DIY Button Front Shirt on a Budget

by Koetiquemade
10 Materials
5 Hours

As many of you know, making your own clothes isn’t always less expensive than purchasing ready to wear. In fact, sometimes it’s quite a bit more expensive. It’s a price some are all willing to pay to have clothes perfectly designed for their bodies. Sure, we sometimes come across a fantastic fabric bargain, but the quality isn’t always the best. Or is it? I was determined to make a quality button front shirt without breaking the bank.

First, the pattern I will be using is the Ballad Blouse from Love Notions Patterns. Love Notions is and indie pattern company and I just adore all of their patterns. I'll put more details about this pattern at the bottom of this post.

For The Ballad Pattern, you choose your size based on your high bust measurement. If your full bust minus your high bust is more than 4 inches you need to use the FULL bust option that comes with the pattern. That is not the case for me so I used a straight size medium. For reference my measurements are:

HB-35 inches

FB-37 inches

W-32 inches

H-41 inches.

I'm 5' 5" which is the height the pattern is drafted for.

Many of you have probably heard of the discount fabric bin at Walmart. If not, it's basically this shelf in the craft section at Walmart with pre-cut, rolled fabric. You can search through it and find all sorts of fabrics! They are $2+/yard sometimes as much as $3/yard. I haven't seen them for more than that but your Walmart could be different. These fabrics are great for making test garments so you don't have to cut into your more expensive fabric. I have also found some pretty great knits there that I've use for t-shirts for my boys. Could I find a woven suitable for a button front shirt? Let's find out.

Something to be aware of when shopping in this fabric bin at Walmart is that it doesn’t really list what the fabric is made of. It’s kind of a general/generic description that’s the same on ALL the fabrics. I found this Aztec Print, blue fabric. It was $6 for 3 yards. It looked decent enough, but it was rolled up and kind of hard to tell. For $2/yard I was willing to find out. I grab it and some Snake skin print. The snake skin print was the same price as the blue, but it seemed a bit more thin. If this worked I was going to have two shirts for a little over $12 after tax.

What about buttons? Well, if you've seen my other refashions you know that I've refashioned quite a few of my husbands button-up shirts. I cut the buttons off the ones that i wont need before I refashion or recycle them. So I had a bag full of buttons that were the perfect size.

I unrolled the fabrics once I got home so I could more fully assess them. Sometimes these discount fabrics have chunks cut out of the center or have flaws in the print. There was none of that present in either of these fabrics.

The drape was really nice too. I didn’t want my shirts to be stiff. I wanted them to have movement and these fabrics looked and felt like they would be great. I prewashed on a cold and delicate cycle then dried them in my dryer on low heat. They held up excellent and I didn’t notice any fading or unraveling. Also, they didn’t wrinkle, at all. My guess is the fabric is very synthetic.

I made the blue one first to test fit. I cut out all my shirt pieces and attached interfacing to both button plackets. My fear with this cheaper fabric was that it would stretch out once it was cut and I would have trouble matching the pattern on the fabric. That actually wasn’t the case. You can see I was able to match the print of the fabric up at almost every seam. That can be hard with expensive fabric sometimes. I was pretty impressed with this fabric. It did have some stretch though, which actually made it a very comfortable blouse. Also, it wasn’t see through. That was a big concern of mine. This fabric was a big win in my opinion.

Now for the snake skin. The drape was excellent, but right away I noticed that It was quite see through. I could wear a nude color bra with it and would be fine but any other color would definitely show through. Cutting out my pieces was actually easier that the blue fabric, but neither was difficult. I’ve paid a lot of money for fabric that was miserable to cut out. It didn’t have any stretch like the blue one did, except for on the bias. As I mentioned above, neither of these fabrics wrinkled which is nice…..until you want to iron the folds in to the bias tape. That was especially difficult with the snake skin fabric, even with starch. Small price to pay for a shirt you don’t have to iron though.

Down side: Because the fabric is pre-cut and rolled up, it’s hard to tell what you’re getting. It’s kind of the same thing when you shop on-line too. You need to know a little bit about fabric so you can have some sense of what the fabric will be like.

There isn’t usually multiple cuts of a fabric. If you need more than is in the roll you probably wont be able to get it. Which means if you see something you like, grab it because it will be gone the next time you go back.

You have to be patient and wait for the fabric to find you. You may check some weeks and not find anything suitable for what you want. Just keep checking. If you’re on a time crunch you may want to forgo this discount fabric bin.

Sometimes there is a flaw or big hole in the fabric making it hard to use. However, Walmart will do a return for you if that happens to be the case.

Upside: You can find some truly unique fabrics in there. There’s a high turnover rate, which means there are constantly new fabrics coming in. You could probably check back weekly and get some great stuff. I randomly checked the week after I made these shirts and found the most amazing Double Brushed Poly knits $8/3 yards which is more than $2 a yard but not much.

Probably the thing I love most about this discount fabric bin is that you don’t have to wait for someone to come cut out fabric for you. It’s precut!

Final say: I’m definitely checking there often. I don’t know how these fabrics will hold up over time but so far I have no complaints. They both sewed amazingly, didn’t slip and slide around and gathered real nicely on the sleeves. If you are on a budget definitely find a Walmart that has this magic fabric section. It would be worth your time.

Let me know if you find something awesome!

Happy Sewing,


The Ballad Blouse

I am an affilaiate for Love Notions Patterns. I recieve a small comission when my links are used to purchase patterns. It doesn't cost extra to use my affiliate links.

The Ballad Blouse is the perfect addition to your spring and summer wardrobe. This design is meant for woven fabrics with drape and features a functional button-down placket with an easy to wear silhouette that gives you plenty of ease at the waist and hips.

Choose from five sleeve options: sleeveless, puff, short, flutter and bishop. The real star of this pattern is the detail at the front shoulder. Sew this blouse with either shirring or gathering. Each time you make it!

Ballad Blouse Features:

  • Meant for woven fabrics with drape
  • Five sleeve options: sleeveless, short sleeve with cuff, puff with ties, flutter and bishop
  • Full bust option
  • Two shoulder options: gathers or shirring
  • Video to walk you through the more complex parts

Sizes: XS-5X (See Size Charts  here)

Skill Level: Intermediate

Suggested materials:
  • Aprox 2 yards woven fabric   (Walmart pre-cut section)
  • Ballad Pattern   (
  • Scissors
See all materials

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

Join the conversation