How to Make a Romper From a Men's Button-Down Shirt




Introduction: How to Make a Romper From a Men's Button-Down Shirt

About: I am a DIY maven when it comes to making and re-imagining trends and making them affordable! Staying on trend is an exercise in creativity...I value crafting pieces myself and not buying into brand cache. My b…

This is a long tutorial, so hang on for the ride...

Ever wanted to remake one of your guy's shirts into something for yourself?  Not just a skirt, or a dress...but yes, it's possible to make a ROMPER!

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.

(The measurements in the tutorial are to make 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.)

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 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!

Happy DIY'ing...and please check out my blog for TONS more men's shirt refashions and DIY tutorials!

Step 1: 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

Step 2: Step 1: Cut Your Pieces

(each step corresponds to a photo)

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 in the photo).

Step 3: Step 2: 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. (photo 2) 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. (photo 3) Cut out along the lines you drew. (This is just the back of the shirt piece - DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE FRONT!!)

Step 4: Step 3: Add Fabric to Make Shorts Legs Wider

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 below in photo 1)

9.(photo 2) 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. (photo 3) Measure 0.75" straight down from the point you marked in the previous step.

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

12. (photo 4) Now connect the point from 10) and the point from 8) in a straight line.

13. (photo 5) 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. (photo 6) 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. (photo 7) Sew each insert onto the shirt piece.

16. Press the seam open with an iron.

17. (photo 8) Fold up the raw bottom edge of each insert twice, and topstitch to create a rolled hem.

(photo 9) Hem length should match the already-hemmed bottom of the shirt piece.

Step 5: Step 4: Sew Crotch of Shorts

18. (photo 1) 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. (photo 2) 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.

20. (photo 3) 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. (photo 4) 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. (photo 5) 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. (photo 6) Pin the curves together.

24. (photo 7) 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. (photo 8) 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.

You now have a pair of flat-front shorts with the buttons on the inside of the fly opening.

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.)

Step 6: Step 6: Fit the Top to Your Shape

26. (photo 1) 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.

27. (photo 2) 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. (photo 3) Draw a line between your pins.

29. (photo 4) 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. (photo 5)  Pin each side back together and sew to create a more flattering fit.

Step 7: Step 7: Make the Waistband

31. (photo 1) 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. (photo 2) Sew them together end to end.

33. (photo 3) 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.

34. (photo 4) Sew together.

Step 8: Step 8: Attach Shorts Part to Shirt Part

35. (photo 1) Mark the center back of the shirt piece. Extend the side seams of the shorts onto the waistband as well.

36. (photo 2) 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. (photo 3) 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.

Step 9: Step 9: Finish Front Opening

39. (photo 1) 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. (photo 2) 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.

Step 10: Step 10: Make Fabric Belt and Belt Loops

(photo 1)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!
(photo 2) Cut a 1" wide strip along the long finished (i.e., uncut) edges of each cuff.

(photo 3) Tuck the edges you just cut inside the cuff pieces, and topstitch to mimic the stitching on the finished edges.

(photo 4) 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 you're done!

Be the First to Share


    • Pumpkins & Gourds Speed Challenge

      Pumpkins & Gourds Speed Challenge
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Tinkercad Student Design Contest

      Tinkercad Student Design Contest



    This is absolutely adorable, and I'd LOVE to do this..but even though I sew baby clothes and crazy outfits, I'm kinda on a loss for this. This might become a "I'm gonna do a project because i'm bored" thing for summer. -laugh


    7 years ago

    Oh this is so cute!! I'll be searching for a shirt I can use next time I take a trip to the thrift store :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Good luck!
    The hardest part is definitely fitting the crotch right - it's trial and error to get it exactly the right height for your torso length - because once you connect the shorts to the top, you'll really be limited in movement if it's too high (I think mine is just ever so slightly). And there's really nothing you can do to change your torso length!!;-)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm a novice when it comes to sewing, but had an idea that I think might help determining torso length and hopefully eliminate the trial and error process. Wouldn't a piece of string looped around a person from shoulder to crotch give a reasonably close measurement?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool instructable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope you don't mind a suggestion from me? You could use men's cufflinks as buttons---- a way to reuse and re gender

    add a few more layers of fabric to the back placket, this would take up the slack of the clip, button hole the front placket, add a small groment to the back in reverse, so as not to scratch the lady,

    it's your idea to use or not, free and clear


    I have been remaking street-found- jeans into grocery bags


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    That sounds like a great idea! When you write "back placket" do you mean the shirt yoke? I was having trouble visualizing what you suggested above...but it sounds like a great way to re-use cufflinks if you have them lying around...

