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Turn Long Sleeves to Short {with added Bow Front}


Be sure to check out my very last review and giveaway from Best Buy, the Epione Beauty Brush.  This little gadget is a cordless facial/body brush that gently scrubs away makeup and other impurities. It also “massages the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”  Not bad in my book!

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I know, I know……it’s only February.  And not anywhere near spring for many of us.  But for some of you, spring is fast approaching.  (Hello old friends in GA!!….I remember being there last February and it was perfectly warm.)  We had one warm day this last week here in CO, so it was kind of a tease.  (But then it snowed again.)  So I am kind of daydreaming about more color, flower blooms, bike rides, spinn-y spring dresses and skirts……and oh, tulips.  I can’t wait until those little beauties start blooming. 


So, I had an itch to start transforming the winter wardrobe into a cooler one.


And that includes chopping off the long sleeves and turning them into short sleeves. 





However, when my daughter saw me chopping up her pink shirt, she asked me what I was doing, in a “what-in-the-stinkin’-world-are-you-doing-to-my-favorite-pink-shirt,-crazy-lady?” kind of way.  Ooops, I guess she is getting old enough to care about her stuff.  And knows when a shirt has long sleeves one day, and then they’re gone the next day.  Eeeek!  She’s my oldest.  I have lots to learn. 


So, I quickly explained that I was really going to fancy up this ‘ol boring shirt.  And that she should hang on for just a second while I showed her the “new & improved” one.  I held up the finished product and luckily, that cranky scowl turned into a curious one.  She studied it for a moment and then finally squealed, “ooooh, I like all of those bows mommy!” 


Whew.  Safe this time.  I guess I’ll have to re-think hacking away at her clothes next time.  (Good thing I still have 2 others who could care less what I do to their clothes.)




Anyway, I’m sure you have several long-sleeved shirts that still fit your little kiddos in length, but need a little chopping for spring, right?  Just be sure to hang onto that fabric from the sleeves………and then turn them into bows for the front.  Even more spring-y, right?




Keep in mind, this would be just as cute on a shirt in your own size too

Do you have a long sleeved shirt you’re just kinda tired of anyway?  Go on, chop it up.





And if you’re a beginner, this one is a good one to try.  It’s just cutting and simple bows.  And nothing fancy or hemmed.  Remember, raw edges of knit fabric can be left alone.  Oh, and I also added some shirring to cinch in the sleeves a bit.  (No worries, here’s a tutorial for that.)





Yeah, I’m getting more and more ready for spring.  And so is this little 5 year old of mine.  She keeps asking to ride her bike……and when I let her, she gets frustrated with the old crusty piles of snow in the way.  Grrrr.  Soon enough, I tell her.


Until then, we’re slowly getting ready. 


Watch out winter long-sleeves………we’re tired of you!  (Just be sure to ask permission to cut them up first!)




**If you’re worried about the bows getting crumpled after washing/drying, skip the dryer and lay flat to dry (and then pat the bows flat).  Otherwise, if they come out crumpled in the dryer, a quick steam under the iron will get them right back into place.  But if you don’t want to trouble yourself with either of those two methods, tack down each corner of each bow with a few stitches on your sewing machine (like a narrow zig-zag stitch with zero stitch length).  That will keep them in place.**




Oh, you remember I have chopped off sleeves in the past?  Good memory.  In case you need a quick link, click on any of the images below.

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Anyway, back to the present. 


Would you like to give the bow front shirt (shown above) a try?


 Okay, let’s get started.


Surely you have an old long-sleeve shirt or two that still fit your kiddo in length.  Oh wait, you don’t?  Hurry and grab some on clearance at the store.  Most stores are trying to get rid of them right now to make room for their spring line.  (Or if you want to make one for yourself but don’t want to cut up any of your favorite long-sleeve shirts……grab a clearance long-sleeve shirt at the store for yourself.)



Then chop those sleeves off.  (HINT: I always cut upwards at an angle.  It makes a nice looking short sleeve, rather than an awkward length sleeve.)  And remember, no need to hem these sleeves because they won’t fray.  But if the raw look makes you crazy……I have finished off sleeves in the past.)



