Every girl who has a love affair with coastal fashion and comfort can agree that dressing for beach days (especially in New England) can be a daunting task.
The frustrating tango of sun and the clouds is enough to take cover-up even on the warmest of days, let alone the infant days of spring. When I go to the beach, I reluctantly tuck layers in my signature straw tote. One of these layers is always a dress of one kind of another, simply because it covers the most of my evolving goosebumps when the sun shadow strikes. This past weekend, we drove down to Westerly, Rhode Island where Taylor Swift owns a beautiful beach house on the water there’s a beautiful iconic lighthouse. Being a New Hampshire woods girl, I’ve never really set eyes on a lighthouse up close, a true shame once you realize how charming they are in person.
Feeling coastal and very brave, I broke out my newest creation. I wanted to incorporate the lace-up trend with the task of up-cycling an old, white men’s oxford. To start, I made a few alterations and if we’re being honest, I had no idea where my project was headed. The design lived step to step, which tested my skills of adaptation and, more importantly patience.
What i love about this dress is the ability to dress it up (pairing it with tights and a vintage basket purse that I re-habed) or down (i’ll definintely be using this as a beach cover up this year!). I have always loved the classic look for a pristine, white oxford shirt, but I found that actually finding and altering one to fit a women’s body had it’s challenges. Below, I describe how how I overcame this obstacle:
So, without further ado, I’ll explain my frustration with grommets and the fit of men’s oxfords. First, I found the biggest, longest oxford from the local thrift. This way I could get the most length, making it more of a dress that a blouse and once you trim the shirt to your size, you have some extra fabric in case of emergency.
1. I tried and re-tried on the men’s shirt to adjust the fit. I unfortunately found that it was a bit tighter than I’d like over my hips, so instead of just sewing up the sides and calling it a day – I added step 3, which I’ll explain later. I also chopped off the sleeves and the collar for a more feminine look.
2. Once the fit is adjusted perfectly (I did a straight up seam for a looser look) cut all the way back up, though the yoke, stopping at the collar.
3. Save one of the scrap pieces you removed from the sides of the men’s shirt in step 1. The scrap’s (pictured as “B”) length should be the distance you trimmed from the armpit to the bottom of the dress. The greater the length of B, the less “A” (the open part of the back) will be. So, just keep that in mind. The width should be measured to your hips. I did not do this scientifically. I pinned an approximation of what might fit, and tried on the dress to adjust. It was easy enough to button up the garment and adjust the fit. Once you have a fit that is slightly loose, like wearing a big t-shirt, sew up both sides of scrap to adhere to dress.
4. Now it’s time to break out the grommets. I marked out every 2 inches, for a total of about 8 each side, with a fabric or water soluble pen. I stopped 2″ BELOW the edge of the scrap (seen above labeled “b”). This pulls together the extra fabric and creates a tucked look & prevents a bagginess. Then, per the instructions on the the grommet hammer, I hammered (this took forever – next time I’m using a grommet punch) holes on the marked location to produce a hole 3/8″ in diameter (or the size of your grommet). I then used the hammer to secure my 3/8″ grommets into place. This produced a beautiful finished look I’m really proud of. I taped the ends of the fabric cording (to prevent unraveling) and laced up the back.
If you end up creating this – please send along your variations – I’d love to see them !