Updated on September 6, 2022 by Sarina

I am a hoarder of clothes and fabric. In fact, it was when I got to the stage of having ‘too many’ old clothes and new fabrics that I started this website – to justify my hoarding. And a man’s shirt is one thing that I will never ever think of abandoning to its fate – in the garbage pile. If any part of it can be salvaged, I would. 

The shirt was a favorite in my husband’s wardrobe but he decided enough is enough and gave it to me for ‘hoarding’ when he noticed the collar. It was horribly worn and yellow. The result of too much washing or too little washing, I am not sure.

The inside of the collar was slightly yellow due to insufficient cleaning but also severly worn out due to over-cleaning (I took to a brush to remove the collar stains).

The fabric is linen and too nice to not use it as another piece of clothing. Here is the ‘how-to’ to make it into a nice top.

turn shirt to top

How to turn a Shirt to a Top


Step 1. Measure your body

You need to measure around your bust, around the top of the arms, and around where you want the sleeve hem

Remember that your shirt should be loose enough to accommodate top of your body – men and women are different in build.

Step 2. Cut the shirt

Keep the shirt folded as in the picture below and cut out the shape.

Cut out the pattern from a shirt

Cut it out.

cut out the pattern for the bodice to convert a shirt to top

Cut out the sleeves also.

Cut out the sleeves of the top from the sleeves of the old shirt
The sleeves are cut out from the shirt-sleeves

The X-Y of the sleeve should be the same as the B-C of the Bodice. Ensure that the sleeves when cut will accomodate the measure of the top of your arms with some ease.

If the sleeve top is not straight straighten it by cutting off the top a little.

Cut off the triangle shaped top

Step 3. Finish the hem of sleeves

I have decided to use the cuff of the shirt. The problem with this is that then the sleeve will have to be very long because the cuff will only fit near the wrist (depending on the size of the shirt, of course). Alternatively, you can simply turn under the edges or add an elastic casing. 

add cuff

I cut off the cuffs, shortened the sleeve to my sleeve length, and added the cuff this way.

turn mans shirt to top

Join the cuff so that there is 1/2 inch extra on either side. Give small gathers if you like it that way or if there is extra fabric.

Now keep the sleeves right sides together and sew the seams. 

how to convert mans shirt to a easy top mans shirt to a shirt top

Step 4. Join the sleeves to the body

Join the X-Y edge of the sleeve to the B-C edge of the bodice. Do it for all four sides. 

Your blouse will look like this now.

Sleeves are joined to the bodice
Join the sleeves to the bodice edges

Step 5. Sew the hem

Turn under the hem and stitch.

Step 6. Sew the top band

You have to measure the top edge of your top. Cut out a fabric piece in this length plus 1 inch extra as seam allowance. It should be 4 inches wide. 

sew a top from old shirt

Sew the short edges together to form a circle.

Cut out a top band ; sew into a tube

Fold it by the middle and press.

Sew this to the top edge of your blouse.

Sew the banc to the top of the shirt

As you finish sewing leave 2 inches or so somewhere (preferably in the back) unstitched (to insert elastic)

The top casing is sewn to the shirt edge for making a shirt from an old shirt

Step 7. Insert elastic

Cut a 26 inch long and 3/4 inch wide long elastic. (Measure around your own shoulder under the neck for a nicer fit)

Add elastic to the inside of the casing

Use a big safety pin or a bodkin to insert the elastic and then sew the opening shut.

Sew the edges of the elastic together

Voila! The top is ready. 

diy shirt to top

Related posts : Different types of shirts ; Parts of a shirt

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