How to Make a Ruffled Top from a Men’s Shirt

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.

Tomorrow being Administrative Professionals’ Day I wanted to create something that’s fashionable yet doesn’t scream “look at me!” (and is totally appropos for the office!).  openingimg
With Earth Day just around the corner as well, what could be more eco than upcycling?  Steal a button-down from your guy’s closet and give it a feminine makeover…that will make it a mainstay in yours.

You Need:

before1 man’s button-down shirt (sized larger than you are; doesn’t matter what size)  /  thread matching topstitching in shirt

fabric scissors  /  seam ripper  /  pins  /  marking chalk  /  sewing machine  /  needle for wovens  /  iron and ironing board  / hand-sewing needle (optional)

How To:
Prep Time:

1. Put shirt on.  Button 3rd and fourth buttons on shirt.  Place one hand underneath your armpit; mark where armscye depth should be on the front of your shirt, as close to the side seam as possible. (I used a pin.)  Take off the shirt and also mark the armscye depth for the other arm.

2. Lay your shirt on  a flat surface and cut off the sleeves.  Cut off the cuffs and discard; slit the sleeves down their side seams (as close to the seams as possible without going through any lapped seam detail).  Remove the pocket with a seam ripper and discard.

3. Cut off the center button placard and buttonhole placard, below the fourth button, leaving enough allowance at the sides of each placard to fold under about 1/4″.  (If your placard is finished and bound, you won’t need the folding allowance, but mine wasn’t, so I have the extra step of finishing it below.)  Cut the collar from the front of the shirt (as close to the collar band as possible without going through it), and cut about 1″ along the bottom line of collar band into the back of the shirt.  (You won’t remove the collar entirely from the back of the shirt; you’ll just be freeing it from the front of the shirt.  We want that sucker still attached at the back!!)

4. Turn shirt inside out and button remaining buttons on the shirt.

Sew Front Center Seam 

5. Sew front together, down buttoned placard that’s still attached to the shirt, so you only have a single center front seam.

6. Trim seam and buttoned placard off on the inside.

Adjust Fit

7. Take shirt off and lay it flat.  Pin down sides, straight down from the pins you added at the armscye depth.

8. Turn shirt right-side-out and try it on.  Adjust pins as necessary for a more tapered fit at the waist, and a freer fit at the hip.  Make sure the armscye depth is still correct, and that you can get the shirt over your head.

9. Take shirt off, turn inside out, and trace a “best-fit” line between your pins at the sides.  Remove pins.  Add 1″ to the outside of the lines, and retrace the shape of the sides.

10. Cut shirt front from shirt back at the sides, cutting along the outside lines you drew in the previous step.

11. Trace shirt front onto shirt back.Draw lines on back about 3/8″ to the inside of the lines you just draw.  Cut shirt back on these lines.

12. Pin shirt front to shirt back.  (Your shirt front should now be about 3/4″ larger than the back.)

Sew the Sides

13. Sew shirt sides together.

14. Iron shirt and sleeves flat, paying special attention to the button placard still attached to the collar.

If your button placard is not finished on one side, now is the time to fold the unfinished side under, and topstitch so that both sides are finished.

Make the Ruffles 

15. Lay your sleeves flat and cut two pieces from the sleeves, next to the angled sleeve seams. (These pieces will be your Angled Ruffles.) Cut on the grain, cutting a piece about 1.5″ wide at its smaller end and 5.5″ wide at the widest end.  Trim any raw edges near the bound edge off.

16. Cut 2 long rectangles from each sleeve about 3″ wide by  the length of your sleeve.  Square off the ends.  These pieces will be your Long Ruffles.

17. Sew 2 long rectangles together, short end to short end.  Repeat for the other 2 pieces.

18. Fold over the long edge of one of the pieces from the previous step about 1/4″; sew a scant 1/16″ from the edge. Trim the raw edge next to your line of stitching.  Fold over the stitched edges about 1/4″ again; topstitch close to the edge to create a bound seam.  Do the same for the other connected long rectangle piece.

