How to Make a Button-Down Shirt Into a Cute Off-the-Shoulder Dress

7 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make a button-down shirt into a dress. This DIY repurposed men’s dress shirt fits at the waist and flares out in all the right places. Join me and watch the magic unfold!

Tools and materials:

  • Button-down shirt 
  • Bedsheet or fabric
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Elastic
DIY repurposed men's dress shirt

This is the men's button-down shirt I decided to transform into a DIY off-the-shoulder button-down shirt dress. Keep reading to see the results!

Cutting the men's button-down shirt

1. Cut the button-down shirt

Fold your shirt in half. Cut out the top part of the shirt, a few inches under the shoulder seam. 

Cutting the sleeves off the shirt

Cut the sleeves in half, too. 

Ensuring there is a straight cut at the top

Cut off the excess bits where necessary, so your shirt is cut straight on top. 

Finishing the raw edges at the top

2. Finish the raw edges

For a neater look, head on over to your sewing machine and zigzag stitch the raw edges. You can also use an overlock stitch. Fold over the raw edge by about an inch. 

Measuring the elastic for the neckline

3. Cut & attach the elastic

Measure how much elastic you’ll need; it should fit around the whole circumference of your top area, including the shoulders. Then, cut the elastic accordingly. 

Pinning the elastic to itself and the shirt

Turn your shirt inside out. Pin your elastic by its short ends, and then pin the elastic to your shirt. Start from the sides and work your way around in halves to evenly distribute everything. 

Sewing the elastic to the top of the shirt

Now, sew the elastic. Remember to stretch it as you sew for that lovely ruffled effect. This is what it should look like. 

Cutting the bottom off the shirt

4. Modify the bottom of the shirt

Cut the bottom of the shirt, making sure you get rid of the curved sides. 

Measuring the bottom of the shirt

Next, measure the bottom part, as you will need this measurement as a guide for the next step. 

White fabric from an old bedsheet

5. Add the white fabric

I used an old bedsheet for this step (yay, another great upcycle!), but you can use any plain fabric you have on hand. Cut the fabric according to the measurement from the previous step, and make the length around 40cm (15.75 inches), or more as desired. 

Pinning the fabric to the bottom of the shirt

Pin the fabric to the bottom of the shirt, right sides touching. Then, sew to secure. 

Sewing the white fabric to the dress bottom

This is what it should look like. 

How to create darts in the bodice

6. Make darts

Now it’s time to take in the waistline so that it looks more fitted. 

Adding darts to the DIY button-down dress

Make four darts at the front and four at the back. Each should measure 10cm (4 inches) long and 4cm (1.5 inches) wide.

Tip: To see how I make the darts, skip to 5:20 minutes on my video tutorial. 

How to sew a dress out of a shirt

It’s also good practice to try on the shirt and adjust the darts, if necessary. Then, go ahead and sew the pleats in place.

Rolling up the sleeves to sew

7. Hem the sleeves and the bottom

Roll up the sleeves and sew. Roll it up twice for a more uniform look. Hem the bottom of the skirt with a simple zigzag stitch. 

How to make a button-down shirt into a dress

Here’s the finished DIY button-down shirt dress! What do you think? It’s so stunning, and it looks like it came straight out of a fashion magazine; the blocks of color really elevate the DIY dress.

Thanks for joining me on this thrift-flip transformation, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Suggested materials:
  • Button-down shirt
  • Bedsheet or fabric
  • Ruler
See all materials

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Join the conversation
3 of 5 comments
  • CraftyKaren CraftyKaren on Sep 13, 2021

    Fantastic!!! I will definitely make one of these. Great, east to follow instructions! Thank you for sharing!

  • Michelle Michelle on May 06, 2022

    Super cute! One idea I saw in another tutorial that you may like to add to this gem is sewing up the button line for no gaps. I will definitely be giving this project a go. Thanks for the inspiration!