How to Easily Turn an Oversized Men's Shirt Into a Pretty Dress

Kamille Alcantara
by Kamille Alcantara
10 Materials
3 Hours

Come and thrift flip a men’s shirt into a dress with me! When you see the results, you’ll be pretty amazed. I managed to use most of the fabric from the shirt and transformed it into a sexy little number.

So, bring out your sewing machine, and let’s convert a shirt into a dress together!

Tools and materials:

  • Oversized men’s shirt
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Measuring tape
  • 1” elastic
  • Matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Ruler 
  • Marker
  • Safety pin
DIY dress pattern

DIY dress pattern with measurements

1. General outline and measurements

So, before we begin, I've drawn out the general outline of how I’d like my skirt to be based on my bust, waist, and dress length measurements. Remember to add seam allowance where needed.

Regarding the straps of the dress (and the length), you can add more seam allowance depending on your preference. 

Taking apart the shirt

2. Make the top pattern

To convert a shirt into a dress, we must first take the shirt apart. Start by removing the pockets, cutting off the sleeves, and cutting the upper part of the polo (a few inches below the collar).

Making the top pattern

Measure and cut out the top front and back pieces according to the pattern. First, measure the length of the bodice (mine is 10.5inches).

Measuring the bust and waist

Next, measure and mark the bust and waist at the top and bottom.

Cutting out the top pattern

Connect the top and bottom marks with a ruler and cut the sides accordingly. 

Sewing the front to the back

3. Sew the top section

Place the front and back pieces right sides facing, pin the sides, and sew.

Pinning the top edge with a double fold

Pin the top edge with a double fold, but don't sew it yet.

Cutting out strips for the straps

4. Make the straps

Cut four strips measuring 20” x 3.5” from the sleeve fabric. 

Folding the straps and pinning

Fold each strap horizontally and pin the raw edges. 

Sewing the straps

Sew to secure. Also, sew one of the short ends. 

Turning the straps to the right side

Use a long stick or pencil to turn the strap to the right side. 

Finding the center of the top front

5. Attach the straps

Get the top piece and find its center. 

Measuring the strap placement

Measure the distance you want between the straps (mine is 8”), keeping the center of the bodice in the middle of the measurement. Mark the sides with pins. 

Pinning the open end of the strap

Fold the open end of the strap inward and pin. 

Attaching the strap to the top

Attach the strap to the top piece and pin it together. 

DIY men's shirt into dress

Align the straps and do the same on the other side. 

Sewing the straps and top hem

Sew everything together and hem the upper part. Start from the edge of the button placket when sewing. 

Note: The side with the button placket will be the back part of the dress. 

Measuring the front of the top

6. Make the front ruching

Fold the top in half and pin the middle. Then, measure 4.5” from the top center and draw a line. 

Sewing a basting stitch down the front

Sew down this line (only on the front layer), and don’t lock the stitches. 

Pulling the threads to create ruching

Pull the thread to create a ruffled effect. Tie the threads together twice to lock them in place. 

Measuring the bottom of the shirt

Making the skirt for the dress

7. Make the skirt

Measure and mark your desired length for the skirt and cut a straight line across. 

Removing the buttons, stitches, and buttonholes

Remove the buttons, stitches, and buttonholes with a seam ripper. 

Cutting along the side seams

Cut along the side seams and save the sides for later. 

Measuring the skirt pattern

Use the remaining piece of fabric for the front of the skirt. Mark it based on your pattern and cut accordingly. 

Making the front waistband

8. Make the front waistband

Cut a 3-inch wide strip from the fabric scraps about the same as the waist measurement. 

Pinning the waistband to the skirt

Pin the raw edges together of the waistband and skirt together, right sides facing. Then, sew to secure. 

Trimming the excess fabric

Cut off the excess. 

Sewing the back of the skirt

9. Make the back of the skirt

Get the pieces you cut earlier, attach and pin them together (by where the button placket was), and sew. This will be for the back piece of the skirt.

Making the back waistband

10. Make the back waistband

Cut two strips measuring 3 inches wide and the same length as the waist. Mine aren’t long enough, so I cut 4 shorter strips and combine them instead. If you need to do the same, simply sew two pieces’ ends together. 

Attaching the back waistband to the skirt

Next, place the waistband on the back piece’s waistline, pin, and sew. 

Topstitching the waistband

Topstitch the top edge of the waistband and cut the excess fabric. 

Measuring the elastic

11. Attach elastic

Cut a piece of 1-inch-wide elastic to the length of the waist.

Inserting the elastic

Insert the elastic through the waistband using a safety pin. 

Sewing the elastic

Sew the open sides and the elastic’s end to secure it in place. 

Pinning the side seams of the skirt

12. Assemble the dress

Place the skirt front and back pieces together, right sides facing. Pin the sides and sew. 

Inserting the bodice into the skirt

Turn the skirt inside out and place the bodice inside. Make sure the back of the skirt (elastic) is matched up to the back of the bodice (buttons). Align the seams, pin the edges together and sew. 

Hemming the bottom of the dress

Flip it over to the right side and hem the bottom with a double fold. 

Men's shirt into a dress

Men's shirt into a dress

Here’s the final result! From a boring men’s shirt into a dress - pretty neat, right? Next time your partner, brother, father, or friend wants to discard their shirts, you’ll know exactly what to do by giving it a fantastic thrift flip!

I hope you are inspired by this tutorial on how to make a shirt into a dress. Thanks for joining me. 

Suggested materials:
  • Oversized men’s shirt
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
See all materials

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