19. Using either a hand-sewing needle or a long basting stitch on your machine (or a gathering foot if you have it!), stitch long, basting stitches along the long raw edge of each long rectangle, and along the unbound raw edges of the angled ruffles.  Pull the thread to gather the pieces into ruffles.

Finish the Collar

20. Pin one long ruffled rectangle under the button placket of your collar piece, matching the length by pulling on the basting thread. Pin the angled ruffled piece underneath the long ruffled piece – the piece will only go down about 3/4 of the way of the placket.  Fold the bottom of the placket under the long rectangle ruffle end about 1/4″.21. Topstitch the edge of the placket, through all layers to secure.  (I chose to connect the top of the rectangle ruffle under my collar band piece, but leave the top of the angled ruffle free, like “wings.”)

21. Repeat for the other side and the buttonhole placket.

23. We need to re-connect the collar to the shirt now – so start with the button placket side, and pin down overlapping the open hole in the front of the shirt.  (Make sure the buttons are centered over the center front seam!)  Pin the placket to the shirt, going straight upwards all the way to the collar area.

Pin the collar to the back of the shirt, overlapping the back of the shirt as much as you can by angling the collar downward.  Between the top of the placket and the shoulder seam of the shirt, you’re going to have excess fabric, so gather it and pin the collar over it.24. Topstitch the button placket to the shirt.  (I had to zigzag over the collar band connection at the back of the shirt – there was a small gap that no amount of angling that collar piece was going to fix.)

25. Place buttonhole placket end over end of button placket, and do up the bottom button.

Topstitch end down, through all layers, and reinforce stitching.

26. Un-button bottom button, and pin buttonhole placket to front of shirt in the same manner as you did the button placket.  Topstitch through all layers.

Finish the Armscyes

 27. Try on the shirt and draw the shape of the shoulder how you want it.

28. Take off the shirt, and cut the armscye shape about 1/2″ on the outside of your markings.  Trace the shape onto the other shoulder, and cut it out too.

29. Turn under 1/2″ of an inch, and stitch about 3/8″ from the edge to finish, notching as you go.  (If you want a more finished look, cut the armscye 3/4″ outside of your markings, turn once and topstitch; turn again and topstitch to create a bound seam.  I find this very difficult along a curve, as often the armscye becomes tighter and smaller the more times you turn the edge, and notching the inside on such a small seam allowance is quite difficult.  If anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them!)

Hem and You’re Done!

30. Try on the shirt and mark where you want the hem to be.

Cut about 1/2″ below this line, fold under, and stitch at a 3/8″ hem on your machine.


Voila!  A super-ruffly, super-feminine piece for the office.

DONE1 (As you can see, I also added 2 bust darts to make the feminine fit even better; you might need to do the same depending on the size of your bust and how you “fill out” the bust area of the top.  I do also need to press the armscye seams and remove the yellow chalk lines…I was just so excited to be done and couldn’t wait to take the photo…;-)

Thank goodness there’s someone around to redo all these stuffy men’s shirts and breathe some girly life into them!

done2Happy DIY’ing!


as posted on in 2010 (no longer hosted there since they changed networks)

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.

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How To Make a Knotted Cord Belt




Summer is almost upon is, and style inspired by ancient cultures is in. Bold prints, bright colors, beads, and lacing: we’re seeing it on the runways and on fashionable girls on the street.
Create the above knotted belt out of satin cord and add jewelry findings for a fashion-forward Celtic infusion of style!  (The lacing may look tricky, but once you get the hang of that, it’s a piece of cake!)

