We’ve all had it happen. We somehow missed that small piece of paper or that scrunched up tissue buried deep in a random pocket. If we’re lucky, we have only a few stray pieces of stringy tissue to pull off as we fold the laundry. If we’re extremely lucky, we found a $20 bill we didn’t know we had. But, if we’re very unlucky, we discover amongst the frayed remains of a note or printed receipt that some ink has run, leaving a clear “I was here” message in the vicinity of our pocket.
That’s exactly what had happened to a few of Mr. Trizzle’s dress shirts. Over the course of many months, I collected these shirts with intentions of seeing what I could do. I’d been able to save one or two similarly situated shirts on a prior occasion by simply removing the pocket. The shirt fabric was not stained, so voila! a new shirt.
Four shirts, four pockets, four stains. A few of the stains were very small and light. Highlighter remnants it appeared, tucked just near the pocket edge on a French blue fabric. OxyClean couldn’t quite get the whole stain out of the pocket, but it was able to remove the little bit of highlighter from the shirt. This one could be saved that way, but the others could not.
My first step was to remove the four pockets. I then deconstructed them in order to use them as patterns for new pockets. This was incredibly interesting because I had shirts from three different companies, Brooks Brothers, LL Bean and a more generic brand called Eighty Eight. The Brooks Brothers and LL Bean shirts were clearly of a higher-quality construction than the other shirt. Their pockets were not just folded under before being top-stitched onto the shirts. The edges of their pockets were stay-stitched, pinked and adhered to the back of the pocket before being stitched to the shirt.
It was also neat to see how they had other slight differences. The LL Bean and Brooks Brothers were the more-difficult-to-sew rounded corner style, while the Eighty Eight shirt had a simple pointed bottom. The Books Brothers and Eighty Eight shirt had a straight line for the pockets top hem, but the LL Bean shirts had a detailed V-line.
One thing I have learned from my mother, among many, a good supply of scrap fabric is invaluable. In my bin of stray pieces and old clothes, I was able to find fabrics that went fabulously with the three shirts needing new pockets.
For the pink, diagonal striped, Eighty Eight shirt, I found an old Victoria’s Secret blouse of mine that had been torn in the back. The pinks went perfectly. Using the blouse presented some extra challenges because I had to remove back darts from the stretch poplin fabric. Victoria’s Secret’s professional clothes are very tailored. After a few ironings, the dark stitch holes disappeared and all was well.
For the blue and white striped Books Brothers shirt, I matched another old shirt. This one had been my grandpa’s shirt, and from the looks of it, he had worn it a long, long time. I couldn’t really tell if the short-sleeved dress shirt was white or off-white. By this point, it was basically sheer. But when I doubled the fabric over, it looked perfect with the blue shirt’s pinstripes. Another great pocket.
Lastly, I had the blue LL Bean shirt. This one was tougher because blues can be so hard to match. I had some plain blue fabric left from making my bucket cover, but it was just off in terms of shade of light blue. (It would have been a great contrast pocket for the French blue shirt had that one needed a new pocket.) I needed to find something that coordinated rather than matched perfectly. And it just so happened that I had the perfect fabric in a scrap from another discarded article of Mr. Trizzle’s. I’d been using this purple, blue and green striped fabric in a suit I’m making for myself, but there was enough of it left for a pocket. The stripes and colors added a nice funky look to the shirt.
Four shirts, three new pockets, four new looks.
I was way more excited about the shirts than Mr. Trizzle. He’s still trying to figure out what to do with them. I have to admit, they aren’t really appropriate for professional suit-wearing anymore. But they sure are fun!