Introduction: Upcycle a Men's Shirt Into a Retro Summer Blouse

About: In high school I was obsessed with historical costumes, mainly Victorian/Edwardian. I fell in love with vintage patterns on ebay and started sewing up my own little retro wardrobe. I'm currently an Arts Manage…

Don't have a lot of cash? Or time? Get one of your boyfriend's or father's old shirts, make sure it's not one of his favorites (or do if it belongs to your ex-boyfriend or annoying brother) and make it into a nice top for summer. Only takes a hour or so. This tutorial is perfect for a beginner needing a challenge. Basic draping skills are explained as well as DIY bias tape. All you need is a body, a large roll of paper, measuring tape, scissors, pins, and of course, thread and a sewing machine! (Optional: dressform and cutting mat)

There are 35 steps, it's not very long, I just like taking a lot of pictures!

Visit my sewing blog Vintage Bobbin !

Step 1: Getting Your Draping Pattern Ready

You need a large piece of paper, wider than your shoulders.

Step 2: Finding Your Center

In order to drape you need to find your center of the paper. Fold in half and mark.

Step 3: Ease!

In order to drape the paper you need to add some ease. Cut 4-5 tabs about one inch deep and wide starting at the center.

Step 4: Begin to Drape!

Take the paper to your dressform (or body!) and pin. Mark where the neckline is. Doesn't have to be perfect but try to stay close to above the collarbone.

Step 5: Shoulders

Do the same for the shoulders, simply pin and mark.

Step 6: Cut

Fold your center again. Using your marks, cut.

Step 7: Finding Your Design

We're making a yoke for the blouse, the top piece. For this, we're giving a specific measurement to the top. Don't worry, it's easy. We're just marking halfway down the shoulder, for me, that's 3 inches. Mark it.

Step 8: Finding Your Design, Part 2

Using our measurement from part one, mark straight across. Cut as marked. There you go, you have a pattern for your yoke.

Step 9: Versability

Now, amazingly, as you can see we are using the pattern piece of our front yoke as our back yoke.

Step 10: Remember to Add Your Sewing Essentials

Retrace your pattern on another sheet and add 5/8 seam allowence to the shoulders and sides.

Step 11: Take Apart Your Shirt

Basically, take apart your shirt. Cut off the sleeve and sides. Don't worry about ripping the seams, you have enough to be fabric just to cut.

Step 12: Mark Your Top

Mark one inch above the second button. This is where you'll place the center front top of your pattern piece.

Step 13: Cut!

Pin and cut! Remember this is just for the front, single cut. This way we have a functional button to help get our large heads (from intelligence!) through our collar.

Step 14: Gather!

Take the bottom half and sew a long stitch at the top to gather. Remember your 5/8th seam allowance and align the buttondown together when you pin. Sew together.

Step 15: Baby Got Back

Switch to the back. Cut off the collar.

Step 16: Bring Back Curves

Take your yoke pattern piece and align the necklines together. Note: Stop cutting at the end of the shoulder curve and cut out. This way your whole back piece is complete!

Step 17: Matchy-matchy!

Remember when I told you to stop cutting at the shoulder curve and cut away. You're going to put the front and back shoulders together and follow the shoulder curve from the front blouse instead. You might need to open it up more depending on your shoulder width.

Step 18: Zeam

Pin your front and back together. You might have a few extra (or lots!) of inches on the side. Cut away excess.

Step 19: Making the Collar, Part 1

Fold the neckline in half, center back and center front on the outer folds.

Step 20: Making the Collar, Part 2

Take a piece of paper and trace the curve of the collar. This is your inner collar line for your pattern.

Step 21: Making Your Collar, Part 3

Add 2 inches, or 3, or 1. I like 2 for my collars, but whatever floats your boat.

Step 22: Making Your Collar, Part 4

Add a curve. I took my tomato blossom glass candle (OT, so nice!) and traced the curve, but you can be fancy and use french curve rulers if you have them.

Step 23: Making Your Collar, Part 7238974

And you have your pattern for your collar. Remember the flat edge will be cut on the fold.

Step 24: Making Your Collar, Part Geez I'm at 24 Steps Already...

Cut out 2 pieces from one of the two sleeves. Add interfacing as needed for a professional look. I didn't have any, so I'm going with out it.

Step 25: Making Your Collar, Part...whatever

Sew your collar together and pin to the neckline.

Step 26: Okay, Onto the Bias!!!

Don't back out, it's simpler than it seams. Ha ha, a little sewing humor is good for the seamstress' soul. This works best with a cutting mat.  Take some chalk and follow the bias lines. You don't have to be perfect. Continue until your out of space.

If you don't have a cutting mat, take your sleeve, lay it out, take the top of the sleeve from the shoulder and fold it to meet the bottom, this will give you a good estimate the angle you need to work with to make the bias. If you want to skip this step you can always buy premade single fold bias to match.

Step 27:

Now, don't think you can cut it yet. If you do you'll end up with strips of arrows. What you'll need to do is rotate the sleeve on the side and continue the bias line as shown. Continue all around!

Step 28: C Is for Cutting (and Other Naughty Words)

Pick a line at the top of the sleeve and cut. It will roll out into one giant strip. Just follow your lines and you have your matching bias tape.

Step 29: This Is the Song That Never Ends...

If you have one of those cool bias maker thingy-mabobs now is the time to use it. If your me, you have to fold by hand and iron (try not to burn your fingers.)

Step 30: Goes on and on My Friends!

Now, back to collar. We are using our bias as facing. Open up one of our bias tape and sew the raw edge of the collar with the bottom side of our bias tape.

Step 31: We're Not Binding

Like I said, we're not binding, we're facing. Easy way: Take the tape and fold in and sew. Don't worry, the collar will hide the stitching. Or, you can do it the longer way and hand sew it.

Step 32: We're Almost There!!!

Don't forget to also bind the shoulder seams. After that we'll cut a bit off the bottom. Remember to leave an inch of an allowance for a rolled hem.

Step 33: Rolling With the Homies

Okay, now I got the clueless reference out of me, we are going to sew a rolled hem for the bottom. To do this, fold the fabric at 5/8 and sew, cut away excess, and tightly roll the edge and sew the fold close.

We're almost there!!!!

Step 34: Button Up!

Take an extra button from one of our sleeve scraps and sew at the bottom of our yoke.


Step 35: Finished Shot!

Here we are, in a 105 F degree weather, staying cool and still not broke (or more broke.)

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