How to Make a Bohemian Macrame-Style Knotted Cord Elastic Belt

Materials You Need:

5 yd of satin cord (about 2.5 – 3 mm thick) *small amount of scrap fabric  //  14 large crimp coil necklace ends (silver-tone)  //  4 large silver-tone necklace end connectors  //  1.5″ wide black elastic, cut to your waist circumference (we’ll be cutting it shorter below)  //  2 snap fasteners

Tools You Need:

tape  //  scissors  //  wire-cutting pliers  //  sewing machine  //  regular to heavy-duty needle  //  thread matching belt color  //  snap-setting pliers or die & hammer  //  iron & ironing board

How To:
Prep Your Parts

1. Cut satin cord into the following pieces:
*FOUR pieces 14″ long (to make outer loop)
*FOUR pieces 18″ long (to make center knot)

2. Use pliers to press down the end coils of the crimp ends.  Cut off the hang-loops of the end connectors.

3. Cut 4 pieces from your fabric, measuring 4.25″ wide by 3″ high. We’ll come back to those fabric pieces later.

Start Weaving: Outer Loop First

4. Thread 2 crimp ends onto a 14″ piece of cord.  Loop it over and tape down the ends.

5. Tape down another 14″ piece of cord.  Thread it through the crimp coil from the previous piece of cord…and add a crimp coil onto the cord.

6. Add another crimp coil, and loop it around.

7. Thread it back through the remaining crimp coil on the first cord.  Tape down the end.

8. Secure the loop you just made with a piece of tape.

Keep Going: Inner Loop-and-Knot

9. Put a crimp coil on one of the 18″ cord pieces and tape down the end, placing it in the center and directly below the cord from the previous step.

10. Thread it through the crimp coil on the adjacent cord and loop it around to the right, then back under the first two cords, heading downwards.

11. Thread it over itself, then downwards under the first two cords again.

12. Loop it to the right, back over the first two cords, and then to the left under itself again.

13. Thread it back through the crimp coil on the adjacent cord.

14. Add another crimp coil, and tack down the end with tape.

15. Time for the final cord! Tape down the end of another 18″ piece of cord, and thread it to the right and through through crimp coil on the adjacent cord.

16. Add a crimp coil, and weave the cord around the center loop in the same manner as the previous piece.  (It will be to the outside of the previous cord.  Go under the previous piece, to the right, over the taped-down outer loop, up and around, under the outer loop cords, over the center loop cords and down…)

17. Keep following the center loop of the previous cord.  (Around and to the right, over the taped-down center loop, back to the left, under itself…) And finally, thread it back into the crimp coil you added to it in Step 15).

18. Then tape its end down.

19. Shift the ends of all your cords together, re-tape, and push the crimp coils further to the right, closer to your center loop-and-knot.

20. Use pliers to add an end connector to the center cords just to the left of the taped-down loop. Smooth out your cords – and congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Other Side & Finish Lacing

21. Make one more group of looped cords in exactly the same manner. (See Steps 4) – 20)]

22. Place the two groups of cord side-by-side, matching up the centers.  Add 2 more end connectors to the center loops to connect one side to the other. Now you’re finished with all that lacing – which probably feels fabulous!

Make the Belt

23. Tape both ends of the cord group on top of the ends of your piece of elastic.  Make sure your cords are centered and each side overlaps the elastic the same amount.

24. Fold the elastic under itself, about 3/8″, and stitch the cords down on top.  (I went over the same area twice with a straight stitch, then zigzagged down it for strength.)  Stitch down both sides to the elastic.

25. Trim off the cord ends on the other side of your stitching.

26. Cut your elastic piece in half.

27. Place 2 fabric pieces right sides together, on top of where you’ve stitched the cords to the elastic.  Trace the width of the elastic, and mark the width of the cords.  Then draw a “D” shape between the elastic piece, about 2″ long.

28. Do the same for the other 2 pieces of fabric.

29. Sew around the “D” on each pair of fabric pieces, just outside you markings.  Leave a small area unsewn on the flat side in order to turn them right-side-out.