Then, add a few rows of shirring stitches to the outer part of each sleeve.  (Need help with shirring?  Click here.)



Now, a nice short sleeve shirt.  Ready for some more love.



Cut along the inner seam of each sleeve, to open it up.



Then cut little rectangles for your main bow shape.



Then pinch those little rectangles in the center to cinch them into a bow shape.  Then cut a little strip out of the same fabric and wrap it around the middle.  Now, you can hand stitch these centers in place or slide them under the sewing machine needle.  The sewing machine is quicker but leave your ends a little longer to make it easier to machine sew and then trim the ends off.



Then turn your bow over and pat it flat.  And now make many more.  The number you used is up to you.  I made and used 12 bows.


Then, pin them onto your shirt.  You can arrange them around the neckline or have them cascading down one shoulder and side of the shirt.  It’s up to you.


Then sew each bow in place, sewing along the sides of each center strip.  (While sewing the bows to the shirt, it helps to increase your stitch length on your sewing machine.  This will help jump over a bit more fabric at a time, instead of pulling so much.)  Then I always press/steam things like this just slightly.  It gives it more of a store-bought look to it.



And that’s it. 


Now, I need to whip up a little spring skirt to go with this. 




Hmmmmm…..I may be in denial that it’s still winter.




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This post is sponsored by:

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. Rachel @ says:

    I love this shirt and tutorial! I wanted you to know that I also saw this tutorial on Pinterest and recognized your daughter… but it was not your site! Just thought that you should know. Here is the original pin I saw.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. corinthia says:

    A must try…very neat idea…I’m going to try one for myself

  4. amy says:

    I just made a pair of leggings (using your tut) for a granddaughter and was making a plain tank to go with them.. now I have a cuter way to incorporate the extra fabric from upcycled tank….there was not enough for a ruffly bottom edge. thanks!! I will post back with my post of the finished do’s.thanks again!

  5. Jessica says:

    So clever! This is really cute, & I have some shirt that were just donated to my daughter that are a bit too big. Craft time!

  6. Victoria says:

    This is such a great idea! Just wondering if you have to hem the sleeves?

  7. Sandye says:

    This is darling! My girls arms always seem longer than their sleeves about this time of year and by now the long sleeve shirts have a stain or two down the front–this revamp could cure both of those issues! Thanks so much for sharing! Off to go digging through their dresser! :)

  8. Angeles says:

    What a cute idea! You are so talented. I think I have to try it with one of my own t-shirts. Doing this will surely bring new live to an old shirt. You have inspired me so I am going to follow you. This is my blog address.

  9. Verónica says:

    Hermosisimo! I love reading your blog and adapting your ideas to my two little princess. I’ve done many! (By, the way, I’m from Argentina; sorry for my poor english)

  10. Liesel says:

    I had just cut off the long sleeves on my shirt to do something with them on the front and saw this post before i did something way less cute. Thanks for the idea just when I needed it!!

  11. Donna, Life Coach says:

    She looks like a pink flower attacked by a bunch of butterflies in that shirt :) Lovely!

  12. Lynette says:

    I absolutely love this shirt. I just may have to make one of these for me! :)

  13. Justine {Stop Me if You've Heard This One} says:

    This is completely adorable. Such a great idea!

  14. Papgena says:

    This is sooooo great!! I’ll do it and my daughter will go to the top of the moon!!! :)
    And I maybe do it for me too!
    Thanks so much for sharing it!!

  15. Eileen says:

    I have 2 boys, 12 and 15, and I thank heaven daily for this, however, seeing your little girl in this precious shirt, makes even me, who wears a baseball hat whenever I can get away with it, wistful.

    I love your posts, even with this project (which seems foreboding to me) I feel like if I really has the inclination I could make it! <3

  16. Katrine says:

    This is so cute! The bows and your little girl are so sweet!

  17. Janice Reporas says:

    wow! a very good idea. a simple long sleeve turn out to a fabulous pink shirt . I’ll surely try this one too. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Jennifer Dancy says:

    YEAH! Now I know what I want to sew tonight! (Hubs is going to a Crab Feed so I get the night off!)
    Oh – and could your model be any cuter? Seriously? I wish my daughter would let me (1) take her picture or (2) smile or (3) let me comb her hair!!!! These little ones can be so stubborn! I hope yours is secretly really difficult, because she looks like an angel!

