This is not ‘Nam, this is Bowling. There are rules

In preparation for this project I may or may not have watched some or all of the following: The Big Lebowski, Uncle Buck and Grease 2… that’s right, we’re going bowling!

I’ve teamed up with my girls ‘The Spoolettes‘ to complete this sewing challenge of making a bowling shirt.

I started with a white 100% cotton mens shirt from the Cancer Research Shop in Lewisham (£4.00).

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The first thing I did was remove the collar and collar stand.


I also cut off the button stand and a few cm either side of it.


From blue poly/cotton poplin, I cut a new button stand and added seam allowance to the top and bottom. I also added double the seam allowance to the sides, so that the finished button stand would the the same size as the original.


I cut a new collar roughly the same length as the old one. There won’t be a collar stand on the new bowling shirt because these usually feature a camp collar. In retrospect I should have cut my collar a little wider as it turned out quite thin, but oh well.


The button plackets were folded in half inside out and I stitched along the top edge up to the point where it would meet the collar, then turned right side out and pressed. They were then attached to both sides.


Constructing and attaching the collar was relatively straightforward. The trickiest part was getting the seam allowance from the top of the button placket to stay inside the collar. I also turned the seam allowance on the long edge of the placket to the inside and stitched in the ditch from the right side to close it.


Here’s the collar and button placket assembly…

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For the sleeves, I wanted to add a pop of blue there, so I decided to add a little piping. I cut the sleeves off as below.


Two strips of blue cloth were folded in half longways and inserted into the seam. The end section of the sleeve (cuff?) was folded double, so there isn’t a hem there.

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It’s taking shape!


Of course, no bowling shirt would be complete without the lettering. I wanted to do my name on the front and the team name on the back. I chose the font I wanted and printed out some templates.


The back lettering was applique’d. I interfaced some more of the blue poplin and cut out my letters.

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I pinned them to the shirt (decided to go with the curve in the end!) and used a small machine zig-zag to apply them. The final effect is a bit like a baseball jersey or something.



For my own name on the front, I first applied a square of interfacing onto the back of the shirt to stabilise it. I used matching embroidery thread to sew around the template, through the paper. I then tore off the paper and was left with the outline of my lettering to fill in. Filling in the letters took a while in front of the TV, but I love the result. Not bad for a first go! Finally, I tore off the excess stabiliser and cut around the lettering.


Final touches to the shirt were to reapply the original white square buttons (I sewed them on with blue thread, for fun) and make the buttonholes. On trying it on, it was still a bit big, so I ended up taking a couple of centimetres off each side and under the sleeves. I also had to cut it off to the right length and hem it.

Here it is in action….


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Here are some pics of the girls showing off their fantastic makes! Starring the wonderful Clare, Nicole, Alison, Fiona, Kathryn, Joanne, Janene, Emmie, Roisin, Rehanon and Katie.

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Of course we also used the opportunity to have a drink and some American style food in the diner. Good times!






  1. mancunianvintage

    Sally I love what you’ve done with that shirt! :o

    Can’t believe that amazing end product started life as a boring ole white shirt.

    Looks like you had an amazing time with your girls…. you all look fab! X

  2. Marsha

    As someone who grew up in the midwestern United States, I can attest that your attire and festivities look entirely athentic!

    • charityshopchic

      I’m just so modest :) I forgot to mention my lovely rosette that I got from Alison as well. I’ll have to edit the post if I can find a picture of it from the evening.

  3. Jane

    Oh wow, that shirt is amazing Sally! I can’t believe how far beyond the call of duty you went embroidering all those letters! So sorry to have missed it but I can get my kicks looking through all your fab photos! xx

  4. Marie

    You girls are too cool for school…everyone’s creations look amazing! I love what you’ve done with your shirt though, so creative and so darned effective!

  5. Amy

    I’m in awe of your up cycling skills. And your impeccable embroidery skills too! So sad I couldn’t join you all for bowling fun. Looked like a fantastic night

  6. Gjeometry

    I saw all the updates on twitter and instagram. Looks like such a fun evening!! And, your bowling shirt came out famously, very nice!

  7. sewamysew

    Holy shit!! You’re awesome lady!!! Look at Szabo and her crazy leopard print cuffs!! Confession- I can sing all of the Grease II songs… without the movie even playing- Nerd.

    I so wish I could have been there with you all, seeing all those lovely site specific makes is way cool. Can’t wait to hear all about the next Spoolette shindig x

    • charityshopchic

      Yeah she is rocking the leopard print all right!!

      I always thought you were cool Amy but now I know it’s true. I can only manage Grease 1 from memory.

      Why not suggest bowling at the next meeting of the Spoolettes Australia chapter?! x

  8. Roisin Muldoon

    All I can say is, lady, you have MAD SKILLZ. You and Janene put the rest of us to shame with your bowling abilities! I had such a fun night, it was wonderful to hang out with you again. And no boking this time!

    • charityshopchic

      Ha, thanks Roisin :) but I don’t think I’ll be becoming a professional bowler any time soon… It was so great to see you all, hope we can do it again soon! x

  9. theperfectnose

    Love! All my favs in one place-just perfect. The shirt is awesome. I couldn’t figure out at first where you were going with it but the final effect is frickin’ awesome! Especially the names on the back and front. Way to go!

  10. jasperizer

    I was wondering what YOUR hands could do with a plain white shirt. It’s just perfect , personally I ‘m not a bowling fan , but for the sake of sewing and refashion ,I must say you created an inspiring piece! Great job!

  11. Amy

    Very cool! I love the lettering especially! And the girl with the star-themed shirt caught my eye as well, awesome outfits all round!

  12. Pingback: The Refashioners 2015 – Sally

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