Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing: Repurpose/Upcycle » Re-purposing: Women’s Long Sleeved Shirt into Short Sleeves……and a new friend!

Re-purposing: Women’s Long Sleeved Shirt into Short Sleeves……and a new friend!

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First of all, a new friend has decided to join me at my house.
A very soft spoken little friend, who doesn’t bring along any drama with her.
Ha! Okay, she’s not real……but I really do love having her around.
A Bernina Aurora 440.

 I have teamed up with Bernina and their sewing republic site.
So from now on, you’ll see this button on my sidebar, which will lead you right to their site.
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There, you will find great sewing ideas, helpful sewing tips, info on sewing machines, and great deals and such.  And if you decide to jump on in, I’m sure you’ll quickly begin to see what all the Bernina hype is about. 
I will be contributing to the project list on the Sewing Republic every once in awhile and will be sharing with you here, little things about this machine that I really love.
So if you’re on the fence about upgrading your machine, keep an eye out for little features that I love.
I can’t help but share them.  They are that fun.
Onto my newest re-purposed project…….and my first project on the Bernina.
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Sometimes a gal feels like she needs a new shirt
And sometimes the long sleeve length on a favorite shirt, shrinks a bit in the wash.  (It’s those long arms that are causing the problem. Ha!)
So, what happens next?
A long sleeved shirt turns into a brand new one.
One with shorter snapped-up sleeves…..and an added-on little pocket.
Nice and cool for this hot summer heat.

Do you have a long sleeved shirt you’d like to re-purpose?
Grab it out of the winter pile….
I started by cutting off my sleeves about 4 inches longer than I wanted them to end up.
Then I cut about 3/4 of an inch off of the remaining sleeve piece…..
And attached it to the inside of of the bottom of the newly cut off sleeve.
I lined up the seam of the sleeve and the seam of the little tube of fabric and pinned it all the way around the inside of the bottom of the sleeve.
I let the layer underneath peek out just a bit, just for looks.
Then I used the double-overlock stitch (shown by number 8)……
…..and sewed about 5/8 of an inch from the edge, making sure that I sewed through the 2 layers of knit.  Sewed like a dream…..with no pulling.
This double-overlock stitch really allows for a great stretch for your knits…….and added an almost serged look to the fabric.  So look to see if you have one on your machine.
Then from some of the scraps from the sleeves that I cut off, I cut two strips of fabric that were 1.5 x 6.5 inches.
I folded them in half lengthwise and sewed about 1/4 inch from the edge.  I left one end open and then created a V-shape at the other end.
Then I clipped around the end of the V (to reduce fabric bulk) and then poked the V down inside of itself (towards the inside of the tube)……..then stuck an un-sharpened pencil down in there to try and turn the tube right side out.  You could try using a knitting needle too.
Then I worked the fabric along until it turned the tube right side out.
Then I pressed the tube flat, with the seam along one side, then sewed all the way around the strip. 
(If you’re strip stretched at all after sewing it, measure again and trim off any extra.  I wanted mine to be about 6 inches long, so I had to trim just a bit.)
Then I measured 8 inches up from the end of the sleeve and marked it with the pin.  Make sure you mark opposite of the seam of the sleeve, that goes under the arm.  You want the strip of fabric and the snap to be placed on the side of your arm.  
(The placement of this pin will depend on how short/long you cut off your sleeve… try your shirt on and decide where you’d like your little strip to fold up and attach.  Remember, it will attach underneath and will snap on the outside, in about the same place.)
Then zig-zag the raw edge of that little strip and then pin it to the inside of the sleeve, right where the pin was.  (Place the end of the strip about 1/4 inch above the pin, just so that the strip won’t pull off after you’ve sewn it in place where the pin is.  Wow, does that make sense?)
Then open up the base of your sleeve and slide it under the needle and sew back and forth a few times, about a 1/4 inch from the top of the strip…..or right where your pin was placed.  Make sure to lay that section of the sleeve really flat as you’re sewing, so you don’t catch anything else under the needle as you’re attaching that strip of fabric.
Once it’s attached, it will look like this.  Do you see the little strip poking out?  But it doesn’t quite meet the end of the sleeve?
Then attached the backside of a snap to the inside of the sleeve, right below the seam where you attached your strip.  Make sure to poke it through the strip and the shirt……making it extra sturdy.
Then attach the top of the snap to the little pokies that are sticking through on the outside of the shirt…..
Then use the little attachment that came with the snaps……and hammer the pieces together.
Then do the same thing with the end of the strip…….making sure to put the “outtie” part of the snap facing the correct way on the end of the strip.  That way when it fold over, it will snap onto the “innie” part of the snap that’s on the sleeve.
At this point, I found my little monkey in his jammy shirt/diaper under my sewing table, reciting the B-E-R-N-I-N-A on the foot pedal.  He loves finding letters and can’t resist telling me that he found them. I guess the new foot pedal is fun for all of us.
Back to the shirt.
I then cut out a pocket shape out of the oversized cuff that I cut off from the original shirt……using the fold of the cuff as the top of the pocket.  If you don’t happen to have the same shirt (what are the odds?) then just fold over some of the scraps and cut out a pocket with the fold as the top of the pocket.  Make sure to make your pocket a 1/4 inch bigger on the sides and bottom, for a seam allowance.  (If it helps, cut out a pocket shape from paper first, and then cut around in on the fabric.)
Then fold over the sides and bottom a 1/4 inch, then iron in place.  Then sew 2 stitches about 1/2 inch from the top of the pocket.
Then try your shirt on and see where the pocket would look the best.  Try to pin it in place, take of the shirt, and add more pins as you adjust the pocket to make it even and balanced on the shirt.
Then sew the pocket in place along the sides and bottom edges.
And that’s it.  
Now throw on your new little shirt, snap your little sleeve strips in place, and step out the door with your new and breezier shirt on.
What a fantastic day.
And thanks Bernina, for helping to make this a successful project.
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!
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  1. Mamydziecko says:

