How to Easily DIY a Men's Shirt Into a Cute Summer Dress

by ModernModiste
9 Materials
3 Hours

Would you like some new super cute summer dresses? Then follow along with this tutorial and I’ll show you how to do a DIY thrift flip that turns a men’s shirt into a dress!

You can pick up men’s button-down shirts from your thrift store for about $5 each and choose from solid colors or prints to make your summer dresses.

Best of all, if you’re a beginner sewer, you won’t have to make buttonholes or a collar, and you won’t have to sew on any buttons. So, let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Men’s button-down shirt
  • Dress for pattern
  • Pattern paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Sewing pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
Making a pattern using your own clothes

1. Make your pattern

Use a sleeveless dress that fits you well and trace it to make your pattern. If you haven’t done this before, then watch my tutorial on how I make patterns tracing my clothes.

Lining up the pattern with the shirt

2. Make the top of your shirt dress

Remove the pocket from the shirt, if it has one, and then line up the dress pattern pieces on either side of the button placket. Trace the pattern onto the shirt, marking where your natural waistline is.

Cutting out the top part of the dress

Cut out the top part of the dress from the shirt.

Adding darts to the bodice

3. Create darts

Try on the shirt inside-out, and pin where you want the darts to be. I added 2 armpit darts and 2 front darts.

Adding back darts

I also added 2 back darts.

Pinning the darts and measuring them

Take off the shirt and measure, mark, and pin all of the darts to make sure they are evenly placed.

Sewing the darts in place

Sew each dart in place along your marked lines.

Making sleeves for the dress

4. Make the sleeves

Cut down the center of the top edge of the sleeve. Then use your pattern to take in the sleeve width, leaving an extra 1-inch seam allowance on each side.

Cutting out a new sleeve piece

Cut out the new sleeve piece.

Hemming the sleeves

Double-fold and hem both side edges of the sleeve.

Pinning the sleeve to the armhole

With right sides together, pin the sleeve to the armhole of the dress, starting at the armpit seam. 

How to make a shirt into a dress

Watch the video from 6:05 to 6:18 to see how I deal with the extra sleeve fabric at the shoulder seam.

Sewing the sleeves

Sew the sleeve in. Note that the top of the sleeve is open. Later I will show you how to make ties for closing the sleeve.

Pinning darts in the skirt

5. Add the skirt bottom to the dress

Line up the bottom part of the shirt to the top of the dress. Line up the button placket first, and then gather and pin the bottom of the shirt at the position of the darts on the top.

Sewing the darts for the skirt

Measure, mark and sew in the darts on the bottom part of the dress the same you did for the top darts.

Making a shirt into a dress

With right sides facing, pin and sew the bottom of the dress to the top of the dress.

Cutting out strips to make sleeve ties

6. Make sleeve ties

Use your excess shirt fabric to cut four strips for the sleeve ties.

Sewing the sleeve ties

Fold in the short edges of each tie. Then fold the long edges to the middle and fold again. Sew the ties closed.

Sewing the ties to the sleeves

Pin and sew the ties to both bottom edges of each sleeve.

Now repeat all of the sleeve directions for the second sleeve, and then finish all the raw edges.

How to turn a shirt into a dress

You’re done turning this old men’s shirt….

DIY men's shirt into dress

DIY men's shirt into dress tutorial

.…into this cute new summer dress! The tie sleeves are adorable, and the dress is fitted but still light and flowy. Pick up more than one man’s shirt from your thrift store and make several shirts into dresses so you can wear them all summer long!

Please leave a comment to let me know how you liked this DIY men’s shirt into a dress tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Men’s button-down shirt
  • Dress for pattern
  • Pattern paper
See all materials

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Join the conversation
  • Ellie Ellie on Jul 16, 2022

    I’m tall so this idea would not work for me unless I could lengthen the skirt. My husband has a lot of nice shirts that I could use if I could have a longer skirt.

    • Tracy Tracy on Jul 26, 2023

      Ellie, could you add length using another shirt with a pattern that goes well with the first?. I need extra width instead of length so I plan to insert side panels from the second shirt. Good luck.