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

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
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Ashley Johnston

Owner 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 my 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!
Re-purposing: long sleeve shirt into short, with floppy bow shoulders
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  1. Bronwen Dias says:

    Hi Ashley
    Love the idea of upcycling my daughter’s clothes, nifty idea. Thank you. On a similar vein, I found your blog while looking for help in converting my husband’s long sleeve cotton shirts I short sleeves. My problem is there is to much material twhen turning the sleeve in. Do you have any suggestions how I get around this?

  2. paula deville says:

    Too Cute! And so creative.

  3. Jessica says:

    I really like your inventions, keep going and thank you for sharing them. Guatemala Central America

  4. Ellie says:

    As always, adorable and simple!!

  5. Mallory says:


    First of all, let me just say how AMAZING your site is. I just recently found your blog and have already made a few dresses and skirts for my little girl from your tutorials. I love how simple yet cute all of your ideas are. Being a full-time mother and nursing student, the simple part is especially important ; ) This t-shirt tutorial is yet another amazing idea that I’ll be tackling before school starts. Also, I must ask where you found those yellow shoes? They are beyond cute!

    Keep the great posts coming! :)

  6. Angela says:

    What a great idea! I have so many of these that I could have converted. Oh well, not too late to start I guess! Thanks for the innovation!

  7. Jenn says:

    Hi Ashley! I just wanted to let you know that, whatever you’re doing with your feed, it’s working. I’m still getting your posts in my inbox. Now, the photos NEVER showed up, even when I first started following you a while ago, but I didn’t mind. I just clicked on the headline in the email and it took me right to your blog so I could read the post.

    Basically, as long as I know that you’ve posted something and there’s a direct link in the email to where I can find it, I’m happy as a clam. (That’s actually a really odd expression, now that I think about it… why on earth would clams be happy?) Ack… off topic… sorry….

    Anyway, my own blog has been on hiatus for quite a while because I’ve been dealing with some health problems, but when it gets back up and running I’m DEFINITELY going to see if you’d be willing to let me pick your brain as far as how to get my posts delivered to people’s inboxes. When I stopped writing a while back, Feedburner was still going strong. I have no idea what to do what when I get started back up again! ACK!

    On a much more relevant note, I absolutely LOVE this little project!!! My daughter is a very “girly” girl, and she loves anything with little embellishments on them. In fact, I even bought a pair of leggings that were 100% covered in silver sequins because they were on clearance at Target for $1.49 or some ridiculousness like that… you can bet those sequined leggings are going to become special sparkly embellishments for my daughter’s clothes!!

    Question… do you ever have any guilt over cutting up clothing that someone else might possibly be able to wear if you were to donate it to Goodwill? Lately I’ve been cutting the tutus off my daughter’s too-small dresses so I can easily attach them to dressy shirts and make NEW dresses (or at least floofy tops to pair with leggings… it’s a shame to let that sparkly tulle go to waste!), but as I pick up my scissors, I always pause before I cut… I’m struck by this awful guilt… because, hey, some poor child who couldn’t afford to buy the dress when it was new might have been able to wear it if I hadn’t just chopped it in half.

    Then I get over it and just look forward to making something cute for my daughter. I’m just curious if this ever happens to you. I have NO issue cutting apart something ill-fitting, stained, or otherwise hideous to make something pretty and wearable out of it, but ruining a perfectly good dress just to use the tulle just bothers me a bit.

    Help me get over my tulle-chopping guilt, Ashley… PLEASE!! LOL

    Anyway, LOVE THE BOWS!!! Definitely going to make this. Perhaps I’ll even do one for my husband as a gag gift…. hehee….

    Have a great day!
    Smiles, Jenn

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Jenn, for letting me know about your feed. That’s weird about the images not showing up. In case you’re using gmail (which is what I use and how I know this) you have to click on “display images below” at the top of the email, and then all of the images included in that email will show up. If the email doesn’t have any images, that verbiage won’t show up. I think gmail does that so that emails will load faster. Hope that helps, in case you were wanting pictures from my or others’ emails. :)

      As for your daughter, she sounds like mine. The more frills and sparkle, the better! And I LOVE it!! :)

      And as for the guilt of cutting something up, yeah, I have thought that same thing before too. But then I realize that I’m saving money on our own budget and wasting less here in our own home……and then I keep cutting. :)

      Good luck with this project! :)

  8. Abiola says:

    Beautiful and super easy DIY.

