This is a long one, so hang on for the ride…

We’ll be using one ENTIRE shirt – and leave only the tiniest scraps behind when we’re done.  It will take awhile, and this tute is probably not for beginners.

Project Difficulty:  (EXPERT)
You Need:

*1 men’s button-down shirt (mine was sized M, which I found wasn’t wide enough when I went to make the shorts.  Whatever size you are in Misses’ (XS, S, M, L, XL), I suggest you use a shirt that is 1 size larger in Men’s (at least!).  Otherwise you will have to salvage leftover fabric from the shirt to add to the outside width of the shorts…unless you prefer shorts that are tight or slim-fitting on your thighs.)

*about 12″ of 1/4″ wide elastic (not shown)

*3 – 4 pairs of sew-on snaps (the larger the better) (not shown)

* elastic cord, doesn’t matter how much as long as it’s about a yard (we’ll be removing it from the shirt once everything is sewn together)(not shown)

*iron & ironing board
*sewing machine
*needle for wovens
*matching thread
*marking chalk
*tape measure
*seam ripper

(The measurements below are for a Misses’ Medium.  I recommend you making the shorts as measured, and adjusting the crotch lower if you require more room, or wearing them slightly baggy if you are smaller.)

Prep Your Parts

1. Button the shirt up and lay it flat.  Measure and mark the shirt 14″ up from each side (even if the hem is curved, measure along the side seam).  Cut straight across, side to side, through both layers.


2. Cut the sleeves off, close to where they attach to the shirt.  Cut the cuffs off.  Cut each sleeve open down its seam so it lays flat.

3. Turn the bottom half of the shirt backwards so you’re looking at the back.  Cut straight down the center back (if you look closely, you can see the slit down the CB above).

Make the Back of the Shorts

4. Whip out your tape measure and make the following marks on the bottom part of the shirt (I went over the marks in red for clarity):

*at the top of the piece: 2 marks, each one 2.5″ away from center back
*at the center back: 2 marks on both the right and left sides, 10″ down from the top
*in-between: 2 marks, each one 1″ from center back and 1.5″ above the previous two marks you made

All in all, you will have made SIX MARKS on the back of this piece.

5. Draw an angled line straight down from each top mark to the marks in the center.  Then draw a slight curve from each center mark to the marks at the bottom.  (Here we are attempting to make the shape of the crotch at the back of the shorts.)


6. Cut out along the lines you drew.  (This is just the back of the shirt piece – DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE FRONT!!)


7. Next, we need to add more fabric to accommodate the roundness of the human butt.;-) Take one of the sleeves you cut and pin it under the left side of the back piece of the shirt, underlapping the shirt’s center back about 3/8″.  (sleeve right side directly under shirt wrong side– use the photo as reference).  Allow the shirt sleeve to have about 1/2″ of fabric below the hem of the shirt piece.

8. Measure 2.25″ to the right from the bottom hem of the shirt piece, and mark on the sleeve fabric. (shown above)


9. Now measure 2.75″ to the right of the point on the upper part of the straight area of the shirt CB, and mark on the shirt fabric.  Draw a line between the point you marked and the point you measured from.


10. Measure 0.75″ straight down from the point you marked in the previous step.

11. Connect the point from Step 10) to the point on the upper part of the straight area of the shirt CB, using a gentle curve. (shown above)


12. Now connect the point from Step 10) and the point from Step 8) in a straight line.


13. Fold the sleeve fabric under itself so it’s doubled up. Cut out along the lines you made, through both thicknesses of fabric, without removing the pins.  Remove the pins once cut, and cut the bottom layer with the same 3/8″ seam allowance to the left that the top layer had.


14. Pin each piece you just cut onto each side of the shirt piece, right sides together, still allowing the inserted pieces an extra 1/2″ below the shirt piece hem.

15. Sew each insert onto the shirt piece.


16. Press the seam open with an iron.


17. Fold up the raw bottom edge of each insert twice, and topstitch to create a rolled hem.


Hem length should match the already-hemmed bottom of the shirt piece.


18. Lay shirt piece flat, this time matching the right and left pieces of the back.  Pin down the center back, all the way down the curve but NOT down the shorter straight part at the bottom of CB.


19. Sew along the pinned line at a 1/2″” seam – and reinforce that seam by sewing it again, within a scant 1/8″ on the outside of the first line of stitches.  This is now the center back of the shorts, complete with curving crotch line.

Make the Front of the Shorts

20. Turn the piece right-side out and with the front side (with the buttons) up.  Button up the front by turning the buttonhole placket under itself (to the right) and buttoning it into the buttons on the layer below, so all the buttons are now hidden but the shirt is still buttoned up.  On the inside, sew two lines of stitching halfway between the second button and the third button from the top, only on the button/buttonhole plackets.  DO NOT ALLOW your stitching to go through the front of the shirt – i.e., keep it on the placket only.


21. Cut the buttonhole placket directly under the lines of stitching.  Use the seam ripper to remove buttonhole/button placket and buttons below the stitching lines.


22. Fold the piece in half.  Measure 3.5″ down from the button placket, and make a mark.  Cut two gentle curves: one from each side of the placket edge to the mark you just made.


23. Pin the curves together.


24. Sew in the same manner as the back of the crotch: a double-stitched seam at about 1/2″ from the edge
.  Go all the way through the placket slightly above the two lines of stitching.


