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DIY Clothes Ideas (Episode 2) - Upcycling A Men's Shirt To A Jumpsuit

Hey, what are the points of upcycling for you? For me,

1.  Fun to see tired old clothes metamorphoses to a lovely/quirky masterpiece (which you can't resist showing off!).
2.  The fun of trial & error with your own hands and creativity (even mistakes often turn into magic masala for the piece).
3.  Using clothes until the end of their life. Ecologically correct and economically correct, too!

In this order. Fun first. We can't do things only for a cause, it's not 'sustainable'. There should be fun, always.

So this is the 2nd episode of upcycling/DIY clothes.
Again I picked up an old shirt which my guy stubbornly refuses to wear (revamping his mindset is my ongoing big project).
This time I made a jumpsuit from it.



1. Shirt To Be Upcycled And Additional Kalamkari

image of an old men's shirt before upcycling
This shirt is not so big for me, so no much modification is required.

And I have this left-over lovely fabric just enough for a pair of pants.

image of a left-over clothes for upcycling an old men's shirt

For a jumpsuit, ideally, the bottom part should be made with the same/similar fabric as the top part so that it looks continuous from neck to ankle. But I didn't have any such left-over fabric nor pants.
To keep the upcycling spirit, I decided not to buy new fabric. 



2. Cut Like A Masterji

Now, I am going to cut the top part. I cut around 2 inches below my actual waistline.
Keep in mind that the length from the collar to the crotch should be longer than the actual length so that you can comfortably sit in the jumpsuit.
Also, since men's shirts don't have bust darts, I made the centre-front part (the vertical zone between two tits) longer than the sides. If you don't do this, the hem of the centre-front part goes up because of the bust. Do you know what I mean??

image of the shirt for upcycling with a line to be cut


At this point, I realised that the right side and left side of this shirt are quite different in the length, not sure originally or from many washes (maybe originally...).

image of the old shirt for upcycling from the back side


image of the old shirt for upcycling before cutting the back side












 But it's OK, I just stick to the horizontal level with the buttons closed. 


 After cutting, the top looks like this. 

image of an old shirt for upcycling after adjusting the length 1

image of an old shirt for upcycling after adjusting the length 2









 Somehow the hem is horizontal. I am satisfied. You don't need to seek for perfection since your material is not perfect ;)




Now the bottom part. I created a pants pattern, but you can copy the pattern of one of your own pants. 

image of the left-over cloths after cutting for the bottom part for the upcycled jumpsuit


And I made a belt part for this jumpsuit. It's up to your design.

Image of the belt part for the upcycled jumpsuit


And at this point, I realised (should have thought before cutting) that I need to either:
a.   extend the fly of the shirt for 3-4 inches as the 'opening' at the centre front
b.   make the waistline bigger than my hip size so that my bum can fit without 'opening'
I decided to take the simple option 'b'. For this, I decided not to add waist darts in the shirt which I was planning.
Is my writing here comprehensible?? 



3. Sew Like A Masterji

Since this blog post is not meant to be a tutorial, I don't talk about sewing much.
What I did here are:
-   Stitch the darts in the bottom parts
-   Stitch each of the right leg and the left leg
-   Combine two legs by stitching the crotch

image of the bottom parts before stitching the crotch









As for the crotch, stitch twice to make it strong. 





-   Stitch the belt part to the bottom part

image of the bottom parts after stitching with the belt


-   Connect the belt & bottom part to the top part

At this point, I was very excited to try it on. But it was not comfortable and unnecessarily ugly. Why?? 
I found out that I combined the top part and the bottom part opposite - when the top part is facing front, the bottom part was facing back... Sxxt!!

image of the upcycled jumpsuit with the back and front wrongly combined

Actually, it's a rite of passage for me in each project. I get too excited to see the completed piece and skip midway checking. I never complete a project without undoing at least once!
I undid the seam between the belt and the top, and stitched properly.

I also cropped the sleeves. But you can use the original sleeves as they are, of course.

After checking the entire length, I stitched the hem of the bottom and the sleeves. And added some belt loops and pockets on the back.
Then a jumpsuit was born!


 4. Slay!

This is how it turned out.

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit without a belt 1

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit without a belt 2

Since I omitted the darts, it's become a boxy type. But pretty cool and fun, no?

The backside looks like this.

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit (backside)


If you don't like a boxy silhouette, you can wear a belt.
Here are the photos with the belt fastened tightly at the exact waistline.

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit with a belt on the waistline 1

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit with a belt on the waistline 2

But I feel that this spoils the feel as a jumpsuit when different fabrics were used on the top and the bottom.
So I suggest this: wear the belt very loosely below the waistline and wear the jumpsuit mannishly.

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit with a belt below the waistline 1

image of the completed upcycled jumpsuit with a belt below the waistline 2

This is it! Mazaa aaya!
Did you enjoy it, too??
I hope you try this upcycle with one of your old shirts/tank tops + some abandoned fabric/pants/saree.
Again I tell you, I didn't make this post as a tutorial with detailed steps but a suggestion of upcycling. If you have any questions, please let me know in Comments below. I am happy to think with you about your own project.



Bonus Video

Let me introduce Ms. Sarah aka Seamingly Sera
She upcycles thrifted clothes (sometimes a table cover or even a rug!) and uploads the whole project on YouTube.
I love her videos because:
-   I love her self-laughing humour and that she adds it in her upcycling videos. While many YouTubers try to make their videos fakely stylish, Ms. Sarah remains her brutally honest self. 
-   Her videos include everything you go through during upcycling projects. Like, "wait wait, I know it doesn't look good, YET, I know that..." and wondering what to do. Each project is a journey and you can see all her adventure.
-   She loves upcycling not for ecologically-correct reasons but for its fun. 

When I first came across with her on YouTube not so long ago, the view counts for her videos were less than 500. But now, boom! I am very very happy for her :)

This is one of her videos on upcycling a shirt. Explore more on her channel!


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  • Thank you for your comment, Ms. Amruta Ponkshe!
    I’m happy that you enjoyed this post.
    Do you enjoy DIY or upcycling yourself?
    I will post more fun DIY/upcycling ideas in future. Please let me know if you have a great idea/past work to share!

    • Yoshiko Inoue
  • Love this idea of mixing ready to wear (but discarded/ not liked) mens’ shirts with kalamkari fabric. Great outfit overall!

    • Amruta Ponkshe