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Re-purposing: Boy’s Button-Up into Girl’s Top with Tie

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I picked up a little boy’s button-up shirt the other day at the used kid’s clothing store.
It was in great shape…..and only $3.50.
But I didn’t get it for my little boy.
I turned it into a top for my little girl.
I kept the length but slimmed it down………
 Added little button strips (made from the old cuffs) for the sleeves……..

 Attached belt loops to the sides……..
Made a quick coordinating tie that cinches it in, all the way around……..
 (Look at that GA humidity curling her hair.  Something great about humidity.  Haha!)
Then we threw on some leggings………..
 And she was set.  And fancy free.
And really, you could use this same concept to make one in an adult size.  For a few dollars, no more.

Would you like to make one for your little girl?  Or maybe for you?
Find a long sleeved boy’s/men’s button-up in your closet, at the thrift store, from your neighbor’s recycle bag……
But be sure that it’s a few sizes bigger, to give the shirt a longer length.  And if you can find one several sizes bigger, you can turn it into a dress and skip the leggings.  
(This shirt was a size 5….but I think Gymboree makes things a bit bigger, so it was more like a size 6.  And my little girl wears a size 4.  In case you were wondering.)
 This one is Gymboree brand, and was in great shape, had washed well, and the seams and such were even and straight.  It always helps to have a nicely constructed piece of clothing before altering.  Something to keep in mind……
First, I tried it on my little girl and placed pins at the shoulders, where the edge of her shoulders hit.  I added about 1/2 inch more for a seam allowance.
Then I placed a shirt that fit her, on top of the button-up, to get an idea of how big to make the arm hole opening.  Knit stretches and so you don’t need as big of an opening, so I actually made the curved opening a bit longer than that knit shirt. 
Try to follow the curve of the original shirt sleeve seam as you cut, where the sleeve attached to the shirt.  Stay an equal distance away from that seam until you curve it out to the point.  Then trim away a bit as you try and make a straight-ish line from the sleeve point, down to the bottom of the shirt.  (Try to keep as much of the width of the shirt as possible… don’t want to slim down the sides too much, making the shirt uncomfortable and tight.)
Then, cut the seam away from the sleeve’s inner edge, keeping the same curved shape to this part of the sleeve.
Then, measure how long you’ll need the sleeve to be where it attaches to the shirt.  It should be equal length, but be sure you’re measuring along the curve of each.  Then trim the shirt down along the bottom, cutting it more narrow as you cut towards the end of the sleeve.  Then trim off the end of the sleeve, leaving it as long as you think you’ll need it…….and leaving enough for it to be rolled up later on.
Do the same to both sleeves……
 Then turn the shirt inside out and sew along both sides…….leaving the arm holes open.
Then turn the sleeves inside out and sew them together along the long side edges.  Zig-zag each seam to keep them from fraying.
Then pin each sleeve to the shirt’s armhole opening, pinning right sides together, and matching the side seams.  (If it doesn’t match up, you may have to adjust your side seams just a bit.)
Then tuck the sleeve down into the shirt, out of the way.
Then sew all the way around the opening, removing pins as you go.
This is how it should look from the inside…
Then trim the curve of the sleeve, near where you just sewed, but right at the armpit, where the side seams of the shirt and sleeve meet.
Then, open up the shirt, with the outside of the shirt facing up, and slide under your sewing machine.  Fold over the raw edges underneath towards the shirt bodice (not toward the sleeve) and top-stitch all the way around the sleeve opening.  You can skip this step……but it just finishes the shirt off, and makes it look polished.
See how nicely it looks now?
Then fold under the bottom of each sleeve a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, then sew each hem into place.
Then try the shirt on your little girl and roll up each sleeve twice, to where it looks nice (right above the elbow).
Then grab the original cuff and open it up.  I used the cuff so that I wouldn’t have to re-make button holes.
I decided that I wanted the second button hole because of the straight edge on the end.  So I cut it out like a strip, leaving enough on each side to be able to fold it under.
And I did the same to both cuffs.  I also cut off the buttons because I would be needing those too.
Then I zig-zagged along both raw edges of both strips.
(Sorry, the pictures from here on out are really bleached out.  I didn’t realize it until too late.  Oops.)
Then I folded under each raw edge, just enough so that the button hole would still have an opening and then sewed each fold in place.
Then I attached each strip to the inside of each sleeve, with the raw edges facing up……..
… that when folded over, only the finished edge would show.  (You can find more info and pictures on how to attach these strips, here.  You can also use snaps instead of buttons if you follow that link too.)
Then I made a waist-tie by sewing some green fabric together into a tube, turning it right side out, and ironing it flat.  (Need help with sewing a tube?  Click here.)
 Then I tucked each end down inside of itself about a 1/2 inch, ironed it flat, then sewed it closed.
Then I cut one more little strip from the shirt scraps that was about an inch wide and about 4-5 inches long…..
Then I folded it in half lengthwise and ironed it flat.  Then I opened it up and folded each raw edge in towards that fold, folded it back in half, and ironed it again.  Then I sewed this shut.  (Sorry, the pic doesn’t help much.)
Then I cut this into two pieces, trimmed off the ends until it was the right length for my belt loop with some ends to tuck under.  Then I placed each belt loop along the side seams of the shirt, right where I thought looked right when the shirt was on my little girl (at the waist), then sewed along each end of the both belt loops.  (With the raw ends tucked under.)
Slide your waist tie into the belt loops, and place the shirt on your little girl.  
Or on you.  
Whoever you decided to make one for.
And enjoy your little creation.

Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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