Oversew - Recycled and Reimagined Liberty Shirts

Wednesday, June 01, 2016



Viva La Liberty, my oversew entry, is made from a collection of shirts. The outfit is a memory palace of fabrics and stories of treasured items.

My family is big on narrative and epic stories.  Objects are given a history, to be recalled should anyone ask.  Locations on a road trip trigger stories of "The time when.."  Everything becoming a part of an intricate memory palace.  So it is natural that the pieces in Viva La Liberty have their own stories too.

This is the story of the pieces in Viva La Liberty.

A collection of Liberty shirts - 9 in total.  While most of the shirts were found in thrift shops, two were made by family members.  These shirts are a tangible evidence of women expressing themselves over the years through their craft and selection of fabrics.

Each shirt is carefully disassembled allowing the fabric to be reused and re-celebrated.  The seams, collars and cuffs are removed before being washed and pressed flat.  The tradition  of disassembling to wash, or reuse, is common with revered garments, such as kimono.
 The oldest shirt belonged to my Great Aunt. The handsewn name tag is testament that it was one of her favourites as it was packed with her when she moved to a nursing home.  During the disassembly of this shirt, the fabric proved too frail for this project. Only the label has been used in the oversewn garments.  The remainder of the fabric has been put aside for use in a creation more suited to it’s delicate state.

A Liberty skirt - This was originally a kit-set for the enthusiastic, but less confident home-sewer.  It came with shirred edging, buttonholes and buttons allowing the discerning woman to make their very own skirt, with minimal effort.
This skirt was given to me by my godmother after years of use.  My love of sewing has always been encouraged by family, though acts of generosity, such as this.  Given a tradition of frugality and love of fabric, this skirt could only be treasured and passed on.  Part of this garment’s story is told through patches concealing buttons that were sewn and resewn, as well as darker areas that were hidden in the deep hems of the original skirt.
A Liberty toddler’s dress - This small dress was passed to me by an Aunt because she thought I would treasure the fabric and “could do something with it”.  It had obviously been sewn at home, with loving hands, and was meant for a child who would only fit it for a brief moment.  Dresses like this illustrates how women have shown love by wrapping their children in the most precious fabrics.

A white linen shirt made by myself in 1993, in my earlier years of home-sewing. This shirt featured everything conformist about the 90’s from paua shell buttons, to copious amounts of billowing white linen. This shirt had been worn by myself, passed to my mother for wearing and then catalogued with those items “too good to throw out” at the back of every wardrobe.  Fortunately, the hand sewn name tag, saw the shirt to returned to me and reinvented in this outfit.  I took great delight in being able to rework my own sewing, as each piece of the shirt was unpicked, pockets removed and buttons put aside.  The newly created garments are both different from and reflective of, the original piece.

You Might Also Like


Your comments make my day. I would love to hear from you.

Search This Blog

Contact Form


Email *

Message *