30. Trim fabric around the sewing at about 1/4″.

Notch, then turn the pieces right side out.  Tuck the unsewn areas’ raw edges to the inside.  Press both pieces with an iron to flatten.

31. Place one D piece over where the cords are sewn to the elastic, in order to cover them.  (Rounded edge of D needs to cover the cords but hang off the edge of the elastic.) Topstitch around edge of D, about 1/8″ from edge, to secure it to the elastic and the cords.

32. Try on belt, and center the knotted cord at your center front.  Mark where the elastic meets at your center back.  Cut elastic at that measurement.

33. Fold each end of elastic under about 3/4″.  Sew down about 1/2″ from edge.

34. Set two sets of snaps in the elastic ends according to the instructions on your snap-setting pliers or die set.

Ta da!  This tutorial looks complex, but doing it is incredibly rewarding – and the whole process is a lot faster than it looks!

Tip: If you want to make more of a statement piece, use thicker cord or rope, and thread it through large-hole beads instead of jewelry findings.  You could even wrap strips of embossing metal around the cords instead of threading them through beads at all!

Have fun and go tribal:-)

It also doubles as a cute necklace at this size!



as originally posted on







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DIY Avant-Garde Artistic Button-Embellished Top

Inspired by the original DIY’er, Martin Margiela, I’ve dipped into my overflowing stash of mismatched buttons to craft a fabulously avant-garde-style t-shirt. I’m using an old shirt that I was considering discarding because of a couple tiny stains on the front.  But that’s what DIY’s for!  Cover up stains, patching, pilling, or a design you don’t like…or add interest to an otherwsie boring piece.  There’s a ton of great art and photos out on the internet – or you can create your own image and use it as a template for button placement.  I chose monochromatic buttons so that the image would appear “pixellated” when standing from afar – and though I chose to make an eye (in my own homage to Salvador Dali), you could make anything your heart desires.

You Need:

t-shirt*large number of buttons in various sizes and shapes (preferably in shades of black, white, and gray)  //  Jewel-It Embellishing Glue (or other glue for affixing plastic embellishments to fabric)  //  piece of cardboard or t-shirt board


printout, drawing, or photo  //  tape  //  sewing machine & needle for knits  // hand-sewing needle  //  thread matching buttons

How To:

Prep Time

1. Pre-wash t-shirt if it hasn’t been washed already.  Place cardboard or t-shirt board inside t-shirt to flatten front.2. (Optional) If you are using a piece of artwork as a template, slide it inside your tee, just on top of the board. Secure with tape.



3. Now’s the time to channel your inner artiste!  Place tee on a flat surface and start covering it with buttons.  Start with the black outlines, then place the brightest white buttons on the brightest white parts of the eye.  (You’ll probably spend a lot of time squinting at your picture.)  Stand back every few minutes to see if you like the effect, and adjust your placement as necessary.

Make it Permanent

4. When you’re pleased with your button artwork, now you need to take each button off and affix it to the t-shirt.  For the larger buttons add a daub of glue to its back; for the smaller dot glue onto the shirt itself.  If you plan to go back and sew your buttons for more security – be careful you don’t get any glue in the buttonholes.  (If you are using shanked buttons, you’ll have to hand-sew them on to the shirt.)

5. After you’ve glued all your buttons down, allow the glue to dry per the instructions.

6. (Optional) Remove board from tee, and proceed to sew all the buttons down to the front of your shirt.  (Drop the sewing machine’s feed dogs, and zigzag into 2 holes of each button – which should be secure to hold it on and allow you to machine-wash your shirt.)7. Wear and enjoy all the extra attention.  (If you have chosen not to sew your buttons down, follow the washing instructions on the glue.  Some glues are not fast when put in the wash, so be careful when choosing!)


Pair with black and white pieces to make your monochromatic look.  Here’s looking at you, kid!

Thanks for reading – and if you have any questions, ask them in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out!
Carly J. Cais

as posted on Threadbanger


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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!


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