How to Make a Blouse With Frills Out of an Old Men's Dress Shirt

Alicia Yanson
by Alicia Yanson
10 Materials
3 Hours

Today, I'll show you how to make a blouse with frills out of an old men's shirt. I found some inspiration from a fashion brand and recreated this look by upcycling a men’s dress shirt that I thrifted. Want to see how I make this ruffle-trim blouse? Let’s begin!

Tools and materials:

  • Old men’s shirt
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Fitted t-shirt
Ruffle-trim blouse inspiration

Thrifted men's dress shirt

Seam ripping the shirt

1. Disassemble the shirt

Seam rip the collar and the cuffs, then remove the buttons on the sleeve and the pocket. 

Cropping the shirt

2. Crop the shirt

Shorten the shirt to your desired length. Ensure you have enough leftover fabric to make the ruffles later. 

Making collar alterations

3. Make collar alterations

Draw a line just before the button and buttonhole and shorten the collar by ¾“. I realized if I left it at the original length, the ruffles would be too high. 

Measuring and marking the collar

Connect the marking two inches below the collar to make two tiny triangles. 

Cutting off the excess fabric

Cut ¼” before the marking and cut off the excess fabric. 

Sewing the raw edges

Fold both raw edges inside and pin, then sew.

Pressing the edges

Iron the edges of the collar in by ¼”. 

Making neckties for the blouse

4. Make and attach the neckties

Cut a 1-inch strip from the remaining collar. Since there are two layers, it’ll give you two long rectangles. 

Folding the neckties

Fold the edges to the center and fold the whole strip in half. 

Sewing the neckties

Sew it down close to the opening. Now you have two little ties. 

Sandwiching the ties between the collar pieces

Turn the collar down so that the tie is sandwiched between the collar. 

Sewing the ties to the collar

Sew where the marking is. 

Sewing the opening closed

When you flip it back, the tie is secure between the two layers. Now, tuck in the remaining fabric and sew the opening closed. 

Sewn neckties

Repeat on the other side. Now, the neckline is complete! 

Cutting off the shirt sleeves

5. Take in the bodice

Cut off the sleeves right before the seam. 

Tracing a well-fitting t-shirt

Place a well-fitting top on the shirt and trace the shape. Ensure the armholes are smaller than the original so that the sleeves will also ruffle. 

How to take in a shirt

While cutting, curve the sides to make them more form-fitting. 

Measuring darts

Make darts to add more shape to the button-down ruffle shirt. Mine measures 1.5” below the armhole, 5.5 inches long, 1 inch high, and the tip starts at the second button. 

Pinning the darts

Flip the shirt inside out, pinch the dart, and pin it. Now, sew. When you reach the end, don't backstitch. Leave enough thread to tie two knots at the end. 

Sewing the side seams

6. Sew the side seams

Sew the side seams with the shirt’s right sides touching. 

Pulling the thread to gather the sleeves

7. Ruffle the sleeves

Sew a long basting stitch around the sleeves’ top edge and pull on one of the threads to gather the fabric until they fit the armhole.

Attaching the sleeves

8. Attach the sleeve

Flip the shirt inside out and insert the sleeve so that the right sides touch.

Pinning the sleeves to the shirt

Add many pins as possible to secure the ruffles and sew. 

Tip: You can sew over the pins if they are pinned vertically. This also helps keep the ruffles in place. 

Hemming the bottom of the blouse

9. Hem the bottom

Hem the bottom of the blouse by folding the edges twice. 

Ruffle pieces

10. Make and attach the ruffles

You’ll need various strips of fabric; 

  • One collar ruffle piece measuring 2.5” x 26”
  • Two sleeve ruffles measuring 2” x 22”
  • Two sleeve ruffles & encasing measuring 3” x 15”
  • Two sleeve ties measuring 1” X 22”
Sewing the ruffles

Hems on two short sides and one long side. Do this with a rolled hem (folded twice), and sew. 

Sewing basting stitches on the ruffles

For the collar and sleeve ruffles, sew a basting stitch at ½” where the non-hem side is. 

Gathering the ruffles

Start creating the ruffles. 

Adding ruffles to the collar

Insert it at the opening of the collar until it reaches the end. Sew at the edge of the collar to secure it. 

Adding ruffles to the sleeves

Repeat the same process for the sleeve ruffles. 

Making sleeve ties

11. Make the sleeve ties

Fold the small edge down first, and fold it twice to create a thin rectangle. 

Pinning and sewing the sleeve ties

Pin and sew to secure. 

Sewing basting stitches on the sleeve frills

12. Finish the sleeve frills

For the second sleeve ruffle, sew two basting stitches. One at ¼” and the second at 1”. 

Sewn and gathered ruffle

This should be ruffled just a bit, enough to fit around the sleeve. 

Pinning the ruffle

Mark 1.5” below the cuff of the sleeve and pin the ruffle on that marking. Sew on the ruffle where the first basting stitch is. 

Sewing the ruffle to the cuff

Fold it up, and sew at the second basting stitch. This will create a little encasing to put in the sleeve ties. 

Guiding the ribbon through the casing

Use a safety pin to guide the ribbon through the casing.

Tying a bow on the end of the sleeves

Make a little bow to finish off the sleeves. 

DIY ruffle-trim blouse

Cute frilly blouse

How to make a blouse with frills

How to make a blouse with frills

Here’s the final transformation! What do you think of this elegant blouse with frills? The detail is exquisite, and no one would ever know this was once a recycled men’s shirt!

Suggested materials:
  • Old men’s shirt
  • Ruler
  • Marker
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation