Thrift Flip: Turn a Regular Shirt Into a Shirred Off-Shoulder Shirt

by Its.rikke
4 Materials
30 Minutes

In this thrift-flip DIY, I will be turning a simple plain shirt that I got from my local thrift store into something a little more stylish. Using the power of shirring, we’re going to be adding some elastic and completely changing the shape and appearance of the shirt. You’ll love the finished result!

Tools and materials:

  • Shirt
  • Elastic
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
DIY off-the-shoulder top

Remove the sleeves 

Start off by cutting off the sleeves.

How to make an off-the-shoulder top

Cut the top of the shirt

Then make sure that the shirt is buttoned up and everything is nice and flat, and determine the middle point of the armhole curve and cut across the shirt. 

Make an off-the-shoulder top

Cut the bottom of the shirt

The next step is to cut off the bottom of the shirt so you get your desired length. I wanted mine to stop around the waist, so I cut it off below the second lowest button.

No-sew off-the-shoulder top

Remove buttons and placket

Next, remove buttons and the shirt placket (this is the front part of the shirt that is stiffer than the rest of it).

off-the-shoulder top tutorial

Sew the shirt together

Next, fold the shirt’s right sides together and fold the front pieces together, so the shirt becomes a tube. After having started the shirring process, I realized that my shirt wasn’t going to fit me well, so I had to use some other fabric that I cut off the shirt to insert a panel in the front and back of the shirt to make it wider. 


I was working with a shirt that fit me pretty well. Even though I could make it work in the end, I recommend getting something a bit more oversized, which will make things more simple and you won’t have to resort to inserting panels as I did.

After shirring, the shirt will decrease to half its width, so make sure your shirt is double the width you want it to be.

Add hems

Before starting to shirr, I hemmed the bottom and the top of the top with a rolled hem so that I didn’t have to do this later. Once the fabric gets all wrinkly from the shirring, it’s a pain to hem. 

Prepare to shir

To get ready for shirring:

  1. Take your bobbin and then roll some thin elastic onto it by hand.
  2. Make sure not to stretch the elastic out while you’re putting it on.
  3. Once the bobbin is filled, put it in the machine and thread it as you normally would.
  4. Turn your stitch length to the longest on your machine (mine was 4).

I think the longer the stitch length, the more dramatic the shirring will be. 

Shir the fabric

To start shirring, sew on the right side of the fabric like you normally would. It’s important to backstitch each time you begin and end a round so that the elastic doesn’t start to unravel. Go around the shirt until the entire thing is shirred. I spaced my stitches around half an inch apart; the more space between the rounds, the faster you will shir the entire thing. On the wrong side of the fabric, you will be able to see the black elastic, and on the right side, you’ll be able to see the white thread. You can see in the picture how I’ve spaced out my rounds. Proceed to shir round the whole shirt.

Add the sleeves

After the entire thing is shirred, it’s time to put the sleeves back on. Turn your shirt inside out, take the sleeve, and put it inside the shirt, matching the right sides together. If your shirt is like mine, you will be able to match the seam on the sleeve with the shirt’s side seam. To attach the sleeve, I started sewing from the middle and then out towards the sides so that the sleeve would be attached evenly on both sides. 

Fold in the top of the sleeve

Lastly, fold in that curvy part of the sleeve, so the top of the shirt becomes straight. Then sew it down, and you are finished!

And here we have the finished shirt. What a transformation! Would you ever believe that this started off as a regular button-down shirt? I’m in love with the shirred effect and really like the elasticated bodice that it has created. The final product is classy, elevated, and sophisticated - not to mention very feminine as well. I can’t wait to wear it!

Suggested materials:
  • Shirt
  • Elastic
  • Thread
See all materials

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