Refashioned Men’s Shirt

How to take a men’s thrift store button down shirt from this…Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 1.37.59 PM

…to this in less than an hour and a half. IMG_2049

I promise, you CAN do it. _DSC0251

All you need is a men’s button down and a willing model. _DSC0269

I had taken photos of the process but they somehow magically disappeared. I’m not sure who to blame, the babies or the husband. SMH. SO I am going to talk you through it. The next time I upcycle a shirt I will update this blog post, but for the meantime, here is a link to the inspiration from Life is Beautiful. She does a wonderful job “dissecting” the shirt and showing you the pieces to keep and the pieces to discard.


To start with, you will need to lay out the men’s shirt on a flat surface and straighten and smooth it out with your hands. I buttoned the collar all the way up and made sure the shoulder seams were at the very top. Cut the arm sleeves straight off and set them aside. Measure your model to decide the length and width of the final bodice. I like to add in at least 2″ of ease so we can layer the dress with long sleeves for the cooler months. I wanted the bodice width to be 25″ + 1″ total seam allowance so I measured 13″ across the front of the shirt (13″ for the front + 13″ for the back = 26″). I found the center point of the shirt and measured out to the left and to the right from there 6.5″ and marked with chalk. To find the length, I measured from the top shoulder seam down down and made marks with my chalk (we ended up measuring down 11.5″). Cut where you have marked and discard the extra pieces around the arms. Either by hand or using an existing front bodice pattern piece as a guide, draw a “backwards J” onto the right side bodice and a “J” onto the left side bodice to create the amyscye. Sew up the side seams of the bodice and set aside.

For the sleeves, I decided to add a full ruffle. I measured around the armscye and used those measurements to hand draw a flutter sleeve onto construction paper, then transferring to my fabric. I knew that I would want the sleeve slightly basted so I multiplied that by 1.5 and tapered the ends of the sleeves slightly. I found some pretty pretty pink bias binding in my sewing stash and sewed that to the raw edges of the sleeves before I attached them to the bodice. I used the existing arm sleeve of the upcycled shirt, but you could also use a coordinating fabric to your liking.


To make the skirt, I measured from the straightest point across the bottom of the shirt and up 16.” For the straightest part of the skirt hem to hit right at her knee, I needed the final measurement to be 15.5″ + .5″ for seam allowance. Make your marking right onto the men’s shirt and cut straight across. Baste the skirt to the bodice, sewing them together with a 1/2″ seam allowance, lining up the side seams of the bodice and the now skirt. If you like, overcast stitch or serge the edges of the seam and press the seam up. Topstitch right above the line where the bodice and the skirt are attached.


Viola! In under an hour and a half you have a $2 masterpiece. My daughter begged to wear her freshly made dress to school the next morning and I swelled with mama made pride when I heard her brag to her teachers that her mommy made her dress for her from a men’s shirt.

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