  19. Melissa says:

    Love it! You have such great ideas!

  20. dawn says:

    this is so cute! my 6 yr old will love it and i just discoverd a hole in the sleeve of one of her long sleeve shirts-i was thinking of making it a shirt sleeve shirt!

  21. Stephanie says:

    Girl, have I ever told you how much you ROCK? I “sew” admire your talents and thank you for sharing your ideas. Totally trying this!

  22. Jen says:

    Great Idea! I love it!

  23. Olga says:

    Cute for a girl’s shirt! Not so much for boys though ;(

  24. Nimisha says:

    Love this….infect I love all your transformations…..I have tried several of them for my little girl.
    Any ideas for reusing/repurposing tees and tops that are not long enough but fit otherwise?

  25. Taylor says:

    Lovely! Blessings!

  26. Angie Ward says:

    so cute

    1. Anonymous says:

      Agreed, and the pictures are wonderful too! i absolutely love all the bows!

  27. Sami says:

    Just adorable! I was just wondering this morning as I hung one of my white t-shirts to dry what I could use to cover up some fruit stains….now I know, I will cover them with some bows!

  28. Ashley says:

    LOVE THIS! Definitely making an adult-size one for me!

  29. star says:

    The bows are so fun! I might have to try making just the bows and putting them on a headband! I’m all into making hair accessories lately! Anyway, I’m off to make some bows!

    1. star says:

      Oh, I have a question—

      I read this tutorial and thought the bows were really cute, so I wanted to make some bows. I am going to a home school convention and I’m planning on selling lots of the stuff I make. Here’s my question: Can I sell these bows there? I know you said that we can’t sell the stuff we make from what you showed us to do. So, I am just wondering…I didn’t make the shirt, so it’s not just like this. I won’t sell them if you don’t want me to. Thanks!!

  30. Evgenia says:

    Great idea, fantastic photos!

  31. sharon k says:

    This is fantastic! I love the bows, a great way to use the sleeves!

  32. anacleta says:

    Ah, so sweet, I love it.

  33. Patty says:

    I like it so much better short sleeve with the bows! So clever and just super cute!!! I will have to keep this in mind :-D

  34. Emily says:

    The bows are so fun!!

  35. Shas says:

    Love the shirt and the bows… Sooo cute!!

  36. delia says:

    So pretty. I like the shirred sleeve detail very much! If you don’t want the bows to curl up you could also not put it in the dryer. Just lay flat to dry.

  37. Jenn says:

    LOVE IT!!! I have two shirts that you just gave me inspirition for!

  38. grace says:

    that is so cute! and i LOVE her jeggings!!

  39. melany says:

    Adorable! I love the layered look of all the little bows! Jersey’s the best material, you never have to finish the edges, so nice and easy. And those pics of your daughter are adorable as well!

  40. Tracy says:

    One of my favorites as of late!

  41. dannyscotland says:

    This is so cute! My three-year-old is very attached to her things, and I can’t mess with anything without asking. Once, at dinner, I finished her mashed potatoes, which she didn’t want and won’t eat, and she burst into tears because I didn’t ask her first.

    1. Anonymous says:

      She’s raising you well.

  42. The Missus says:

    Last night I told my 3 year old that we have a surprise for her tomorrow, and asked her if she could guess what it was. Her eyes got huge, and she exclaimed, “It’s going to be SPRING?!” So, I think we can relate to your cabin fever.. :)

    I love the bows! I think I’ll have to take your advice on trying it on one of my shirts, too!

  43. Adventures in Dressmaking says:

    Adorable!! And such great photos. All the bows look so perfect!

  44. rosanna says:

    TOTALLY in LOVE with the little bows!!

  45. Allison A says:

    Love this idea! So simple and So cute!

  46. Brenda Kingston says:

    So stinking cute! I have to get my DIL to give me her daughters long sleeved shirts so I can do this.

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

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