Altered Dress Shirt Into a Summer Top

I have several dress shirts in my closet that I used to wear as jackets over camisoles or T-shirts. Some of them I haven't worn in over a year, so I decided they either needed to go, or they needed a transformation. Since I'm pretty frugal, transformation won out. I altered them into summer tops.


Approximate Time: 2 hours


  • dress shirt (It is better if it is slightly over-sized and has no shaping darts.)
  • scissors
  • tank top
  • ruler
  • yardstick
  • bias tape
  • straight pins
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • safety pin


  1. Lay the shirt on your work surface with the front side facing up.

  2. Cut off the sleeves of the shirt at the seams.


  3. Lay a tank top on the front of the shirt. Match the bottom of the tank's armholes with the bottom of the dress shirt's armholes. The top of the dress shirt may extend above the shoulders of the tank.

  4. Measure up 2 inches from the center front of the tank top. Horizontally lay a yardstick across the shirt's front at this measurement.

  5. Make a pen mark on each where the yardstick rests. Remove the tank top from under the yardstick. Using the yardstick as a straight edge, draw a line across the shirt to connect the marks. Cut along the line through both layers of the shirt.


  6. Measure around each of the cut armholes. Cut two lengths of bias tape using these measurements.
    Pin each bias tape length to the outside of the armholes with the right sides facing. Sew the tape to the armholes using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

  7. Trim the seams as close to the stitching as possible. Fold the bias tape to the inside of the shirt. Press and pin the tape. Sew the pinned tape 1/4-inch from the edge of the armholes.

  8. Sew a zigzag stitch along the raw edges on both the front and back, top edges of the shirt.

  9. Fold 1 inch of the top edges to the wrong side of the shirt and press. Pin the folds. Sew the folds to create a casing on the front and back of the shirt.

  10. Cut off the cuff from one shirt sleeve and open the sleeve at the seam. Cut four 1-inch wide strips, the length of the sleeve. Place two strips together with the right sides facing. Sew across one short end. Repeat with the remaining strips.
    You will want each sewn strip to measure approximately 36 inches long. Attach additional strips if needed.

  11. Iron the seams of the strip open. Fold each strip in half with the long edges aligned. Iron the fold to crease.

  12. Open the folded strips. Fold the raw edges of the strips to the center crease and iron. Do not unfold.
    Fold the strips in half again, matching the folds on the long edges.
    Iron and pin the edges together. Sew the pinned long edges. These are your drawstrings.

  13. Attach a safety pin to one end of one drawstring. Use the safety pin to guide the drawstring through one casing on the shirt. Pull the drawstring so that it extends evenly from each end of the casing. Insert the remaining drawstring through the other casing in the same way.

Try on the summer top. Bring the ends of the drawstrings over your shoulders. Adjust the drawstrings to fit comfortably and tie into a bow or a knot. Trim the drawstrings if needed.

By Cyndee from Winfield, KS

April 19, 20110 found this helpful

This is just what I was looking for. I have some cute shirts I was using more for cover-ups and don't wear any more. This looks easy enough for me to do and looks really cute. Thanks!

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April 20, 20110 found this helpful

Simply adorable and you did a great job! Bet lots of gals will be searching their closets for long sleeve shirts, including me. Bravo!

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April 20, 20110 found this helpful

This is so cute! Thanks for sharing, it's right up my alley and I can't wait to make one similar. You did a great job!

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April 20, 20110 found this helpful

Great use of dress shirts no longer being worn as dress shirts. I'm sending this to my college granddaughters who can all use extra summer play clothes.

Really good instructions and photos to follow too.

Thanks for sharing with us.


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April 20, 20110 found this helpful

This is adorable! thank you for the great idea and for taking the time and effort to explain in detail, you did a great job! This is my next project. ;)

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April 21, 20110 found this helpful

I don't have any dress shirts, but my husband does! I could also pick some up at the thrift shop. What a great idea, I can hardly wait. Thanks for sharing.

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April 21, 20110 found this helpful

I wish that I'd thought to make these when I was younger. It would be easy to make them with men's dress shirts too. They would work really well as dresses for young girls. Thanks for sharing!

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May 16, 20110 found this helpful

Really cute transformation.The possibilities are endless.Use you imagination crafters. : )

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June 30, 20150 found this helpful

This is the cutest thing I've seen in ages. Unfortunately, for me, I couldn't get past even cutting out the arm holes. But, a fabulous idea!

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July 26, 20150 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing this. The pictures make it easier to follow.

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