Best of Lei Chic 2009: Runway To Real Way

As we get set to ring in 2010, Lei Chic is taking a look back into our archives and bringing you some of the best stories we published during 2009. Enjoy and see you next year!
Originally published September 8, 2009

Heidi: Hello designers. Welcome to the runway! This week’s challenge is all about chic, recession-friendly fashion. You must take a garment from your own closet and transform it into a fabulous new ensemble. And not just any section of your closet—your man’s half.

Tim: To help, you’ll have the following instructions courtesy of local DIY expert, fashion designer Shannon Hiramoto, showing you how to create an adorable mini shift dress out of a men’s aloha shirt. Hiramoto’s own line of super cute skirts, dresses, tops and accessories, Machine Machine , is completely handmade and she’s got an eye for turning old into new.

Heidi: You have one hour to complete the challenge (it’s really all you’ll need).

Tim: Make it work!

Lei ChicMaterials
You'll need: a large or extra large aloha shirt (preferably a silky polyester or rayon one so that it falls along the body nicely), sewing machine, scissors, pen, thread, measuring tape and bias tape that matches your aloha shirt.


Step 1 Using a measuring tape, measure and record your bust and hips at their widest point around, as well as around your arm's upper bicep area.

Lei ChicStep 2
Lay the shirt flat, inside out, and buttoned up. With a pen, mark where you will be cutting it up the sides and to the shoulders. Follow your body's measurements and add a half-inch seam allowance and an extra couple inches on each side for ease of movement.  When marking the boundary of the chest area, flare your marks under the armpit to create a slight point.  

Lei Chic
Step 3

Follow your marks, cutting along the side of the shirt, along the inside of the sleeve seam up through the shoulder.

Lei ChicStep 4
Cut off the collar for a gentle sloping neckline.  The front of the shirt (back of the dress) can be cut a few inches deeper than the back of the shirt (front of the dress).  Be sure not to cut too much off the shoulders, you do not want more than 13" across the neckline. 

Lei Chic
Step 5

To create side pockets, cut out large bell shapes from your discarded sleeves. Make sure they are larger than your hand size. Make a mark on each of the shirt's edges 8" below the armpit point.  You will now sew one bell shaped pocket piece onto this mark, edge to edge, with like-sides of fabric facing each other.  Repeat on the other 3 edges of the shirt.

Lei ChicStep 6
Sew the front and back of the shirt together, like-sides facing each other, from the shirt's armpit point, along the bell shape pocket, to the bottom hem. 

Lei Chic

Step 7

Turn the dress right side out and neatly sew along the buttons to permanently close the dress.  

Lei Chic
Step 8
Use the bias tape as a trim to encase the neckline and armholes. For a fun touch, go around each trim twice with a contrasting thread color.

For more info on Shannon Hiramoto and her Machine Machine line, visit and shop the collection online at


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