    Going to try this myself, hope I would look half as cute as pretty Elli.



    1. Ashley says:

      You’ll look great Abiola!! :)

  9. Carrie says:

    Hi Ashley, I went to your site on my phone and noticed tons of pop ups….. I decided to check it out on my lap top and everything is back to “normal”… not sure if it was possibly just my phone or if you worked the bugs out between my visits. Love it!! XO

    1. Ashley says:

      Yeah, I’d like to say I magically fixed something…..but for some reason the ads on mobile devices are a little wonky. I have tried to fix some of those but haven’t quite figured that one out. The ads and sponsors on this site keep me blogging and make all of this work for me…..but I agree, the mobile ads needs some tweaking! Thanks!


  10. Jen Benjamin says:

    I am constantly impressed at all the projects you do. Even though I am well into my adult life – I want you to be my mom! :) Thank you for the inspiration and very easy to follow steps!

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha….how sweet are you! Thanks Jen!

  11. Rachel Henderson says:

    This is adorable! And where might I find some of those pants for my 3 little girls? They are so cute!

    1. Ashley says:

      I bought those at Target. They are pants but I rolled them into capri’s for her. :)

  12. Jenya says:

    Very clever and super cute :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Jenya!

  13. Donna Huisinga says:

    Very clever. I’m pinning this. what a cute model!

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks…..and she’s such a good sport with all these pictures! :)

  14. Kelly says:

    I LOVE this! What a great way to make clothing last longer! I am a total sale shopper, too, so buying things huge and saving them for . . . years . . . . ehem . . . yes, I’m also ill with that sickness. Thinking about seeking treatment, but hey, it’s working! :) Thanks for the GREAT idea!!!! It would be cute to make these bows out of fun fabric scraps and sew them on any long or short sleeve shirts to add a little fun as well! Thanks again!

    1. Ashley says:

      Well, Kelly…..we can be friends then, because I LOVE shopping and finding good deals! :) Wanna go shopping this weekend? Ha! ;)

      And yes, bows in other colors would be really cute too! :)


  15. Janelle says:

    I don’t like truncated posts at all. Even if they are picture heavy and I scroll right past them. And they are still showing up truncated in Feedly. :(

    1. Ashley says:

      Sorry about that. I’ve been trying to find a happy medium and after tweaking it for today, I was meaning for some images to show up. I have no idea why it didn’t work but will keep trying. Ack…! :)

    2. Sarah says:

      I hate truncated feeds in my reader. I’m way bummed because I’ve stopped following a lot of my favorite blogs due to truncated posts. I don’t want to sound self-important, but I’m a busy mom and I don’t have time to remember to click through to a blog to read the post. I’d rather read it in my reader, where all the rest of the blogs I follow display their entire feed. :(

  16. Nichole says:

    I’d prefer a little more. In Feedly it only got to the first paragraph “How is it showing…” It would be nice to at least have a picture of what the post is about.

    1. Ashley says:

      I totally agree. I should have mentioned that my intention was to include a few pictures but for some reason it didn’t work today when I thought it would. I’ll try again and see if I can get this worked out. Wish me some luck! :)

  17. Kristi says:

    I love how your blog is showing up in Feedly. It is truncated which is great since your posts are picture heavy. If the project looks like one I might be interested in, I click through. But since I am past the days of sewing for my little one (she’s 22 now! LOL!), I don’t worry about clicking on the children’s sewing projects. I hope that makes sense!

    1. Ashley says:

      That totally makes sense. Thanks for s your input. My intention is to include a few pictures but not the whole feed……but for some reason it didn’t work for me today. Boo. But a few pictures will be better than the whole post for then. Good to know! -Ashley

  18. jennifer says:

    CUTE! I might have to do this to some of my own shirts. And I love Ellie’s yellow shoes!

    1. Ashley says:

      I know, I love them too…..I wish i could find the exact same pair in my size. Jealous! :)

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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