    Looking for a fast and easy project to update your look? Just cut fringes out of the bottom of a tee, and then dip-dye or bleach the fringes to show them off.

  2. DenizatmCom says:

    Looking for a fast and easy project to update your look? Just cut fringes out of the bottom of a tee, and then dip-dye or bleach the fringes to show them off.

  3. michelle says:

    I am wondering how to do something similar but maybe a cap sleeve with a long sleeve sweatshirt.
    I think the cuff of the sweatshirt is too tight, not fun to slide up my arm like some types are… so I want to cut it off, but what to do with the unfinished edge? Since the cuff is too tight, I thought about cutting it off, making it half as wide, then turning that into a long rectangle, and sizing it for a finished edge on the short sleeve. Not sure how that would look. Or folding up the edge and sewing… I have a very old Singer (1964) and have not thought it out enough to cut.


  4. Her Latest Blog says:

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  5. Nathalie C. says:

    I just tried to make this and got overly ambitious by wanting to change the neckline too and it’s all gone wrong! It’s now sitting in the bin. Your top looks beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    tried it and mine looks nothing like yours…failed attempt. guess I'll stick to buying new ones. ugh!

  7. Kristi B says:

    OMG! You amaze me! Can you come live in my spare room and make cute crap for me and my soon-to-be daughter all day??

  8. Angel says:

    Just found your website and I have to say, I love it! Very inspirational, Thanks so much for sharing all of your awesome ideas :)

  9. Alison@howdoesshe says:

    YAY! I can leave comments. YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! Your tutorial is super cute, but I'm more excited about being able to leave comments and tell you how cool you are!
    You are cool BTW:)

  10. Bridgette@Picked Fresh Daily says:

    Wow, what a great idea! Off to my closet to dig up some tshirts!

  11. tomiannie says:

    Wow, I love that! I have several long-sleeve shirts that I have been trying to figure out how to make short-sleeve, and this is so cute!

