Half-Mourning Shirt


Yep, I’m mixing eras! Oops! I found a t-shirt with meaning to me at Goodwill, and it happened to be in lavender and thus be perfect for half mourning. Hurrah! But wait, it doesn’t fit…

However, upon consideration, I realized it would be perfect if I expanded it by adding panels to the side seams. I then found some silk in my stash that matched the color palette!

In the mourning traditions of the 19th century, people wore all black right after a loss, then transitioned to black with some white accents, and then to lavender and gray in the 3rd stage. Each type of loss had its own timeline, also based on how you were related to the deceased, but the color progression seems to have been culturally used in the Western world for much of the century.

Nowadays, the American culture does not have many symbols of mourning. People wear black to a funeral, but there is not much beyond that. So it can be very nice to adopt a little bit of it, even if not many people will know or understand. It can be a small symbol, like a hairtie or the color of your socks, or something larger, like hair ribbons, or a black edged pocket square, or even a black ribbon on the door. And since we are not constrained by “that’s how it’s done”, we have the freedom to choose the symbols and timing. We can even go back and forth between colors/stages as befits our feeling at any given time
For me, the creation of the symbols is nearly as important as choosing to wear them. For me, this lavender shirt will be one of those symbols.
A few of you will have read my post on the full mourning dress I made and wore. I have to confess it was very nice to wear a tribute of that magnitude and also have everyone know what it meant, even if they didn’t know details. Yes, I had to explain a few times that it was reflecting my modern reality, but everyone was very respectful. I’m a little sad we don’t have something anymore that has the same automatic recognition. But being able to choose your own symbols has a different wonderful place.

This is part one because I have yet to assemble the pieces, but my sewing machine is getting serviced… I hope to show you the finished product soon.

Garment Data:
– Type: Shirt/Top
– Date made: September 2016
– Pattern: None
– Fabric/Materials: A T-shirt and 2 silk camisoles from Goodwill
– Trim: Silk accents from the camisoles
– Time to finish: Several days, off and on

The original t-shirt from Goodwill, polyester, size XS.

An interesting detail from the original shirt: an inset panel running down the length of the back, and a horizontal line of accent stitching. I decided to use the panel in my design as well.

Sorry, I hadn’t ironed these yet when I took the picture. They are silk camisoles I found at Goodwill years ago, thinking that of course I would find a use for the silk! They are much to small for me to wear.

The first step is taking out the side seams.
Ironed and disassembled. They had nice french seams, almost made me feel bad taking them apart! Also, it took forever.

Most sincerely yours,
~ Sarah

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