it was going to look like.  I just knew that I wanted to use some of the front pockets, and make a feature of a cuff or two.

After a quick draft on paper, this was the result.  The finished pillow size is 19 inches.  Until it was finished and I popped it on the sofa in the lounge, it hadn't occurred to me that I had inadvertently made a receptacle to hold some of the multitude of remote controls we have.  (I am married to Gadget Man).

I really like how this has turned out.  I love the combination of the blues with the touches of white and sage green.  It's even given me inspiration for how I want to decorate the room - I'm thinking one graphite grey feature wall which will display all my pictures.  A denim blue wall, and a bit of wood panelling which will be painted an eu-de-nil colour.  It works in theory after collecting some paint-chip cards!

For the pocket patches I simply cut around to make 6 inch squares.  I machined two cuffs onto contrasting squares of fabric before joining together.  One had a particularly fancy lining to the inside of the cuff, so I turned that back before stitching down.

In order to square up the cushion I was left with a few odd sizes.  By now up-cycling had me firmly in it's grasp, and I was loathe to waste anything.  So I simply cut the buttoned section off the shirts and added as thin panels.  There's one going across the width of the top and bottom of the pillow, and a shorter one in the middle section.  I love how it's turned out. 

I used 4 different shirts for this make.  Along the top of the pillow I joined patches together.  For the chenille patches, I used 4 layers (one of each together), sewing in vertical lines roughly 1/4 inch apart.  Once I'd sewn lines across the whole patch, I cut through the centre of the top three layers.  Once the pillow was complete, I dampened the chenille patches, roughing them up a bit with a nylon scourer, before chucking into the tumbler dryer for chenilling magic to be performed.  You would hardly believe how many threads come out of two little squares measuring 5 x 3!

For the first time ever I have had a go at free-machine embroidery.  I began by drawing a simple collar and tie using an air-erasable pen, and just doodled over the top with the feed dogs down.  Simples.  Yes - I know it looks simples too - but this is a whole new thing for me.  And I love it!
I may never embroider by hand again.

This free-machine lark is fun!  And I had a big striped panel in the middle of the pillow that needed some form of decoration.  It looked to me like lined paper, so I decided to try to "write" on it free-hand.   The deep navy and black combo of the shirt was too dark to show up with the air-erasable pen, so I gritted my teeth and started to write.  For a first attempt it's not half bad, and looks vaguely similar to my hand-writing (after several gin and tonics).  I see definite possibilities for future projects!  In between the "writing" I lifted the needle and carried the thread forward, only snipping between the words after I'd finished and ironed a piece of light fusible vilene onto the back to hold the stitching in place.

The back of the pillow was a dream!  A shirt front makes a brilliant pillow back.... with built-in opening.  Wonderful.  I now have a whole pile of them cut up and ready for future makes.  I must look out for ones with really fancy plackets in charity shops - think how nice a frilly dress shirt would look as the backing of a bedroom pillow?  Fancy, simple, and cheap as chips into the bargain.

I've also got a whole heap of cuffs too.  I think a pillow would look rather lovely just made out of patches of these in different colours.

To edge the pillow, I cut 1/34 inch strips from what remained of a shirt front to make binding.  No hand sewing here, it's all machined firmly down.  I find a narrow binding the simplest way to put a pillow together.  It means you can lay down the front and back of the pillow with wrong sides together, and just whizz around close to the edges to hold in place before you sew the binding on.  Very quick.  No raw edges left inside.  The finished result looks very similar to piping, but is much faster and simpler to achieve.

The result....  A very cheap and fun way to make a quirky pillow.  As a quilting project, it would make the perfect gift for a man, as it's certainly not girly in any way.

I wonder if I'd just helped myself from the mahoosive shirt collection, if he'd have ever noticed?

I want to make a similar one for the other side of the sofa.  This one may well read "Don't get shirty with me!"

Happy Sewing

Coming up next - another shirty make

Raggy Stars Quilt

Sewing my way through life one stitch at a time


  1. Love this! And the quilt binding in the previous post, as well! Thanks for all the info and tips!

    1. Thank you :) It's so lovely to receive comments. Much appreciated.

  2. Replies
    1. It's a bit quirky - like me!
      Cindy - I know you often leave comments, but I'm never sure how to reply. Trying a variety of ways this evening. Could I ask you to reply if you get this? I never know if it gets to the person who wrote the original comment, or just sits here.
      Thank you :)

  3. Well, that is a cute idea! I like it!
    ~~Dorothy and Wilma~~

  4. Amazing what you have done with the shirts- really quirky and fun. I love that the back is made from a shirt front- brilliant!

    1. I was about to throw the front away when I realised it was the right size. I now have a whole heap of them lined up for future use. :)

  5. I love your pillows!! They are too cute:) I just started a blog and would love for you and your friends to join me. I love to sew and craft. I'm having a drawing today for a Tooth Fairy Pillow that I made.

  6. I love it what a great way to upcycle old items, my hubby has just changed jobs and no longer wears shirts im tempted to hace a go. I do a weekly home make over link on my blog you may like to link your post up x

  7. Oh I loved this post! The cushion is divine and your sayings are wonderful. Can't wait to see the "Don't get shirty..." one?!

  8. Very cute. We are raising 3 grandchildren who also love gadgets, they would take the remotes out of the pockets for various reasons: 1- would take it apart to see how it works and if she can make it work better. 2- Would use it for her tele because she lost hers 3- Would use it a high tech laser tool for his toys....:)

    1. Oh - I'm with you. I so am. With me - it's the other half that's the problem. Can never find anything! Thank you so much for visiting.


Oh - go on! It's so lovely to receive messages, and I really do appreciate it.

I always do my best to reply to messages - both here on the blog and personally (as long as I can see an email address)