I love the crisp look of an oxford button down. It can be dressed up with a jacket and tie, or casual with rolled up sleeves and open at the collar.
No matter how these shirts are worn, they always looks great – unless your son wears his favorite one so much that he wears a hole in the elbows….
Well, then you might as well throw it away, right?
Just like Deets from Lonesome Dove, “I’ve never been one to give up on a garment just because it’s got a little age on it.” You can give this garment a whole new lease on life by making a keepsake pillow out of it!
This is a surprisingly easy craft project that took me the better part of a Saturday morning. And it really only took that long because I had to buy a table to sew on, gather my sewing machine and supplies from the basement, and I made up each step up as I went along. Heck, if I did this again, it would probably only take a couple of hours!
It was so much fun, and turned out so cute, I thought I’d share the process here:
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
- 1 Oxford Shirt
- Thread that matches the shirt
- 1 sheet of newspaper
- 1 pillow insert 16 X 16
- Optional – Matching or contrasting piping
First, wash and iron the shirt for the last time as a shirt, button it all the way up.
Then, carefully following the seam lines, cut off both sleeves, and the collar, leaving you with the front and the back of the shirt, which should look something like this:
One thing that makes an Oxford shirt look so nice is the yoke and the pleat placket in the back. I found that with this particular shirt, if I used the inside of the back, I could preserve the label, and the pleat. I also top-stiched the pleat so it was flat and stayed in place.
The other distinctive part of an Oxford, is the pocket. I made sure I left enough room at the top, so that the buttons were in the middle and the pocket was placed right once it was sewed together.
To make the pattern, I used the comics page from our newspaper, simply because it was made of slightly heavier, and therefore sturdier paper. I wanted it to hold up to the pinning and be reusable. (I don’t know about you, but I think the tissue paper used in patterns is super annoyingly thin and delicate!) I used a 16 X 16 pillow insert, so I made my pattern 1 inch bigger than that – 17 X 17. I also drew a pink line down the middle of my pattern piece, so I could make sure it was straight.
When you pin the pattern to the shirt material, get it as close to the top collar seam as you can. Also, feel to make sure that the buttons are centered, and run straight down the center line of the pattern.
I chose to use a contrasting piping. It’s not clear in the photos, but the shirt was a soft lilac and I went with a royal blue piping. The two colors complimented each other very well. The pillow will look great with or without the piping, so you can omit this step. Adding the piping was definitely the most tedious, and time consuming, since you need to pin it to the right side of one of the sides, then machine baste it on, rounding the corners. Once that’s done, pin the front (buttons and pocket) side to the back (pleat and yoke) right sides together. Sew them together, staying as close to the piping as possible
Here’s the cleverest part – Once the two sides are sewn together, simply unbutton the buttons, turn it right side out, and insert the pillow. Button up the shirt once more and… VOILLA!
Here are both sides of the finished product. I think using the label side of the back and top-stitching the pleat gave it a nicely tailored look.
Of course the exquisitely geeky pocket protector from The Nerdery is the pièce de résistance!