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Re-purposing: Long Sleeve Shirt into Short, with Floppy Bow Shoulders

For those of you reading my posts in an email or RSS feed, I’m so sorry for all the craziness lately.  The feed was chopped, the pictures were removed, then a whole bunch of blog blurbs have been showing up.  Ack……what a pain!!!  With some help, I’ve been trying to iron it all out so that it works a little better.  How is it showing up today for you today?  Any better?  I’m just trying to make things work a little better for everyone and am tweaking some things……so I’d love to hear your feedback.  -Ashley :)

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I have been going through some of Elli’s old clothes and putting “too small” items in boxes and pulling out “too big” items that have been stored away and have been hanging them in her closet.  (Are any of you “sale shopping fans” like I am and will even buy sizes a couple years ahead, if it means that you’ll save a few bucks?  Yeah, it’s an illness!)  Well, I found several long sleeved shirts that she wore last winter but still fit her right now (even though the sleeves are millimeters away from being too short) but probably won’t last through this upcoming winter. 



I considered just packing them away for Chloe to use later on…..but remembered Elli didn’t have any grey Tshirts for school starting this month.  Not that she has to have a shirt in every color…….but having a grey shirt seems to be a staple.  Like having a white one.  Anyway, I chopped those little sleeves off and turned them into little floppy bows that now sit on her shoulders. 





Here’s the old “2-seconds-away-from-being-too-short-in-the-sleeves” shirt……..aaaaaaand the transformation.





It’ll work great for a few months.  And who knows, maybe it will still fit next spring.  It wasn’t the shirt length that was the problem… was those darn sleeves. :)





 This little chickie is growing so fast……and those long string bean arms and legs are becoming hard to keep up with.  I guess chopping off the sleeves works while it’s warm! :)





This transformation was simple and pretty quick.  Glad we were able to squeeze a little extra time out of that shirt.




Do you have long-sleeve shirts you want to extend the life of??


First of all, grab an old long-sleeved knit shirt.  (Knit doesn’t fray…..that’s why we’re going with a knit Tshirt.)


Cut off the sleeves, right next to the shoulder seam, all the way around the sleeve.  And that’s how we’ll leave that shirt opening; raw.




With the sleeve scrap, cut it open right along the seam that runs all the way up the arm.  Cut off the ends and the tapered sides of the sleeve, to create an even rectangle.  Just be sure to leave enough of a scrap to make the center section of the bow. (Also, the size of rectangle you cut will determine how big/small your bow is… play around with it.  I just used the whole scrap…..but all sleeves are different sizes.)




Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise (with right sides together) and sewed the two side edges together, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I also increased the seam allowance to almost the longest it would go, simple because sewing longer stitches is easier in knit and this seam is only to hold the fabric together…’s not for strength at all.




Turn the tube right side out and line up the seam along the center of the side facing up.




Then, fold over the two ends, overlapping them by about a 1/2 inch.  Then sew a seam right down the middle, securing all layers together.




With the other scraps, cut a smaller rectangle that’s wide enough to fold under the two sides and then long enough wrap around the center of the bow.  (Again, the size of this center strip depends on your bow size…….so play around with it and see what looks proportional.)  Pin the sides under with pins, to help hold them in place.




Grab the bow section and pinch the center in tight, right where the seam was.




Then, wrap the folded strip piece around the center of the bow (removing the pins as you do so), with the folds tucked under and against the bow.


Then, slide the ends of the strip under the sewing machine and sew them together.




Now, your bow will stay cinched in.




Trim off the excess ends of the center strip…




Attach the bow to the shoulders, using a needle and thread.  (I just sewed the center section of the bow down to the shoulder of the shirt.)




Then, tack the tips of the bow down to the shirt with a needle and thread, to help keep them in place as well.  (Need help with hand sewing?)




And that’s it.  Long sleeves into short…..with big floppy bows!!





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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