How to Upcycle a Men's Shirt Into a Cute Ruffle Mini Dress

8 Materials
2 Hours

Ruffles add style and drama to any outfit and in this project I'm going to upcycle a men's shirt into a cute ruffle mini dress (or a long ruffle top if you're taller!)

When choosing a shirt for this refashion, you want to look for a long sleeve, lightweight men's shirt with a back yoke that sits just above your bust when worn back to front.

It's fine if the shirt is oversized, because we're going to take in the side seams anyway.

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Tools and materials:

  • Long sleeve men's shirt with yoke
  • Seam ripper
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Fabric marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
Deconstructing the shirt

1. Deconstruct the shirt

Use a seam ripper to remove the pocket, the sleeves and any tags and labels. 

Deconstructing the shirt

Cut off the collar, leaving the collar stand.

Sewing smock front

2. Sew the smock front

Open the back yoke seam by 4 - 5 inches either side of the back pleat.

Sewing smock front

Press out the pleat and sew a basting stitch half an inch from the raw edge along the lower section of the opening.

Knot one end of the basting thread and pull on the other end to gather the fabric until it fits the yoke.

Knot the other end of the thread and even out the gathers.

Sewing smock front

Open the bottom of the yoke and tuck the gathers between the two layers, so the basting stitches are hidden. 

Pin through the three layers and sew in place along the lower edge of the yoke.

Finishing neck edge

3. Finish the neck edge.

Mark along the outside of the collar stand just above the buttonhole. 

Finishing neck edge

Fold both raw edges at the level of the marks to the inside of the collar stand and pin. Top stitch in place on the right side.

Preparing the armholes

4. Prepare the armholes

Undo the side seams and press the edges.

Try on the shirt with the wrong side out or use a dress form and determine how deep you want the armhole to be.

For this style we're keeping the drop shoulder seam, so bear that in mind. 

Place a pin horizontally on each side where you want the armhole to end.

Taking in side seams

5. Take in the side seams

Lay the shirt flat with the right sides together. Match the upper and lower edges of the side seams and pin the seams together.

Measure and mark 1.5 inches in from the horizontal pins that define the armhole depth. 

Taking in side seams

Draw a diagonal line from that point to meet the original side seam allowance.

Make sure the lines match on both sides, then pin along them. 

Taking in side seams

Sew the new side seams, curving the stitching out at the level of the horizontal pin to meet the armhole edge. Trim away the excess fabric.

Making ruffles

6. Make the armhole ruffles

Turn the shirt right side out. Measure around the new armhole and double the measurement.

Making ruffles

Cut off the cuffs, undo the sleeve seams and press the edges.

Fold the sleeve until the raw edge comes to just below the sleeve placket.

Measure and cut 4 inch strips the same length as the doubled armhole measurement.

Making ruffles

With right sides facing, join both ends of the strips to make a continuous loop.

Fold one long edge of the strip under twice, pin and sew.

Making ruffles

Sew two rows of basting stitches approximately half an inch apart along the other long edge.

Knot one end of the threads as before and gather the ruffle to fit the armhole. Secure the threads at the other end.

Attaching the ruffles

7. Attach the ruffles

With the right sides facing, pin the ruffle to the armhole edge, matching the upper and lower seams first.

Distribute the ruffle evenly around the armhole, adjusting the gathers where necessary.

Sew in place outside the lower row of gathering stitches.

Attaching the ruffles

Understitch the armhole seam to keep it laying flat.

DIY ruffle mini dress

DIY ruffle mini dress

You can wear this simple men's shirt refashion as a ruffled mini dress or a long top, according to your style and height. You can also wear it with the yoke at the back or the front, for a different look.

If you have any questions or you'd like to see more of these men's shirt refashions, please leave a comment below.

For another sewing post, check out my tutorial on How to DIY a Super Cozy Belted Poncho.

Suggested materials:
  • Long sleeve men's shirt with yoke
  • Seam ripper
  • Pins
See all materials

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