Linen Shirt Makeover – From Dull to Dazzling in Under 1 Hour

I have a big pile of clothes in my sewing room that is waiting to be altered, repaired, or refashioned. I’m embarrassed to say that some items have been in that pile for well over a year (or even two)!

Most of the items are pieces I really love that just need a few tweaks to make them ready to wear, but others like this shirt, are a shopping mistake that just sit on the pile just taunting me with its blandness.

I bought this beige linen button down shirt at Uniqlo a few years ago, along with a matching blue one to wear to Dubai. They both fit really well, but unlike the blue shirt, which I’ve worn holes through because I love it so much, this beige one just collected dust in my wardrobe.

Why? The colour is just so beige. I thought I’d wear it heaps, I mean how can you go wrong with a neutral linen? But it drained all the colour from my skin and made me feel so dull while wearing it.

I had it in a pile earmarked for an indigo dye pot, but while tidying up my craft room this week, I found some fabric paint left over from another project, and had an idea – A painterly shirt makeover!

If you’ve got a boring old shirt that doesn’t get much wear, try brightening it up with some bold graphic designs in your favourite colours. This shirt makeover took me under one hour from start to finish.


Kind of a boring beige shirt. I like the cut and the fit, but the bland colour just made me look blah and really sallow – I hated wearing it.

Shirt Makeover – from Boring to Banging in a few Brushstrokes

You will need:

How to:

1. If you are using a new shirt, pre-wash (without fabric softener) and dry it before you start painting. Many new garments have a residue on the fabric which can prevent the paint from adhering properly.

2. Slip your cardboard sheet between the front and back of the shirt to prevent any paint from seeping through to areas you want to keep unpainted.

3. Mix up your fabric paint colours – I went for a combination of brights, but one or two colours can work just as well.

3. Start with a few brushstrokes. I just went for a random pattern without much planning. If your paint is a little thick, thin it down with a small amount of water. I painted the front panels, collar and cuffs.

4. For a softer more painterly, watercolour effect, I used a wet brush to smudge the damp paint into the fabric.

5. The design still felt a bit flat, so I punched it up a bit with some graphic polka dots in a darker teal. The overlapping patterns adds a more textured visual element.

6. Allow to dry as per paint manufacturers instructions. Some paints require heat setting which can be done with an iron. The paint I used only required 72 hours of setting time before washing (I ironed it anyway for good measure).

This paint still feels a little stiff once dried but I’m hoping it will soften and fade into the linen fabric after a few washes and wears.

All done! What do you think of the shirt makeover? It certainly is much more cheerful than before and is a lot more fun to wear too!

I took a few model-style photos just for fun. I’m trying to get over my aversion of being in front of the camera, so here are the results of my self-portrait session.

How cute are the earrings? They make the yellow in the shirt really pop! I picked them up on sale ages ago (I can’t remember where) but here is a similar pair on Etsy if you are after the same look – Yellow beaded tassel earrings .

Looking for more ways to makeover an old shirt? You may enjoy these posts:

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2 of 6 comments
  • Mindy10 Mindy10 on Aug 26, 2021

    Very, very cute. Nice!

  • Melissa Melissa on Mar 28, 2023

    I have twin beige linen I have worn twice. I will have to try something like yours. I especially like that you left the sleeves blank.