In the Autumn term of 2015 TRAID Education visited Raines Foundation School students to launch the start of their ‘Metamorphosis’ project. The aim of the live brief was to creatively re-purpose and completely transform – upcycle – an unwanted men’s shirt and introduce students to consider some of the current problems, and discuss solutions within the global textile supply chain.

The results were highly impressive and imaginative, challenging the students to approach design and fabric differently with consideration of limited resources, form a deeper understanding of garment construction and deconstruction and interpret the shirt in a way that reflected their individual personalities.

As part of a series of blog posts, Raines Foundation School BTEC Level 3 Fashion students write about their experiences and how they created their finished ‘Metamorphosis’ garments.

We continue this blog series with Lucy Connier, Year 13 fashion student who demonstates her step by step account of how she revamps a recycled men’s shirt.

Day 1: I started to play around with my shirt to see what I could remake out of it. I decided I wanted to cut the right sleeve off and remove it from the arm hole. I reversed the shirt back to front to see what it would look like as a shirt dress with the buttons at the back. But I changed my mind to keep it as a normal shirt but to freshen it up and make it unique.

Lucy Connier, Raines Foundation Student demonstrates the deconstruction of a shirt process.
Lucy Connier, Raines Foundation Student demonstrates the deconstruction of a shirt process.

Day 2: I substituted the right sleeve of my original shirt for a blue check sleeve from a different shirt. First I pinned the sleeve in place, then I hand sewed (tacked) it with a contrasting thread which would become useful when moving onto the next step of machine sewing.

Pin, tack, sew! Photos taken by Lucy Connier highlighting the process of sewing a sleeve.
Pin, tack, sew! Photos taken by Lucy Connier highlighting the process of sewing a sleeve.

Day 3: I used the sewing machine to sew the sleeve in place. Using the tacking method to keep the sleeve in place helped me finish my sleeve to a high standard.

Day 4: I decided to add a denim pocket to my shirt. Before I decided where to add a pocket, I used my friend Taja as a model to establish the perfect look. Once I knew where I wanted to place the pocket, I created a pattern with the correct measurements including seam allowance. Before sewing the pocket to my shirt, I tested the sewing machine by completing some test stitches using a scrap piece of fabric.

A selection of pictures from student Lucy Connier, attaching a pocket to a shirt.
A selection of pictures from student Lucy Connier, attaching a pocket to a shirt.

Day 5: I sewed my denim pocket to the shirt using a double row of stitches 1cm apart to each side of the pocket, using the bed of the machine to guide my stitches. I finished the pocket by adding a distressed look to the pocket. I achieved this by first slashing the pocket using scissors, I followed this with a seam ripper and my fingers to create a frayed look. I finished off this project by adding denim cuffs to both sleeves, and continued the distress look by using the seam ripper to fray the cuffs

Student Lucy Connier, model’s her upcycled men’s shirt .
Student Lucy Connier, model’s her upcycled men’s shirt .

Day 6: Altogether I’m very happy with my shirt. Although it remained a shirt it went from an old, scruffy work shirt into a fresh, unique, unisex shirt. Once the shirt was complete I was really happy with it, I was able to take an old, worn, wrinkled men’s shirt and transform it into a fresh, unique and edgy unisex shirt.

A selection of Raines Foundation students work was showcased in the window of TRAID Dalston.