25. Flatten the shorts out and pin them together at the legs (the straight seams that are still unsewn).  Sew front to back in the same way (using two lines of stitching).  Unbutton that turned-to-the-inside button placket and place a pin in the layer that goes on top to keep the placket flat.


Finally, you have a pair of shorts that have a flat front with no buttons visible!

TIP: Try on your pieces repeatedly during the process of making them.  (i.e., when you get the shorts done, when you finish the shirt piece etc.  This allows you to adjust the fit if you’re not liking something BEFORE you sew everything together.)

Make the Shirt Piece

26. Place 1/4″ elastic on the underside near one of the shoulder seams of the shirt piece, and put a couple stitches in it to tack one end down near the collar.  Pull hard until the elastic is taut, then stitch over it all the way down the shoulder seam to the edge of the armhole.  When you remove the shirt from your machine, the elastic should naturally gather the shoulder towards the collar.  Trim the elastic to size, and repeat for the other shoulder seam.


Sorry – I felt a need to blur out my armpit.  I didn’t really want to share it:-(

27. Try on what’s left of the shirt top.  It will probably still be boxy and unflattering.  Pin the edges of the top together, making sure to match the armhole bottoms when you pin.


28. Draw a line between your pins.


29. Add 3/8″ to the outside of the lines and then cut away the excess fabric.  Cut the same amount out of the other side as well.


30.  Pin each side back together and sew to create a more flattering fit.

Make the Waistband

31. Cut a long rectangle of fabric out of each sleeve: each 5″ wide by as long as you can get it from the sleeve.

32. Sew them together end to end.

Connect it All Together
(I used an elastic cord to gather the top of my shorts before I connected them to my waistband.  Big mistake.  Leave the shorts as is and sew them straight to the waistband.  The elastic cord is needed, however, when you gather the bottom hem of the Top Piece of the shirt to attach it to the waistband.  You will see the elastic cord and the gathering of the shorts in the photos below but please ignore.)

33. Pin the waistband piece to the top of the shorts, matching the waistband’s center seam with the center back of the shorts, right sides together.


Again, please ignore the elastic cord and the gathering in this photo.

34. Sew together.


35. Mark the center back of the shirt piece.  Extend the side seams of the shorts onto the waistband as well.

36. Knot one end of the elastic cord and loosely zigzag stitch over it, as close to the bottom edge of the shirt piece as you can without going off the edge of it.


37. Pin the shirt piece to the top of the waistband, right sides together, matching the center back seams and marks, and the side seams and
marks.  Pull on the elastic cord to gather the shirt fabric to the waistband as you go.

38. Sew together.

Finish It All

39. Try the romper on, leaving the buttons undone on the shorts part.  Fold the center front edge of the waistband under so the romper front is a straight line from the shirt part to the shorts part.  Pin.


40. Topstitch near the center front edge to tack everything down.  Do the same for the underside, even though it won’t be seen.

41. Remove the buttons from the shorts inside.  Try everything on again, and mark where you want your snaps to go.  (I used 3 snaps).

42. Hand-sew your snaps to the shorts and waistband undersides, making sure not to stitch through the outer layers of the romper.

You didn’t think I’d let all that extra fabric go to waist waste, right? 😉


Cut three strips from the remaining fabric in your sleeves, as long as the fabric will allow.  (I made two of the pieces slightly wider on one end.)  Sew end to end, and press the seams open.  Angle the wider edges, and finish all around with a thin rolled hem.  Iron flat to set the seams.

Belt-Loops: Made from the cuffs!


Cut a 1″ wide strip along the long finished (i.e., uncut) edges of each cuff.


Tuck the edges you just cut inside the cuff pieces, and topstitch to mimic the stitching on the finished edges.


Cut each finished piece into 3.

Sew one belt-loop in the center back of your waistband, one centered at each side seam, and one on either side of the center front.  (I forgot to sew the last two before I took photos – woops!)  Do so in this manner:
1.) Pin belt loop lower edge to bottom area of waistband (about 1/2″ above where waistband connects to the shorts), right sides together.
2.) Stitch straight across belt loop, parallel to waistband seam.
3.) Turn belt loop up and fold under about 1/4″ of the top of the belt loop.  Topstitch to waistband.
4.) If you like, topstitch the bottom part of the belt loop to match the top.

And voila!


Give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve really earned it.:-)
(As you can see, I had to add a little extra fabric at the shorts side-seam because I felt they were too tight on my legs.  I know the front waistband right and left sides don’t exactly line up, but I’m sure yours will be better!)



This little romper can be worn with the shorts as is, or rolled up for a cute look that exposes more leg.  You can leave the top unbuttoned and wear a cute camisole or long-sleeve tee underneath, or button up and pop the collar for a more edgy feel.  You can wear with the waist-tie, or without, tie it in a big bow or just knot it, add a belt for a more structured feel…you can even salvage some more fabric from the cuffs or sleeves and add ties or buttons to the sides of the shorts!  There’s so many options…and I hope you customize it to where it’s truly yours!

copyright 2010 by carly j. cais. If you use this tutorial on your site, you must include a linkback to the original here.

~If you liked this post, please share it!~


, , , , , ,

Pin It on Pinterest