Salvage Worn Out Shirts

Wool Shirts With Replaced Cuffs and Patched Elbows
Debbie Colgrove

An expensive shirt does not have to end up in the rag bin just because parts of it are worn out. Today's synthetic suede and other fabrics can replace collars or cuffs and make patches that will give a new life to an expensive or well-worn garment.

The shirts shown here had worn out cuffs and were almost worn through at the elbows but they were my grandfather's favorites that he wanted to continue to wear. A synthetic suede fabric was used to replace the cuffs and make patches for the elbows.

Pointers for Replacing Tattered Shirt Cuffs

  • Some sewing experience is required to understand the reconstruction process.
  • Choose a fabric of similar weight and pliability as the original garment.
  • Carefully remove the original cuffs, keeping notes as they are removed or take pictures with your digital camera to have a reference.  
  • The removed cuff will provide the needed pattern to create new cuffs. Remove topstitching and turn the cuff wrong side out for the original size of the cuff. Add seam allowances if necessary.
  • Follow the original grain line in the original cuffs so that the cuffs will lay properly.
  • Use an appropriate weight interfacing for the fabric that will be replacing the cuffs.
  • Choose one color in the shirt or a contrasting color.

Pointers to Create Patches for Worn Elbows

  • Wright's has many iron-on patch possibilities.
  • Use commercial patches as a guide to sizing the patches to match the cuffs.
  • To create iron on the patches, use as lightweight fusible as possible to prevent the fabric from being stiff and uncomfortable
  • Avoid iron on entirely and satin stitches the edges of the patch in place. Baste the patches in place if necessary. Use applique methods to attach the patch.