Save money – recycle a shirt!

Today’s post – by popular request – is an expanded version of an earlier one, in which I extolled the virtues of chopping up a shirt to produce material that can be re-used for various purposes, including patchwork and quilting.  Here then, is the state-of-the-art, illustrated, blow-by-blow method:

1.Choose a good brand. This shirt is a ‘Ben Sherman’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Choose a large size (XXXXL in this case). Large size = more fabric!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Choose a great colour. The quilter Philippa Naylor shares her enthusiasm for  lime green in a quilt in her book ‘Quilting in the Limelight, so I  reckoned I couldn’t go wrong with this one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Go for a good price. This second-hand shirt was £1.70. Make sure the shirt is in good condition, however, not worn on the cuffs or collar. A great deal of work goes into a quilt and it may last for hundreds of years, so don’t use worn cloth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5. Wash the shirt carefully, on its own, so you can check that the colour doesn’t run. If you put a scrap of white fabric in the washing machine with it you will be able to check if it is colourfast. Dry the shirt.  Don’t go near it until it is pristine and sweet-smelling!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. Using small embroidery scissors, snip off all the buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7.Look for the buttons attached to a label in the side seam and buttons at the back and the points of the collar on ‘button-down’ shirts. This shirt yielded 13 larger and 6 smaller buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

8. Using a double thread, string the buttons onto the thread, by putting the needle through a single hole in each button and then tying a double knot to secure. I use buttons for quilting (see ‘Pretty Pouches’ and ‘Blue Mountains’ quilt.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

9. Cut off the sleeve just above the cuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

10. Next, cut off the sleeve at the top, 3” (7.5 cm) down from the armhole seam (trust me on this one!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

11. Now turn this ‘tube’ inside out and cut the seam off. It takes too long to unpick – it’s not worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

12. Open out the piece and cut neatly round the placket at the sleeve opening.  Repeat steps 8 to 11 with the second sleeve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

13. Turn the main body of the shirt inside out and cut off the side seam on both sides of the shirt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

14. Now cut from 3 inches (7.5cm) below the underarm seam, up to the yoke, across the yoke and down the other side to end up 3 inches below the underarm seam on the opposite side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

15. Go to the front of the shirt. Trim off the buttonhole band, cut up to the shoulder facing and down round the armhole (ending 3”/7.5cm below the underarm seam).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

16. Cut above and below the pocket section on the front and discard pocket.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

17. Trim bottom hem as before. Repeat with second front piece on the other side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

18. Cut the ends of the yoke and cut round under the collar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

19. Separate out the two yoke pieces and cut out any labels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

20. Throw away the left-overs. Don’t give them a second glance!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

20. Iron all your lovely pieces of fabric. There was more than a square metre of fabric in this shirt; the back alone yielded a piece 32”x 28”/80cm x 70 cm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

21.Top tip: fold all the pieces, making the pile into a neat package, ready to use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And if you are wanting to get started on a new craft, such as patchwork and quilting with your lovely recycled fabric, consider coming to one of our “Craft Saturdays” in Darlington. Click to find out more.