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How to Upcycle a Men’s Shirt into a Dress

A Happy Hippie Dress to Top Refashion
Bursting at the Seams

When I bought this rather large men’s shirt (size 4XL) at the dollar-a-pound Goodwill, I had no idea what I would end up doing with it. 

I figured it was worth buying  just for the fabric.

How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress before
Life cereal brings out the kid in me!

This shirt sat in my “before” pile for about a week before I came up with an idea of how to use it. 

I finally decided to upcycle this men’s shirt into a cute shirt dress!

I’ve been seeing/coveting them in stores lately, so why not?

First, I used my seam ripper to remove the breast pocket and put it aside. 

I couldn’t keep it where it was, as a seam would end up going through it.  Don’t worry!  It’s coming back later, I promise!

pocket removed from mens shirt
Don’t call it a comeback!

Now, I had to begin the taking-in part.

I put the shirt on inside-out and pinned it at my underarms (where the new sleeves would start), bust, waist, and hips. 

When taking something like this in, keep your estimates conservative. You can always go back and tweak it more, but it’s much harder to add fabric back on once it’s cut!

I took the shirt off and marked in chalk where the pins were, using my measuring tape to keep each side even. 

Then, I drew a chalk line between the points to give me a better idea of the shape.

shirt being measured for downsizing
Prepping for the big operation!

I pinned along each side directly on the chalk line, being careful to keep the fabric smooth.

pinned side of mens shirt
Pinned!

Next, I carefully ran each side under my machine, making sure the fabric didn’t bunch up, which it realllllly wanted to!

Sewing side of shirt
Reshaping in progress!

I used my pinking shears to trim off that excess material.

trimming off extra fabric
It’s starting to shape up!

I tried my shirt/dress on and discovered it was still a bit too big up top for me.

I put it back on and pinned the arms, bust, and waist a tad more to give it a curvier shape, ran it through my machine, and cut off the excess material again.

No biggie!

Remember that sad, neglected pocket? I pinned it near the bottom of my new dress. 

pocket pinned to bottom of dress
One hand holder…coming right up!

I love pockets, and would hate to see this one go!

I used a contrasting maroon thread to sew it on.

sewing pocket onto dress
Hooray for Pockets!

Now…my new dress was fitting much nicer, and was made even better with its new pocket. 

However, I wanted a nice sash to cinch my waist, and give my new safari-style dress a bit of flair. 

Luckily, I had plenty of leftover material from the sides of the original shirt. 

I cut three strips like so:

three fabric strips
Uno! Dos! Tres!

Then, I sewed them to each other, keeping the raw edges tucked in, like so:

sewing fabric strips together end to end
Hiding those raw edges!

Now, I had one, long strip of fabric. 

I pinned the long ends together, with right sides facing each other.

Pinning side of sash together
making a tube ‘o fabric!

I ran this through my machine, making a seam on the long raw edge.

sewing edge of sash
Here comes your sash!

I trimmed off the excess material, turned my tube ‘o fabric inside out, and pressed it, making a smashing new sash!

There was one more issue to deal with. 

The bottom of the front placket needed to be secured below the bottom button. 

In its previous life as a shirt, this would have been the part that was tucked in to some guys trousers (ewwwwwwww!!!!!!! I literally just thought about this!!!!). 

I just can’t have that level of gappage at my upper thighs, so I pinned that part down.

pinning front placket
Pinning the bottom of the dress to prevent any unladylike flashing!

After a quick sew, it was good to go! 

I pressed my new seams, and my men’s shirt to women’s dress upcycle was all done! 

refashionista How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress after
Ready for Safari!

Oh, and check out my cute pocket square! 

I used a scrap from my most recent refashion.  I thought it tied in the contrast stitching and my burgundy brogues quite nicely!

close up of pocket square
All hankie! No panky!

I patted myself on the back further for creating my own version of a similar dress by Michael Kors that sells for $130.

How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress 1
She’s not invited on my safari.

Cheers!

refashionista How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress before and after
Yield: 1 Shirt Dress

How to Upcycle a Men’s Shirt into a Dress

refashionista How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress before and after

Looking for ideas of how to Upcycle a Men's Shirt into a Dress? Look no further! In this easy upcycle tutorial you'll learn how to sew an oversized men's shirt into a cute dress.

Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $1

Materials

  • 1 Oversized Men's Shirt

Tools

  • Measuring Tape
  • Seam Ripper
  • Fabric Shears
  • Pinking Shears
  • Chalk
  • Stick Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread

Instructions

  1. IF your shirt has a breast pocket, use your seam ripper to remove it and put it aside.
  2. Put your shirt on inside-out and pin it at your underarms (where the new sleeves will start), bust, waist, and hips.
  3. Take the shirt off and mark in chalk where the pins were, using your measuring tape to keep each side even.
  4. Draw a chalk line between the points (from tips of the sleeves to the bottom of the shirt).
  5. Pin along each side directly on the chalk line, being careful to keep the fabric smooth.
  6. Sew each side on your machine using a straight stitch, making sure the fabric doesn't bunch up.
  7. Use your pinking shears to cut off the excess fabric.
  8. IF your shirt had a breast pocket, reattach it in your desired location now.
  9. Sew down the front the placket of your dress below the bottom button.
  10. TO MAKE A SASH: Sew the excess fabric from the sides of your dress together into one long strip.
  11. Fold this strip of fabric lengthwise and pin together along the raw edge with right sides facing each other.
  12. Sew the strip down.
  13. Turn the strip inside out to reveal your new sash!
  14. Give everything a good press!

Notes

When taking something like this in, keep your estimates conservative. You can always go back and tweak it more, but it’s much harder to add fabric back on once it’s cut!

A Happy Hippie Dress to Top Refashion
Bursting at the Seams

13 thoughts on “How to Upcycle a Men’s Shirt into a Dress”

  1. This is SO amazing! I love your blog– what you do is really inspiring!! Thanks for all these great ideas. I’ve just gotten back into sewing and can’t wait to try some refashioning, too.

    Reply
  2. I am in love with your blog!! You have a new follower. I just started refashioning old tops recently…I adopted them from my sister who wears a bigger size. They were ooh so cute but needed a little taking in. I know a bit about sewing, but mostly crafts and kid outfits. So i just kinda winged it and it turned out great! I’m so encouraged by all your refashions and I might have to check out the thrift stores more often. You have given me the confidence to forge ahead with my tossed aside projects! Also thanks so much for giving me the name and purpose for the sewing gauge thing (previously called sharp-weird-ruler-that-has-a-strange-and-alien-purpose-and-sits unused-in-my-sewing-drawer). Keep up the awesome work!!!!!!

    Reply
  3. Oh this is excellent, I really like it, you know what I thought you could also do, is to sew a pocket in a different patterned fabric, perhaps a vintage fabric, and have a belt to match 🙂

    Reply
  4. Fantastic! Just need to find me a huuuuge shirt! But it has given me some ‘how tos’ with regards an extremely huuuge muumuu my mum has given me to makeover!!! Thanks!

    Reply

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