Men’s Shirt To Edwardian Blouse Refashion

This refashioned Edwardian blouse is totally wearable today: With Edwardian underwear it’s an Edwardian shirtwaist but without it’s just a cotton summer blouse!

Men's Shirt To Edwardian Blouse Refashion

This is my third men’s shirt refashion but this time I didn’t turn it into a top or blouse. I made an Edwardian shirtwaist instead! In the Edwardian era, blouses were usually called shirtwaists. The shirtwaist costume – cotton blouse plus wool skirt – was a favorite costume of the Edwardian summer girl and the Edwardian business woman. Shirtwaist were worn for work, for sports, in summer and winter!

Related: The Edwardian Summer Girl

Edwardian Summer Dress

Related: How To Make A Pompadour Hairstyle

Men’s Shirt To Edwardian Blouse Refashion

The Before

I used one of my grandfather’s shirts. It’s a slightly sheer, off-white 100% cotton shirt with stripes. Perfect for an Edwardian shirtwaist! The self-stripes mimic pintucks: Pintucked and tucked shirtwaists were very popular in the Edwardian era.

‘Tucks [are] more fashionable than ever. This shirt waist is made of white lawn and is entirely tucked, front and sleeves.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1900)

Edwardian Blouse Men's Shirt Refashion

Related: Keep Your Home Cool In The Summer Heat – Edwardian Decor Ideas

The Inspiration

I wanted to make a 1903 or 1904 shirtwaist. Early Edwardian shirtwaist often had wide bishops sleeves.

Related: 1900-1909 Edwardian Fashion Timeline

‘The sleeves are the favorite ones that are snug above and full below the elbows.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1904)

More Edwardian blouses and shirtwaist on my pinterest boards:

-> Edwardian Shirtwaist Costumes

-> 1900s Fashion & Accessories

Men's Shirt To Woman's Blouse Refashion Tutorial

The Pattern

‘A really good pattern for a shirt waist is not easy to find, and when found and proved to be suitable and becoming, it should be kept. Changes to conform to the prevailing fashion can always be easily made in it.’ (San Francisco Call, 1905)

I used my usual self-drafted shirtwaist pattern for my refashioned Edwardian blouse which is based on this 1916 shirtwaist pattern.

Related: Dressing The 1900s Woman – Edwardian Lingerie

‘The secret of good shirt waist making is to have the back snug, so says a famous shirt waist maker, and to have the front loose and inclined to blouse at the waist.

The French modistes with their fondness for the snug-fitting waist cannot bring themselves to the point of making the blouse shirt waist, and this is the reason why the French shirt waist is so rarely a success.

But with the American shirt waist maker it is different, and some of the newest waists have a very handsome back, snug as any tailored dress, while the front is very full and very blouse.’ (San Francisco Call, 1903)

The Sleeves

The refashioned Edwardian blouse has elbow-length sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric left for long sleeves. But Edwardian summer blouses often had elbow-length sleeves.

‘The shirt waist girl of the future will wear elbow sleeves if she has a pretty arm’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1902).

These two Edwardian shirtwaist with elbow-length sleeves were my inspiration: photograph of a young woman with her parents and postcard of a woman with lion cubs.

Men's Shirt To Vintage Blouse Refashion

It wasn’t easy to turn the tight shirt sleeves into wide Edwardian bishop sleeves. Luckily, I had a bit of vintage lace-like fabric in my stash with a similar color and fabric weight which I inserted into the back of the sleeves.

‘To remodel old sleeves. Girls who are filled with the economical idea of making over the sleeves of last year’s gowns cannot do better than to adopt the type of sleeve which is merely a succession of wide folds extending from shoulder to wrist […] for by so doing many small pieces of material may be employed that otherwise would be useless.

If there is not enough cloth or silk, as the case may be, for an entire sleeve, the folds may extend to the elbow and from thence be pieced out with net or silk muslin cuffs. The wrists of all such sleeves must fit perfectly, else they will be an utter failure, and the best way to avoid this disaster is to button or hook them on the under side where a little extra lapping will not matter.’ (The Topeka State Journal, 1908)

And I also turned the sleeves around so that the original shoulder seams are now gathered into the cuff!

Sleeves ‘are notably fuller […] the fullness of the sleeve has gone boldly up from the wrist, where the puff was always more or less in the way – and considerably more than less, as many can testify – and located itself at the elbow’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1904).

The Collar

My refashioned Edwardian blouse has a buttoned standing collar. High standing collars were fashionable in the Edwardian era. Sometimes the collars were separate from the shirtwaists and sometimes they were joined. Edwardian collars were either fastened with buttons or fastened with a stud.

‘This year collars are generally attached to the waists, and are very soft and dainty.’ (San Francisco Call, 1905)

Related: Edwardian Tailored Wool Skirt & Linen Shirtwaist

Refashioned Edwardian Blouse Standing Collar Detail

Drawstring Waist

I gathered the front of my refashioned blouse like on this antique Edwardian shirtwaist. Then I added a drawstring waist like on this 1910s lace blouse.

Hooks & Eyes To Connect Skirt & Blouse

To keep the blouse tucked in, Edwardians sewed eyes to the back of shirtwaist and hooks to skirt waistbands to connect shirt and skirt and keep the shirt from riding up! Therefore I also sewed two eyelets to the back of the blouse and two hooks to the inside of my skirt waistband. That way the blouse stays tucked in! 😀

The Seams

All seams are finished with flat felled seams – the favorite seam finish for Edwardian shirtwaists – except for the sleeve seams.

‘The felled seam is a very flat seam made by turning in and hemming, or stitching flat, one overlapping edge of a seam. […] it is sometimes made on the right side of a garment. […]

The felled seam is used any place where a flat seam is desired. […] Any garment which is worn next to the skin should be finished with this seam.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problems, 1916)

Related: Handkerchief To Top Refashion – Edwardian Handkerchief Camisole

First, I finished the sleeves seams with felled seams as well but it created too much bulk. It also stiffened the sleeves so that they didn’t drape well. So I had to unpick the seams again – I hate unpicking! 😉

So I finished the sleeve seams with overcast stitches by hand instead. Overcast seams were another popular Edwardian seam finish.

‘All articles and garments having raw edges inside should be finished by overcasting before laying them aside.’ (A Sewing Course For Teachers, 1893)

Edwardian Shirtwaist Costume

‘While not a tailored seam, it is used at times in tailored skirts where one wishes to have the seam invisible […] When so used, it is stitched, bastings removed, and the edges overcast together, or the seams opened and each edge overcast separately.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1916)

Here are two pictures of antique Edwardian garments with overcast seams: the inside of an Edwardian tea gown and an Edwardian slip. The overcast seam is one of my favorite seam finishes – I’ve already used it for my Edwardian gingham wash dress. A hand overcast seam doesn’t take much longer than a machine finished seam and it’s historically accurate.

Edwardian Striped Skirt

Here I’m wearing my refashioned Edwardian blouse with the skirt of my Edwardian gingham wash dress.

Related: Edwardian Pink Gingham Wash Dress

6 thoughts on “Men’s Shirt To Edwardian Blouse Refashion

  1. I recently made this blouse using a mens wear shirt when I was in a hurry to come up with a uniform to wear to work. I work at Johnson House Bakery & Tea Room Mocksville NC. So far it works out well and very comfortable while serving and preparing dishes. Thank you for showing how to make this. I also made one with an insert for a contrast puff sleeve. Robin

  2. I love the idea of repurposing a man’s dress shirt.
    I’m looking for a blouse pattern similar to yours that has a pleat at the shoulder where the armscye seam is hidden beneath the pleat as seen in many Edwardian blouses and bodices. I don’t need the whole pattern, just a guide for drafting the shoulder pleat so it lies flat and is angled correctly. Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you! If you mean a pleat like I did on this Edwardian shirtwaist where the last pleat of the front covers the armscye seam: there the pleats are straight and the shirtwaist is gathered at the front waist. And some Edwardian bodices and blouses also had appliqued self-fabric bands that just looked like pleats. This could also be an alternative because it is easier to make, has the same look and is also historically correct. 🙂

  3. Do you think this would work by flipping the shirt around so it buttons up the back? If the sleeves and everything are picked off anyway for resetting, it seems like it would work.

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