Dress from Man Shirts

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Turn TWO Man Shirts into a gorgeous Dress

I’m in this upcycle sewing group called “upcycle clothes collective” on facebook and the other week someone posted a dress made from 2 man shirts that I found interesting.

To be precise, the dress can be made from one man’s button up shirt but to add some contrast it’s better to use the sleeves from one shirt and the body from a different colour shirt – as you can see in my example.

The dress (or long shirt – depending on the length of the shirt in the end) that was posted was very simply made.  I wanted to add some more details and also give it a better finish.

Therefore, I will give you the instructions that Rhonda gave us on fb (Bulletpoints 1-8) and add what I did instead or in addition. I did take photos from my project, so I hope that helps with the instructions.

  1. Remove sleeves from both shirts, cutting them so that the seam remains with the sleeve (so you can leave it this way and don’t have to make a new hem) and the raw edge is on the body of the shirt. Remove pockets if there are any on the shirt. (You can use the pockets later again to put on the dress if you want to)

I gave my sleeves a new hem to fit the length of the dress because they looked too long for my taste – but that was later on

I did remove the collar and as I wanted the buttons in the back, I had to open the back a bit to get a front neckline. As the shirt I used was much longer on the side with the buttons than on the other side, I hade to change where the shoulder would be and mark the new shoulder… I did adjust this a second time, after I cut the neckline deeper.

  1. Lay the shirt you are using for the body flat and measure from the collar seam straight across the folded top edge, using your first measurement (A). Mark a straight line from that point to the bottom hem. Rhonda put the end of her line very close to the side seam to give more fullness, but you can adjust to your preference. Cut both sides.


In my case, I opened up the lower part of the side seam so I would keep the nice curved edge at the bottom and then cut the rest open. This way I could lay the whole dress (front and back) flat onto my table. I used no shoulder measurements, I did use a dress pattern that I made to my fit about 20 years ago, when I started to teach myself sewing. You can also mark the shoulder when trying it on yourself or on your dressmaker mannequin. As I’m pregnant at the moment, I can’t really take accurate measurements from my body…

I also marked where the shoulder seam would normally be. Further I marked on the front and back where my waistline would be (if I didn’t have such a big belly) to help me later with pleads.

I gave the front part of the dress (which is the part without buttons) a bust dart that I also had to adjust again, as my breasts are much bigger at the moment and will be for as long as I will be breastfeeding. As I intend to use this dress during nursing, I had to make it fit the larger bust.


  1. With the sleeves of the contrast shirt, cut the seam up to and through the cuff. Measuring from the edge closest to the buttons, use your (C) measurement to trim the cuff band to that width. You can trim off the excess sleeve either straight down or preserving the angle of the sleeve. Cutting it out at an angle gives more fullness.


I didn’t trim the sleeve just yet, as I wanted to adjust the length to fit the dress.


  1. With the pieces you trimmed from the sleeves, cut a 1″ wide piece that is 2x the (B) measurement, plus 2″. You may have to piece it to get a strip long enough but that’s fine. Fold in half lengthwise and press.


I made a bias tape with other leftovers from the shirt (see tutorial on how to make Bias Tape).


  1. From the fold at the top of the shoulder, measure down using your (B) measurement. Mark this point on the front and back of the shirt on both sides.


Did the same here. Then I pinned the sleeve in, marked where they should end and then trimmed and hemmed them. To get a really nice round hem on the bottom, pin and iron the edge where the hem should end first, then cut, so only 8-10mm are left, fold in again, pin and iron, then sew along the edge.


Then I used this bias tape around the neckline and around the shoulder before I put the sleeves in on the sides. (Tutorial on how to make a bias binding or bias tape)


  1. Place the top of the cuff at this mark front and back on the body of the shirt and pin. Do this on both sides. Stitch from top of cuff down to hemline on both sides. Test for fit and adjust at this point.


  1. With the binding strip you made, overlap the end of it 1/2″ or so over the seam where the cuff is attached. Stitch it around the armhole until you reach the opposite side of the cuff, overlap a bit again and trim the end.

I did that between 5./6. – before I put the sleeve in.


  1. Beginning at the hem, overlock or zigzag up the side seam, around the armhole and back down the side seam. Turn the seam allowance towards the body of the shirt and topstitch. DONE

For a better fit I gave my dress some pleads in the back and put a quilting seam over them in waist hight. I will probably put some darts or pleads in the front as well but as I’m heavily pregnant at the moment, that will have to wait until I fit into it again. For now the front has to be wide to accompany my belly.

As the sleeves I used where made for cufflinks and therefore did not have any buttons, I made a “button cufflink as shown in the picture.


I really hope I can use the dress during nursing by opening the sleeves on the side. I will have to wait and see if it works though. As soon as I know this works as a nursing dress, I will definitely make another one. I could also use the button row in the front, then I have breast feeding access for sure 😉

This mix of instructions might be a bit confusing. I hope the pictures help but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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But you also reach me on facebook where I created a group for my Refashion and Upcycling projects: tinapoelzlRefashion

All the Best, Tina