DIY: Men's Shirt into Women's Dress

One of the top trends at this recent set of fashion weeks was embroidered garments.  Top fashion labels like Gucci and Chanel to name a few introduced their spring 2017 collections all showcasing intricate embroidery on their designs. Although this technique has been around for centuries. It's a great update to boring clothing and accessories and lucky for you I know some tips and tricks to help you create your own machine embroidery successfully. Sulky has been in the embroidery business for years and has created all the right products and tools needed to master this skill. Yes, machine embroidery is a skill, it takes the right thread, stabilizers, needles, etc. If you don't have the proper supplies it will frustrating and unsuccessful. Free motion is another one that I will address because most don't own an embroidery machine or module.

I love a good men's shirt refashion/upcycle and thought what a great piece to embroider and use as a New Years dress or overcoat. I chose to do a New Years theme and although floral is a top pattern and has great results, I wanted something different. When I think of New Years I think fireworks and metallics. Sulky threads are my go to and work perfectly with my Bernina machine. I use their Sulky Rayon Embroidery Thread. It's made from the highest quality raw goods in the world so you will not have problems with thread breaking, unraveling, or deteriorating. They create a smooth, shiny finish. Another favorite is their metallics. If you are going to embroider with metallic thread it needs to be high quality or it will continue to break and I've even had needles break on me…yikes. Sulky has wonderful metallics threads that run smoothly into my machine. I'd also suggest metallic needles, they have a bigger eye and it helps with less breakage. 

Another supply you must use for embroidery, free motion, and hand embroidery is stabilizers. Sulky stabilizers meet all your needs for toppings and backings, creative machine arts, embroidery, sewing, quilting and crafting. They also have easy instructions. My favorite to use is their Sticky plus. I basically just cut it to measure and stick it straight onto the fabric with the adhesive side down. I need to work efficiently when I have little ones. 

For the firework pattern I used Embroidery Online's Radiant Celebrations by Lyn Dillin. I then added some free motion in the mix. 

Supplies: Sulky's Stick Plus, a mix of sulky threads metallics gold and silver, and blues.

Continue for tutorial below: 

Mark out where you want the embroidery to go. I like to also sketch or photoshop illustrations to see how it will look prior to starting. 
Cut the stabilizer to fit. 
Peel off like a sticker. 
Place the sticky side down. 
Hoop it. 
Always practice. You can get an idea of how it will look and sizing. 
Now start the real thing. I just embroidered all over my shirt. 
Free motion is basically doodling with your sewing machine using a darning or free motion foot. You can follow a sketch you designed on the fabric or just doodle and "free motion." In the video above I show you how this is done.

Now to alter the shirt... I'd suggest doing this prior to embroidery but I like to make things a bit more challenging sometimes.
Flip inside out and sew the inseams of the shirt like above. Then snip any excess. Mine was really big so I even went as far as removing the sleeves all together and taking in the shoulders and shortening the sleeves. That's another tutorial though...
Find your waist and add a sash into the seam. 

Sandwich the sash into the side seam and sew.
Now you have a perfect New Years dress that's sustainable and one-of-a-kind.

For more embroidery tips and project ideas visit sulky.com


  1. It look so eye-catching, simple and glamorous! I believe my friend would be happy to have such a suit on they birthday!

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