  12. Jill says:

    Looks great! I have that stitch on my machine and love it too!!

  13. Colette says:

    such a cute shirt. I have a bernina too. Not as fancy as your's but I look forward to anything new you can teach me about bernina, I lvoe them!

  14. Antigone says:

    great idea! ı loved it ;)

  15. erin says:

    i am SO coming back to revisit this shortly!

  16. Cyn says:

    Bernina's are amazing! I have one on my In My Dreams List. Great shirt!

  17. Amanda says:

    I have been a Bernina fan for all my life (I have three)…and now a new fan of yours. Thanks for sharing your talents.

  18. Jami says:

    I LOVE this shirt. Can I please just buy it from you??

  19. Shasta says:

    You are seriously the most talented person ever–and I love it!! I can't wait to get home each day to see if you've posted something new for me to gawk over. You're the first blog I started following on here and you're the ONLY one I read on a daily basis. I want to thank you for getting me into sewing, because I'm having SO much fun!! I'm new to it, so this particular project is a little scary looking to me right now, but eventually I will get to where I can do it. Thanks again! You're awesome!!

  20. Lora says:

    I REALLY love your new friend!!!! Maybe your new friend could come visit my house sometime :)

  21. Alaina says:

    What a cute shirt!! I'm so jealous of your new machine as well! ;) I hope you enjoy it. :)

  22. Lynette @ My Craft Discovery says:

    I got a used Bernina a few weeks ago that had been a school model and I love it. It's the all mechanical machine, and I am in love! It works fabulously! I'm pretty sure I have that stitch too, and will have to use it with knits as well.

  23. Rachel D says:

    Congrats on the new machine! I just got a Bernina this year (430) and LOVE it. Love, love, love it. Thanks for telling us what stitch you used. I love seeing "setting" pics, particularly when people work with fabrics and techniques I'm not too familiar with. And with my machine being in the same family as yours, the settings will be even more helpful to me. :)

  24. Christa says:

    love love love it! I've been using my handy dandy #8 stitch on my bernina for a while on jersey. I just guessed that it looked right, not having a serger and dieing to try jersey. It's a comfort to know now I wasn't off my rocker. grabbing all my old long sleeve t's now!

  25. Young and Crafty says:

    Such a cute idea! I wish I had a sewing machine so that I could do cool stuff like that!


    Check out my new blog…

  26. Kristie says:

    Cute! Thanks for sharing this. I just bought a long sleeved shirt that I want to make into short sleeves. I'll have to give it a try.

  27. Leslie says:

    That shirt honestly looks like something you would purchase for 10 bucks at old navy! Rock on. What inspired you to get sewing?

  28. Kary Oz says:

    Fantastic machine!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  29. teedle. says:

    What a great idea! I too have long shirts that need some shortening.

  30. Leslie says:

    That shirt honestly looks like something you would purchase for 10 bucks at old navy! Rock on. What inspired you to get sewing?

  31. ellie g says:

    I got a new Bernina this spring. I love it. Like, I kind of treat it like my 3rd child. It's not quite that fancy….but it seems fancy….considering the fact that I WAS sewing on a Bernina from the early 1960's. Not kidding. I had been using my Mother's sewing machine for years. Having my own is kind of heavenly. And your shirt is darling. It looks like one I just bought. And I'm sure I could have made, for cheaper!

    Love Bernina….and you!!

  32. **Danielle** says:

    I have the perfect shirt to try this out on :) Will be taking this on…soon!!

  33. Nancy says:

    ok, I have the same machine and this morning I laid a long sleeved shirt on it and what did I see when I came back later???

    NOTHING!! How do you get your machine to do that?

  34. The Robinsons says:

    Love it! And love the pocket, too. Thanks for sharing!

  35. The Noalls says:

    Am I really the first comment?? Amazing! :) Cute as usual. I wish I had that stitch on my machine. I have so much trouble with my fabric pulling and bunching!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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