How to Sew a Cute Summer Top Out of an Old Gingham Shirt

6 Materials
30 Minutes

In this DIY, I’m going to show you how to sew a summer top. We’ll be upcycling a thrifted item to make this crop top. Let's get started.

Tools and materials:

  • Shirt
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Elastic
  • Sewing machine
  • White ribbon
Gingham shirt before the thrift flip

Here’s the shirt I’m starting out with, and I bought it because of the material; I really like this black and white gingham print. The shirt also fits me nicely.

A top thrift tip of mine is to look for prints and fabrics that you like instead of the perfect piece. You can always make alterations and turn the piece into something that you really love.

Sketch of the DIY gingham crop top

My idea for the new top is a square neckline with elastic edges for a ruffled, playful look.

I tentatively designed the sleeves depending on the amount of fabric I had leftover, but I knew no matter what, I wanted ties to be added on the sides of them.

The back is going to be the same as the front with a square, elastic neckline.

Removing the pocket from the shirt

1. Remove the pocket

First things first, if your shirt has a pocket like mine does then you need to seam rip that off of the front.

Cutting the gingham shirt

2. Cut

Once that’s done, you can create your square neckline, cutting through the front and the back.

Cutting slits on the corners

3. Cut slits

Next, cut slits on each corner to provide some room to fold the fabric over the elastic that you’re going to add to the top.

Adding elastic to the gingham top

4. Add elastic

Cut the elastic to size; you want to place it around each section of the square neckline on the front and back (so you’ll need six pieces in total).

When you sew the elastic to the top, be sure to pull on it and stretch it out so when the stitch is all done, it will snap back and create the ruffles that we want.

Easy summer tops to sew

Here’s what that looks like all done.

Removing cuffs from the sleeves

5. Remove the cuffs

Now for the sleeves, cut off the original cuffs and save them for later.

DIY summer tops

6. Cut and sew the sleeves

Cut a slit right up the middle of each sleeve. Then double-fold under each of the new raw edges that you just cut and stitch them down.

After that, do the same to the bottom of the sleeves, sewing all the way around.

Adding buttonholes to the gingham top

7. Add buttonholes

Once those edges are finished off nicely, add two buttonholes to each side vertically.

Lacing white ribbon through the sleeves

8. Add ribbon

Next, lace some white ribbon through and tie a little bow on each sleeve.

Sewing the cuff to make a matching choker

9. Sew the cuff to make a choker

I decided to use one of the leftover cuffs to make a choker to go with the top. To do this, start by seam ripping the topstitch that encases the raw edges.

Once you’ve done that, you can trim the raw edge just below the stitch line, so when you stitch it back down, all the raw edges will be encased on the inside.

Matching a matching choker

10. Cut and sew edges

Cut off the pointed end of the cuff and separate the seams just enough on those ends to fold them back in towards the inside to stitch that back down, making a new squared-off end to match the other one.

Seam ripping the button off

11. Add buttonholes

Seam rip the button off and add two buttonholes to each end which you will then lace ribbon through and tie a bow.

DIY gingham crop top

How to sew a summer top

Here’s how the top and choker turned out - I’m really happy with the finished look. The bow details on the sleeves look really cute, and the choker is the perfect matching accessory.

Summer top sewing tutorial

The elasticated neckline also means that you have the option of wearing the top either on or off your shoulders.

How to sew a summer top

This shirt-to-summer top DIY was a really fun sewing transformation to do; I hope you’ll give it a try!

Suggested materials:
  • Shirt
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
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