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DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown

Mini Sewing Machine Review: Are They Any Good?
'80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion

My friend Katie is a vintage reseller. This means she scours thrift stores for items to sell in her vintage pop-up store at our weekly farmer’s market.

Do I have a problem with resellers? Absolutely not. Not everyone is a thrifter. Some people are willing to pay a premium to have a carefully curated selection presented to them. It’s a good way for folks who have a good eye for what will sell to earn a living in some pretty uncertain times.

Anything that keeps clothing out of the landfill is fine by me. Plus, thrift stores get (literally) tons of clothing donations. There’s enough for everybody. Really.

When lockdowns closed all the thrift stores (a time of great sadness indeed!), she was kind enough to give me first dibs on everything she’d been unable to sell that year. This was a HUGE solid on her part that helped me keep this blog running last year.

One of the items I ended up keeping from her unwanted pile was this sad & dingy nightgown.

Refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown Before
But why? Why did I choose this???

To fully understand, you need to take a closer look at that print.

closeup of print showing makeup supplies
“Vampish”. Lolz.

I know…that print is silly and ridiculously kitschy.

closeup of print showing makeup supplies with text that reads "exquisite"
One might say it’s “exquisite” in its kitschiness.

So sue me…I love it. It’s a late-’80s type print that fills me with nostalgia.

closeup of print showing makeup supplies with text that reads "a scent of heaven"
A scent of heaven????

When I picked it out from Katie’s stash, she said “Oh good! I’m glad you’re going to do something with that one!”

Unfortunately, this nightgown has seen better days and many of them. If you look carefully at the above pics, you can see it’s faded and (I can’t say this enough) dingy.

To the landfill, right?

Not. So. Fast.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission. Thanks!

I was in no need of a nightgown (I’m a jammy pants and T-shirt kind of gal, remember?), but I thought this nightgown would make an excellent drawstring waist T-shirt!

First, I had to address the fabric itself.

Luckily, my nightgown is made of 100% cotton, so I knew it would absorb dye easily.

closeup of fabric label

I decided to dye over the print with a combo of mostly purple dye mixed with a dash of tan dye.

purple and tan dye
My MIL scored a bunch of boxed dye for me for 70% from a grocery store that went out of business!

I mixed the two dyes in my big dye pot.

mixing dye in dye pot
This seems a bit familiar…

This reminds me of my college days when we’d mix grape Kool-Aid with Everclear in huge batches for parties. Wasn’t that a terrible idea?

I shook myself out of my reverie to submerge my nightgown in the dye bath.

putting nightgown in dye bath
In ya go!

When it was fully soaked, it looked like this.

nightgown soaked with dye in dye bath
It’s taking the dye quite nicely!

After 30 minutes in its dye bath, I dumped it into my washing machine for a cold water rinse, and then dried it.

The last time I dyed something, someone asked why I always dye my refashions before sewing them. Their thought was, if the refashion didn’t work the dye would be wasted.

My answer to that is, I dye the clothing first because you can’t always tell how the dye is going to take to the fabric.

Sometimes there are subtle stains that may not be noticeable until the garment is dyed. The odds of this happening are far greater than the odds of me messing up a refashion. And being able to spot these issues early on means I can change course and adapt my refashion plans to work around those stains and other possible irregularities.

When my nightgown was dyed and dried, I was happy to see I could still make out that fun print that made me like it in the first place.

close up of overdyed print
It’s subtle, but it’s there!

Next, it was time to make a big chop!

cutting off bottom of nightgown

I made my chop longer than I expected the eventual length of my shirt to be. This initial chop was just to make the piece easier to work with.

I made a second chop across the top of the bottom piece. This will be my future drawstring!

cutting drawstring out of bottom piece
All you need is a thin strip!

I tugged at this strip to make it curl, and my new drawstring was born!

drawstring on table
Hello little fella!

Then, I pinned each side of my top 1″.

pinning side of shirt
Just a lil bit!

I wanted my shirt to be nice and blousy, so just a small take-in was all I needed.

I ran each side through my sewing machine.

sewing side of shirt
Just sew a gentle curve around the sleeve!

When I was done, I cut off the excess fabric.

I tried my shirt on and marked where I wanted the bottom hem to be. Then I added a couple of inches to that as a hem allowance.

Another small chop followed.

cutting additonal fabric off bottom of shirt
Just a liiiiiil more!

I folded my bottom hem under 1″ and folded it over again, pinning it in place.

pinning bottom of shirt
Measure as you go!
pinned bottom of shirt on table
Looking better already, isn’t it?

Next, I stitched my new hem down.

sewing hem on shirt

When I was done, I pressed my new hem.

pressing bottom hem
It’s easier to do this now than after the drawstring is added!

I folded the front of my shirt in half and snipped a small hole in the center front of my new hem.

cutting hole for drawstring

Using my bodkin, I threaded my drawstring through the hole all the way to the other side.

threading drawstring through casing
In ya go!
bodkin on other side
Break on through to the other side!

Here’s what the bottom of my shirt looked like when I was done.

drawstring T-shirt on table
Neat, huh?

I tried my newly-drawstrung T-shirt on, but still wasn’t happy with the sleeves.

I cuffed each sleeve, clipping them into place.

cuffed sleeve with clips
I think this looks better, don’t you?

You can score your own fabu sewing clips right here.

I carefully sewed down each cuff.

sewing T-shirt cuff
Almost done!

Check out my new DIY drawstring T-shirt!

refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown after
No landfill for you!

I styled my new top with ripped jeans, leather heeled sandals, and thrifted accessories.

refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown after seated
I really like how the color turned out!

My new T-shirt is a great casual Spring staple!

refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown after cropped view
Come closer!
refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown after selfie

If you wanted to make this refashion a full-on crop top, you certainly could as well. This refashion would work great for T-shirts too (not just nightgowns).

refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown after cropped view looking down
I, however, kept my midriff concealed.

That front pocket came in handy as well!

refashionista reaching into pocket
Whatcha hiding there?
refashionista pulling card game out of pocket
What is this?

You’re looking at one of my favorite card games, Skulls of Sedlec! It’s by Buttonshy Games and as you can see it fits easily into just about any pocket.

It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and quick to play.

Mr. Refashionista and I enjoyed a few hands after work!

skulls of sedlec game
Beautifully designed, isn’t it?

I’m quite satisfied by this refashion, mostly due to the dismal state of the original piece I started with.

diy drawstring t-shirt closer view
What a difference some dye makes!

I hope this refashion inspires you to give the pajama section of your local thrift store a second look!


refashionista DIY Drawstring T-shirt from Nightgown before and after


I hope you guys like the new look/design of my site! When I talked to my graphic designer, the only guidance I gave was that I wanted my new logo to be evocative of the 1970s, as that’s the decade of fashion I was obsessed with when I started thrifting back in the ’90s!

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Mini Sewing Machine Review: Are They Any Good?
'80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion