DIY: 3 Men’s Shirts to Convertible Skirt

Get This Tutorial As a PDF

7 DIY Men's Shirt Makeovers ebook

This tutorial has been updated, and is now available as a full step-by-step with photos in my new book 7 DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers, part of the DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers System.

Well, it’s high time I shared another men’s shirt refashion, no?:-)  Spring is in the air and I’m looking at lighter layers and breezy fabrics.

I last wore this piece on Day 15 in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge back in November of 2010.

This particular project uses 3 men’s button-down shirts…which may seem like a huge waste, but if you do have a bunch of old shirts laying around, or have shirts where the arms/collars are damaged and no one can wear them anymore, or if you are buying items at 80 cents a pound from the Goodwill Outlet…then it may seem like a useful repurposing.  (I used the back of a shirt I had leftover from a previous DIY, and one shirt we were getting rid of since the cuffs were frayed, and one I bought from Goodwill.)  And you can obviously use black shirts or differently-patterned shirts so you can create a piece that’s more your own style or works better in your closet than a blue pinstriped piece (which is what I chose to make).

In any case, these shirts can be made into a cute little puff-bottom skirt, whose buttons can be unbuttoned so you can wear it as a puff tube top, OR a midi-length long skirt, OR even a tube-top dress for when the weather gets warmer.  Here’s how to do it:

Project Difficulty:  (intermediate)

You Need:

3 men’s button-down woven shirts (only 2 are pictured above…since I first tried to create this skirt using only 2 shirts – which I found impossible.  My shirts are size XL.)  /  1/2″-wide knitted waistband elastic (don’t get the roll-resistant type; I did and found it “catches” on the lightweight shirt fabric too much when threading it through the casing, making what should be a very simple process extremely difficult)


scissors  /  tape measure  /  marking chalk  /  pins  /  safety pin  /  matching thread  /  sewing machine  /  needle for light- medium-weight wovens  /  iron & ironing board  /  about 2 yd. elastic cord (not pictured; you’ll be removing it from the final piece anyway)

How To:

Make the Top Piece

1. Open two of your shirts and lay them with the right-hand sides flat.  Measure a piece 9″ wide (including the button placket) by as high as you can get to make a rectangle shape on each right-hand side.

2. Cut out each rectangular piece.  Also cut straight across the bottom edges to perfect the rectangle – which I haven’t shown above.

3. Sew the short ends of the button-side of the 2 front pieces together to make a circle.  This will be the Top Piece of your skirt.

Make the Main Piece

4. Fold the back of one of your shirts in half (vertically), and measure 9″ from the fold, in a straight line at the bottom of the shirt.  Mark that line.

5. Draw straight upwards from the end of the line, as far as you can to the top of the back part, then draw another horizontal line heading back to the center fold.  Cut – and you now have a large rectangle 18″ wide and as long as you can salvage from the back of the shirt.

6. Repeat this for the back pieces from your remaining 2 shirts.  You should now have 3 large rectangles – all 18″ wide and as long as you could get from the shirts.  If your fabric is super-wrinkly, now would be a good time to iron all those pieces flat.

7. Sew the 3 rectangular shirt-back pieces together along their long ends using a French seam.

Not sure what a French seam is?  To put it simply, you place the fabric pieces wrong-sides-together and sew the seam.  (So the seam allowances are on the outside of your project.)  Then you flatten the seam allowances to the left, and then fold the allowances + fabric underneath them to the right, and topstitch the seam to conceal the raw edges.  (You can see the fold at the top of the photo above, and my raw edges which I’m concealing as I go at the bottom.)  By creating French seams, this allows the skirt bottom piece to be finished completely on the wrong side as well – so it will look perfect when you flip it to the outside for the puffy bottom to the skirt.  You can get the illustrated how-to instructions for sewing a French seam here.

Attach the Skirt Pieces Together

8. To size the skirt Main Piece to fit with the Top Piece (which isn’t quite as wide), zigzag-stitch over a piece of elastic cording (with one end knotted) – onto the underside top edge of the skirt Main Piece.  Keep the stitches loose and make sure they go over the cord and don’t catch any part of the cord in the needle.

9. Pull the cord to gather the fabric of the skirt Main Piece.  Pull the cord until the circumference of this piece is about the same as the circumference of the skirt Top Piece.

10. Pin the skirt Top Piece over the Main Piece – overlapping enough so you can stitch above the buttons and catch the skirt Main Piece beneath. Stitch, following the seam of the button placket (but not through the elastic cord at all).  Remove the elastic cord by pulling backwards on the knotted end.

Create the Hem of the Skirt

11. Cut off the left-hand buttonhole placket from 2 of your shirts.

12. So you now have 2 buttonhole plackets.  Take the two buttonhole plackets you cut off…

13. And sew them together, end to end, to make a circle, using French seams.

14. Re-use the piece of elastic cord you used in Step 8), and zigzag-stitch over it at the bottom raw edge of the skirt.  Pull on it to gather the bottom hem of the skirt so it is the same size as the buttonhole placket circle piece.

15. Pin the bottom raw edge over the buttonhole placket circle piece.  (Don’t worry about lining up the buttonholes to the buttons at the junction of the Top Piece and Main Piece of the skirt…they won’t line up perfectly, and that creates a bit of a “puffy” shape to this skirt anyway.)

16. Topstich the buttonhole placket on top of the raw edge hem of the skirt (do not stitch through the elastic cord).  Again, I followed the line of topstitching of the placket that already existed.

17. Remove the elastic cord by pulling on the knotted end and slipping it out from under the zigzag stitches.

Create the Skirt Waistband

18. To make skirt casing for the waistband elastic, fold the top part of the skirt under about 1/4″, and then under again about 5/8.” Stitch to create casing. (If holding down the double fold is too tricky, you can always fold down 1/4″ and stitch, and then fold down 5/8″ to be really precise and neat.) Leave about 1″ unsewn so the elastic can be added.

19. Measure your elastic by place it at your waist, and cutting it where the ends meet.  (You’ll be overlapping the ends about 1/2″ when sewing, which will create enough tension to keep the waistband in place once finished.)  Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic piece, and thread through the casing from the 1″ opening you left in the previous step.

20. Overlap the ends of your elastic by 1/2″, and stitch over them, making a rectangle with an X through the center for strength.

21. Slip the elastic ends inside the casing, and topstitch the 1″ gap to close.

And You’re Done!

Though technically I think it’s really meant to be a little puff-bottom A-line skirt, with the buttonhole placket on the hem folded up and buttoned onto the buttons on the top piece of the skirt…

You could also wear it as a tube top dress with the waistband pulled over your chest, and the buttons undone.  The Top Piece creates a nice little “shelf” at the bodice – which looks sweet and summery when belted…

And you could also wear it as a longer midi-length skirt (with the buttons unbuttoned), though I found it’s a kinda difficult length to pull off…

And when I tried to style it as a tube top (with the buttons buttoned and the waistband worn over my chest), I realized I looked like I was in maternity wear. (*’0’*)

In retrospect I should have ironed this piece again before I took more pictures – it had been squashed in my closet awhile.;-)

In any event, I know I’ll be able to find a lot of use for it as a skirt – especially when I want to add some pattern to an outfit that is in desperate need of breaking up the solid blocks of color I always default to.;-)

Happy DIY’ing!

Get This Tutorial As a PDF

7 DIY Men's Shirt Makeovers ebook

This tutorial has been updated, and is now available as a full step-by-step with photos in my new book 7 DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers, part of the DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers System.

Leave Comment

Threadbanger Post: How to Sew a Summer Tank Dress

The temperature’s rising, but maybe you’ve tired of the ol’ tanktop-and-jeans ensemble.  Maybe you want a go-to summer dress but still want it to be comfortable for when it gets really hot.  Revamp a tanktop with the addition of an old men’s tee,** and live in soft-washed cotton comfort all summer.
**I’ve adapted this recon from the book Kakkoii Kuchuuru Rimeiku [“Cool Couture Remake”], by Hiroko Yamase [Bunka Publishing, 2009].  The book is in Japanese, and I’ve converted the sizing to Western sizing, and changed the methodology here and there.  Hope you like it! 

You Need:




 *1 tanktop that fits you well
*1 men’s t-shirt (preferably XL)
*thread matching t-shirt
*fabric scissors
*marking chalk
*measuring tape

*velvet or satin ribbon (1″ – 1.5″ wide)
*pronged studs, sew-on jewels, hotfix nailheads, or fancy trim

How To:

Prep Time

1. Wash and dry both your tanktop and t-shirt if they haven’t been washed before.  Turn the t-shirt inside out and cut off the label at the back of the neck. (not pictured)  Cut off the shoulder seams all the way to the sleeve seams.

Start Sewing

2. Sew the ends of the t-shirt’s sleeves closed, just inside the sleeve cuffs.  These will become pockets.

3. Fold down about 1/2″ along the slit shoulders (the raw edges) of the t-shirt, all the way around, front to back, neck ribbing to neck ribbing.  Stitch down, creating a 3/8″ hem.

4. Turn the t-shirt right side out, tucking the sewn sleeves inside.  Fold in half and mark the center front and center back at the neck ribbing.  Do the same with the tanktop.

5. Measure 4″ straight down from the mark you made on both the front and the back of your tanktop.  Make another mark at each point.


6. Place the tanktop inside the t-shirt.  Line up the center front of your t-shirt on top of the mark you made on the center front of the tanktop.  Pin in place.

7. Pin the neck ribbing of the t-shirt to the front of the tanktop, following the natural curve of the t-shirt’s neck.  (I folded the edges of the t-shirt under about 1/2″ again, since I liked the way that looked.)

8. Repeat Step 6) and Step 7) to pin the back of the t-shirt onto the back of the tanktop.

9. Stitch the t-shirt to the tanktop, following the lines of the neck-ribbing of the t-shirt.  Sew TWO lines of stitching to secure: one line at the very top of the neck-ribbing, and one line at the point where the ribbing connects to the t-shirt.  Do for both front and back of your piece.

Embellish It! (Optional)

9. Use a piece of ribbon as a tie for the waist, stitching at the back to secure. (not pictured)

10. Add studs, hotfix embellishments, sew-on jewels, or fancy trim to the the tanktop neck, the t-shirt ribbing, or the hem of the garment to doll your piece up.

You’re finished!

Without the belt, hands in pockets.

Belted with a velvet ribbon.

Tip: If you feel the weight of the t-shirt distorts the tank too much, sewing the sides of the tee to the tank will help eliminate the “pulling.”

Wear with some espadrille wedges and a cool pair of shades for a chic casual look as the mercury rises.

I’d love to hear your feedback everyone!


for Threadbanger Blog Projects


Leave Comment

DIY: 2 Men’s Shirts to Cute Babydoll Dress

Get This Tutorial As a PDF

7 DIY Men's Shirt Makeovers ebook

This tutorial has been updated, and is now available as a full step-by-step with photos in my new book 7 DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers, part of the DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers System.

To take a break from my usual uniform of dark skinny jeans, black blazer, dark vest, and dark tee…I’ve created this adorable ruffled hem pleat-front ribbon-tie striped babydoll dress from 2 men’s button-down shirts.

(Sorry for the super-dark photos – my sewing room is lit only by a firefly, various glow-in-the-dark toys, and a sputtering birthday candle.)

You Will Need:

2 men’s button-down shirts in coordinating colors (I used size 16 – I think that’s an L, but I recommend using an XL if you are a S/M Misses’…an XXL if you are L/XL Misses.’)  /  thread matching topstitching thread in shirts  /  23″ of 3/4″ wide flat elastic (white)  /  3 m elastic cord (white)…we’ll be gathering fabric so only about 1m will be used eventually, but you need a longer length to do the gathering properly.


sewing machine  /  needle for wovens  /  fabric scissors  /  seam ripper  /  iron (optional)  /  1 safety pin

How To:

1. Cut Shirt #1: the sleeves off the shirt and straight across the top just under the second button.
This will serve as the body for your dress.



2. To make the front insert, first cut the cuffs off both sleeves and discard. Pin the sleeves together on the long side closest to the sleeve opening placket. Sew together with a 3/8″ seam allowance, open up the piece you just sewed, and lay flat.

3. Turn insert upside-down and pin both sides of it to the underside of the opened shirt front we cut in Step 1), matching bottom hemline. (Underlap about 3/8 – 1/2″ on button placket.)

Sew to shirt front vertically along button plackets.

4. Close top button. On underside, create pleats in front insert, and pin to underside of front.

5. Sew a line straight across the top of the insert, through all layers, catching all the pleats. (This will result in a visible line of stitching through the front of your dress.) Then sew button placket closed above the line you just sewed, going through all layers.


6. Button up Shirt #2 and lay flat. Mark 7.5″ up from the bottom, and 7.5″ above that. Cut shirt straight across, through both layers, at both marks.

7. Using the bottom of the shirt as a guide, hem the upper strip in a similar fashion (note the center front and center back of the shirt is lower than both sides). I just traced the shape of the bottom hem, added 3/8″, turned under, and stitched a 1/4″ hemline. (I know, technically the top strip needs to be 7 and 7/8″ tall, not 7.5″…but we won’t tell anyone.;-) It’s easier to explain this way.)

8. Cut Shirt #2 according to the photo above: cut the sleeves off, and cut the yoke off the back (we’ll use the yoke later on).

As to the sleeves, mark 7.5″ down from the top of each sleeve, and 7.5″ down below that. Cut sleeves straight across at those marks. (We won’t be using the cuff pieces.)

Pin each sleeve piece together at sides to make one long continuous piece. (In this order: Sleeve cap + bottom piece + sleeve cap + bottom piece. If you’re totally anal about this piece matching the hemmed pieces from Step 7), cut one of the bottom pieces in half widthwise – and pin each half to the outside edges of this joined piece. I.e., bottom piece half + sleeve cap + bottom piece + sleeve cap + bottom piece half.)

Sew sleeve pieces together. Hem the edge that has the rounded part of the sleeve caps in a similar fashion to the piece you hemmed in Step 7), cutting off the extra to create a similar hemline.

9. Connect all 3 ruffle pieces together by sewing them at their sides with a 3/8″ seam allowance. (Connect all so you’ve made a continuous piece.)

10. Make a double knot in the end of your elastic cord. Place it on the wrong side, along the top of the ruffle piece you just sewed (about 3/8″ from the edge). Using a loose zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, zigzag over the elastic cord all the way around the ruffle piece. Do not stitch through the cord – it must remain free and moveable under your stitches. Backstitch a couple times at the beginning and end of your stitching to strengthen it.

11. Pull on the un-knotted end of the cord, gathering the fabric underneath it. Gather the ruffle piece until it is basically the same circumference as the bottom of your dress.

12. Pin the gathered ruffle to the bottom of the dress, right sides together. The bottom of the dress is already a curvy hem – pin the straight side of your ruffle around these curves. This will create a beautiful wavy hem when finished. Double-knot the elastic cording again once you have verified the pinned length of the ruffle – then cut off the extra cord.

13. Stitch ruffle to bottom of dress, stitching below the elastic cording.


14. Fold under top of dress about 1″+. Stitch straight across bottom of folded edge to create a casing.

15. Attach safety pin to one end of your flat elastic. Thread through the casing and out the other side.

16. Match end of elastic to edge of dress; stitch down the edge to secure.

17. Hold the elastic firmly and gather the front fabric – the finished width of your dress front needs to be 11.5″.

18. Once at the correct width, stitch down the other end of the elastic, and trim so nothing is visible from the front.

19. Repeat for the back of the dress – the finished length for the back of the dress needs to be 10.5.” 


20. Cut back yoke off Shirt #1 as well as from Shirt #2…which we did in Step 8). (The yoke is usually double-sided; if yours isn’t, you have to scavenge fabric from somewhere else on your shirt. I think the ties look best when the stripe pattern is going up and down the length of the tie, not across, so I chose an area where I can get a piece of fabric 17.5″ long with the stripes going up and down.)

21. Sketch out the following shape onto both pieces: a tall trapezoid, with the top side 1.25″ wide, the bottom 2.5″ wide, and the entire piece 17.5″ tall. Cut shape out, separate the front and the back, and remove any labels with a seam ripper.

22. Fold each piece over, right sides together, and sew along longest edge, pivot, and along shortest edge. Turn piece right side out, and topstitch along unstitched edge to flatten it. (You can also iron it at this point to flatten it out further.)

23. Pin each piece under the top of the dress, at both front and back, about 1/2″ down from top hem, on either side. I positioned the pieces matching the dress body at the front, and the pieces matching the ruffle at the back.

24. Stitch across strap through all layers using a zigzag stitch for strength.

25. Tie bows tightly to prevent slippage.

You’re done!

You now have a super-cute dress perfect for lounging about, a sweet babydoll nightie appropriate for the boudoir – or even, under a blazer and over jeans or leggings, a chic piece to add into any day ensemble. Or you can wear it out as is during warmer months – rocking it with some lace-up sandals, a little metallic clutch, and a rhinestone clip in your hair.

(Daiso 100yen shop multi-ring necklace, vintage blazer, handmade dress, DKNY jeans, Payless Victorian button booties)


When I created the front of the dress, I sewed 2 sleeves together – resulting in a wide pleat at the front which can, in profile, make the wearer look preggers.:-P If you prefer a less generous A-line, create use a single sleeve instead for the front insert. This dress, because of the generous front pleat, would also be great maternity wear! (It’s kind of cute-sexy, so I think it would work great!)

I would recommend if you wanted fuller bows – to either use fabric from other parts of the shirt and double the width of the cut parts…or cut the pieces as I wrote above and instead of folding them in half, just fold under the raw edges about 1/4″ and topstitch to keep in place (eliminating Step 22)- thus leaving you with single-layer fabric bows instead of double layer.

The finished dress may be somewhat short for some people -I’ve thus recommended an XL men’s shirt to hopefully deal with the length problem. Making the ruffle 8″ or 8.5″ high before you cut it out may also help with this if you’re concerned about the length – I am 5’6″.

I’d also recommend ironing your shirts first! My blue-striped shirt was a little rumply – which is reflected in the finished piece. The dress is now extremely difficult to iron due to all the ruffles – so make sure your shirts are free of wrinkles first!

Happy DIY’ing!

Get This Tutorial As a PDF

7 DIY Men's Shirt Makeovers ebook

This tutorial has been updated, and is now available as a full step-by-step with photos in my new book 7 DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers, part of the DIY Men’s Shirt Makeovers System.

Leave Comment

DIY: Chanel-Style Black-and-White Cape (from Two Sweatshirts)

cape1Adapted from the book Cut-Up Couture: Edgy Upcycled Garments to Sew [though mine is the Japanese version; I’m not sure if the translated version I’ve linked to is the same]

I’ve written about this book a little while ago in this post on how to make a Convertible Blouson Tunic from 3 Men’s Sweatshirts). To me, this sweet little cape seems slightly Chanel-ish, two-toned, sleek…anything but sweatshirt-like.

(And if you made the tunic following that tutorial, you will have found yourself left with the top half of 3 sweatshirts. In this project we’ll use the top half of 1 for our cape, and as to what to do with the remaining 2 sweatshirts…stay tuned!)

How to Make a Chanel-Style Black-and-White Cape With Bow

You Will Need:

*2 sweatshirts (Men’s XL work best), in two different colors
*sewing needle for knits
*thread matching one sweatshirt
*hand-sewing needle


Measure and Cut

1. Measure and mark 5.5″ down from the neck opening on your first sweatshirt, on the center front. Measure and mark 8 5/8″ on each side of neck opening on the shoulder seams. step3Connect the marks you made in a semicircle around the neck portion of your sweatshirt.

step42. Cut out the neck along the line you made, cutting through both front and back of the sweatshirt.

3. Mark and measure 15″ up from the ribbed hem of your second sweatshirt. Draw a line straight across the shirt from side to side (it should be very close to right under the arms).

step64. Cut along the line, through both front and back of your sweatshirt.

step75. Draw a rectangle 4″ high by 8″ long on the remaining fabric of the sweatshirt from Step 4). Cut it out.

6. Draw another, smaller rectangle measuring 2″ high x 2.75″ long on the same sweatshirt and cut it out.

Your cut pieces should look like this:

step97. Turn the 15″-high bottom half you cut out in Step 4) upside down, and pin on top of the cut edge of the neck piece from Step 2). Overlap the ribbed edge about 1/2″ onto the cut edge of the neck piece, following the curved edge. Pin along edge.

8. Fold both the smaller rectangles you cut in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin edges.

Machine Sew
9. Sew both smaller rectangle along their longer edges, about 1/8″ from cut edge. Turn each right side out again – this will create two tubes. (not pictured)

step1010. Sew the cape main parts together, stitching on top of the ribbing in a matching thread, about 3/8″ from edge. If both your sweatshirts are exactly the same size, the neck piece should not be gathering despite the stretch from the ribbing. (Mine is b/c I used an L sweatshirt for the neck and an XL sweatshirt for the bottom…my bad!)

step1111. Hem your cape, turning over about 1/2″ at the bottom and stitching a 3/8″ hem.


12. Flatten the larger rectangle tube you made in Step 9), roll the seam to the center, and fold each end over to meet in the middle. Hand-stitch ends together to make a bow.
step1313. Flatten the smaller rectangle tube, roll the seam to the center, and stitch one end to your stitching in the center of your bow from Step 11).
14. Roll the strip around your bow, pull tight to the back to make your bow “poufy,” and secure in the back again with more stitches.

15. Stitch bow onto the center of your cape, slightly above the ribbing seam. (not pictured)

You’re done! A lovely cape – just in time for cold weather.

And don’t forget to cut the remaining parts of your sweatshirts in the same fashion – and just reverse the colors – and you can make a second cape to give to someone this holiday season! Brrrr! I feel the winter chills coming on!:-)
cape3Happy DIY’ing!


Leave Comment

DIY: Men’s XL Sweatshirts to Convertible Blouson Tunic

I love to take seemingly unfashionable, frumpy-looking garments and give them a makeover – and boxy men’s sweatshirts are in dire need of some redo! The following tutorial I have adapted from the incredible book Kakkoii Kuchu-ru Rimeeku” (“Cool Couture Remake”) by Hiroko Yamase (Bunka Publishing, 2009).

Unfortunately there is no English translation available (able translator right here, Bunka Pub.!! *hint hint*) and I would not recommend buying it unless you read Japanese very fluently or are able to make incredible leaps in logic while following the directions [in which not all steps are illustrated]. (There are also some mistakes in the Japanese, missing directions, and mistaken diagrams…something a better editor should have caught.) The first half of the book is devoted to refashioning men’s sweatshirts and tees into feminine, draped garments, featuring the incomparable supermodel Ai Tominaga modeling, and the latter half deals with men’s button-down shirts into…um, slightly less-fashionable, more girly pieces. (We won’t mention the last third where scarves and neckties are used to create clothing – a section best left forgotten.) But the first half of the book is stellar, and has some great ideas in it…The original “Button Blouse” in the book is now my “Convertible Blouson Tunic,” and I’ve adjusted measurements for our sizing system, Western bodies, sewing notions, and I’ve changed the methodology here and there.


Read how to after the jump…
Materials List
3 Men’s XL Sweatshirts (we will call them Sweatshirts A, B, and C)**
10 buttons 3/4″ diameter (shanked, not the kind with holes on the face)
104″ of round cord elastic, any color (will be trimmed to around 54″ in Step 8)
3/8″ wide elastic, any color (see Step 11) for length)

**Notes regarding sweatshirts:
*A Men’s XL sweatshirt measures approximately 26″ from side to side, and 30″ long from side of neck to hem.
*Do not use sweatshirts with front kangaroo pocket – this will have to be removed. Style of neck does not matter (crewneck, v-neck).
*Medium-weight fleeced sweatshirts are used for this project.
*Sweatshirts can be printed on the front/back as long as you can salvage a piece of fabric 15″ high, measured from hem upwards. Therefore, if there is writing on the chest or sleeves, it won’t matter because we won’t be using those parts. Or, if the design extends below that 15″ high measurement, you will have to incorporate it into the finished project.
*Sweatshirts A and B must be exactly the same size, shape, style, and color – or else the front and back of your finished tunic will be different – which could be an interesting harlequin effect, if you will.
*Sweatshirt A MUST have no side seams unless you want a seam running down the center front of your finished tunic.
*Sweatshirt C may be smaller than XL
*You can use women’s sweatshirts instead of men’s for all 3 as long as you have garments that are approximately the same measurements as the men’s sweatshirts below…and the sides of the sweatshirts are not tapered or “fitted” to the body. The sweatshirts need to be boxy in order to create the ruching in the finished garment.
*This is a “one-size-fits all” loose garment – on Misses’ small or petite sizes it will appear oversized (so you may want to use L sweatshirts instead), and on Misses’ L sizes it will appear closer to body measurements (there will still be at least several inches of ease). Women’s sizes – use XXL or larger – and adjust required elastic lengths accordingly (you may want to add two or more extra buttons and buttonholes for stability at the neck).

Tools List:
Sewing Machine
Sewing Machine Needle (Med. Weight Knits)
All-Purpose thread matching your sweatshirts
Zigzag foot
Straight Stitch foot
Buttonhole foot (optional)
Fabric Scissors
Hand sewing needle
Safety Pin/Bodkin
Iron & Ironing Board (optional)



Cut Sweatshirts A, B, and C as above, straight across under the arms. Set aside the neck/sleeve areas (we won’t be using them).

Now we will call each piece we just cut Piece A, Piece B, and Piece C.


Cut down one side of Piece A and Piece B, and open each piece flat. These will be both the front and the back of your garment. (Piece C we’ll deal with later.)

3. (Optional: You may want to iron Piece A and Piece B at this point in order to flatten any creases that occurred along their sides – we want the center front of the garment to be as crease-free as possible.)

Locate the center of Piece A (Center Front – referred to as CF from here on). At 4″ on EITHER side Piece A’s CF, mark two vertical buttonholes (large enough to accommodate your buttons), centered vertically in the ribbing area. Mark more buttonholes further outwards, spacing them 2″ apart, until you have marked 10 buttonholes (5 on either side of CF). Mark Piece B in exactly the same manner for your buttons.


Sew the buttonholes on Piece A using your sewing machine (you will not need stabilizer on the wrong side of the fabric as long as you choose a wide enough setting for stitch width). You can determine the length of your buttonholes by measuring the diameter of your button, adding the height of your shank, and adding 1/8″. (Tip: Make a practice buttonhole on some scrap fabr
ic – or in the sleeve ribbing of one of the sweatshirts you cut up in Step 1). Test to see if your button will go through the hole and sit properly; if not, adjust accordingly.) Cut buttonholes open. (tutorial for making buttonholes on your machine here )


Hand-sew on your buttons onto Piece B at the marks you made in Step 3). Sew on all 10 buttons, and shank them by winding the thread around your stitches several times.


Place Piece A and Piece B right sides together, and sew side seams together with a 3/8″ seam allowance. We will call this Piece A/B from here.

6. Make a double knot in the end of your round cord elastic. Place on top of the side seam on the wrong side of Piece A/B, approximately 3/8″ from cut edge of the Piece.

Using a zigzag stitch on your machine, zigzag over the cord elastic, sewing it all the way around the cut edge of Piece A/B. (Start sewing just below the knot you made in the elastic, and backstitch several times to secure.) DO NOT SEW THROUGH THE CORD ELASTIC; the elastic must remain moveable underneath the zigzagging stitches.

7. When you get all the way around the edge of Piece A/B, backstitch a few times over the cord elastic, and remove from your machine. Trim thread ends.

Pull on the elastic firmly and pull the fabric in the opposite direction – this will create a gathered effect. Keep gathering your fabric by pulling on the cord elastic until cut edge of Piece A/B is the same size as cut edge of Piece C.


Double-knot cord elastic and trim end.


Insert Piece C inside Piece A/B, matching cut edges, right sides together. Pin together.

Sew top of C to gathered bottom of A/B, sewing to the left of the line of zigzag stitches so that none will be visible on the right side of the garment.

10. Determine length of bottom elastic. Button all buttons on your garment, and try it on. Wrap a measuring tape around your body at the point where the bottom ribbing hits on you. Add 1″ – this will be your 3/8″ wide elastic length, so cut elastic accordingly.


Cut a small hole in bottom ribbing of Piece C on the wrong side of the garment. Attach a bodkin or safety pin to the end of the 3/8″ wide elastic, and thread it through the ribbing, all the way around. Pull the other end all out the hole- and stitch the ends together overlapping about 1/2″. Feed back into the hole you made – and if you’re a perfectionist, hand-stitch that hole closed.
You’re finished!

This is a convertible piece – you can wear as a blouson tunic (shown above), or in the configurations below:

Button-Waisted Skirt

Undo one or two buttons on either side of the neckhole of your tunic, step into the neckhole and pull up to your waist, fastening buttons as necessary to keep it from falling down. Tuck each sleeve into itself to create drippy pockets (though you won’t want to put anything in them since the sleeves are still open!). If you like, safety-pin the sleeves closed on the insides so you you don’t have gaping holes in your skirt.

Ruffle-Bottom Skirt

Turn tunic upside-down and undo all buttons. Wear with bottom elastic as a waistband.

It seems a huge waste of 3 sweatshirts, but if your SO has extra unworn ones or you score at the Goodwill, it gives them another great life. Can you imagine this done in cream, with gold anchor-embossed buttons for a sailor look? Or seafoam green, with pearl buttons? Or two-toned: heather gray on top with black at the waist? The options are endless…and only limited by your imagination!

Plus-don’t throw away the top parts of your sweatshirts..more tutorials on what to do with those are on the way!

For reference purposes: I am a Misses’ Small/Medium, 4/6 – I am 5’6″ tall and my measurements are 33.5 – 27 – 34.5. I used two Men’s XL sweatshirts for Part A/B – and for Part C I used an Men’s L sweatshirt.< br />
Happy DIY’ing!

Leave Comment

Pin It on Pinterest