    Jeans into grocery bags sounds like a fabulous re-use - denim is really strong and the flat-felled seams can take a lot of stress before busting! That's a great idea too!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    am glad you like my suggestion, the back placket, IMO, let's see, in the model shirt you are wearing, where the button hole is, not that part, there would be a hole in front and a hole in back, it's the back part the would have some extra material, to take up the slack

    or not, I figure a button hole would allow the cuff link to turn out of the button hole, you could use small groments, then use a soldering iron to burn the holes.

    we are such a throw away society,

    hope you don't mind a few more suggestions towards custom fitting the garment,

    use smocking to pull the garment in, or sew some 'channels', let's say the bodice is to big, no problem, sew in some channels (2) from the neck to the shoulder, add some ribbon, and tada, the wearer can gather the garment and tie off the ribbons to make a custom fit.

    Thanks Carlyjcais, for allowing me to present to you some of my ideas.

    These ideas are yours to do as you may want, make money with them, call them your own.



    10 years ago on Introduction

    I like attractive women wearing my shirts unmodified, and nothing else with the shirt. I'm not a tailor, so I can't rate this instructable from that viewpoint, but my guess is that an amateur would have no problems duplicating the project using the instructions you given. BTW; you couldn't have chosen a more attractive model, to model the modified shirt..


    10 years ago on Introduction

    lol. No offense. But the color reminds me of a jumpsuit.
    But besides that, this looks great!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, when I finished it I realized it looks just like a prison jumpsuit. Niiiiiiiice.

    I was going to make one in black but then I thought the details wouldn't show up so well, so I went with a huge shirt I had that was grey.


    10 years ago on Step 10

    lot of work, phew, great instructable

    ya know carlyjcais, your really good at this, maybe you could approach a tv station and call your show idea 'sewing with Carly', or ''Carly can sew"

    it might be worth a shot? who knows??



    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Haha who knows, right? I used to work with Threadbanger and then they re-organized everything and I got swept out the door. I've tried making a couple videos but it's too much work to be in front of the camera, doing the tutorial, and then editing afterwards (especially in iMovie, which is the most impossibly dumb editor ever. Automatic separation of audio for L-cuts?? A whacked-out timeline with minimal sound editing capabilities? Only a few, fixed locations to superimpose titles and text on the screen? Ugh. Saving up for Final Cut Express and then maybe I can get a little more done!)
    Thanks for your comment that was very nice of you:-)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Aw great... You just came up with one more reason for my sweetie to raid my closet in search of shirts. (Oddly enough, she never steals the ones with those oh-so-cute holes in them... She just throws them out...) Keep this up and I'll end up going to the office stripped to the waist. And at my age, nobody needs to see that...

    Seriously, that's a super cute outfit. And you made it work with some super cute shoes, too. My gosh, you have both fashion sense *and* a sewing machine!

    And I didn't even notice the model in the photos has faaaabulous legs. Nope. Not one bit. I was strictly reading the instructable. That's my story and I'm sticking to it -- lest more of my shirts disappear as punishment...


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, sorry to potentially leave you shirtless!;-)
    I've raided my husband's closet so much he practically has nothing left; now I just thrift my men's shirts to make over since he's banned me from swiping his stuff. Tell your sweetie to go to a Goodwill Outlet instead of forcing you to go to the office stripped to the waist! (Yikes - in winter??! Wouldn't want that!:-D
    At the Goodwill Outlet you can get clothing for $1 a pound...I bought 48 pounds last time I was there and above 40 lbs. the price goes down to 89 cents a pound!! (I think above 20 lbs it's around 95 cents or so; though every location may have different pricing systems...)
    Though some of the clothing there is dirty or torn, some is in *excellent* condition and only needs a wash!

    The shoes in the first photo are Michael Michael Kors and the last pair are Velvet Angels which have a really unique platform attached to the heel.
    Thanks 4 your comment!