Do It Yourself: Zara Shirt Dress and Sweater Vest

Alicia Yanson
by Alicia Yanson
9 Materials
2 Hours

Recently, the app TikTok has become super popular and I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t found myself a little addicted to it too. Given this, I wanted to try out some cool hacks and ideas that I’ve been seeing all over the app. Today, we are going to be making the viral ZARA dress shirt and making sweater vests from old sweaters!

Tools and materials:

  • White button-down shirt
  • Seam ripper
  • Pinking shears
  • Pins
  • Sweaters
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
DIY Zara shirt dress

White shirt dress Zara

Slim the shirt 

To make the ZARA dress shirt, we first have to start with an oversized white button-down. Make sure it is big on you and that it reaches past your hips. Then, to start sewing, begin by removing the pockets. Do this by using a seam ripper to rip it free. Next, we want to take the shirt in. I started with the sleeves, sewing them in about two inches, and then continued to the sides, slimming them down until I reached the bottom. Cut off any excess fabric (I used pinking shears because the zigzag shape keeps the fabric from fraying). 

White Zara shirt dress

Create the pleats 

Mark your waistline (mine was at the fourth button down) and then mark across the shirt as pictured above. To make the pleats, fold the first marking to the second one and pin it down. Next, fold the fourth marking to the third one and pin that down as well. Repeat on the other side. 

Pleated shirt dress Zara

Repeat the same process on the back of the dress (for back pleats) however with the markings being slightly wider (as pictured above). Now sew all the markings down vertically and then add a topstitch. 

Zara pleated shirt dress

Make the sweater vest 

Moving on to the sweater vest, I started with two sweaters that I got from a thrift store. My hope is to make one of them the traditional way and to get creative with the second by making it cropped. Remember, when choosing your sweaters to thrift, make sure they have a V-neck. Next, to start flipping the sweaters, first mark the new armholes - if need be, you can trace them out from a shirt you already own. However, for the second arm, simply fold the sweater over and use the first hole as a guide for the second. 

Hem the sleeves

Hem the armholes 

Flip the vest inside out and fold the edges of the armhole in. Secure the hem with pins all around and sew. And there you have it, a quick and easy thrift flip! 

Cut off the bottom

Crop the sweater 

Now, to make the cropped sweater vest, we start with a full sweater and fold it over until we reach the desired length. Use a pin to mark your length, add on half an inch of seam allowance, and then use a rotary cutter to remove the excess fabric. Next, cut the bottom piece into strips so that you have the fabric for the waistband later on. 

Slim the sides

Cut off the sleeves 

Turn the top inside out and take in the sides so that the sweater will be more fitted. I took mine in about an inch. Additionally, mark the new armholes to cut out. Using scissors, cut out the armholes, however, leave the sides for now. Next, sew the sides where you marked and then cut off the excess fabric. 

Attach the waistband

Add the waistband 

Same as before, to hem the sleeves, fold the edges in half an inch, pin it down and sew. Next, take the waistband we cut out from earlier and cut it to be the size of your waist (it will be a couple of inches smaller than the top). Place the waistband onto the top, right sides together, and pin the edges. Sew all around, making sure to stretch the fabric as you go to ensure both layers are sewn on evenly. 

Finished ZARA dress

Finished sweater vest

Cropped sweater vest

This outfit was so fun to make and the end result is so chic, I love it! This DIY ZARA shirt dress is the perfect answer to anyone looking for an outfit that’s a little more business and a little less casual. Not to mention the way the sweater vest looks on top! 

Suggested materials:
  • White button-down shirt
  • Seam ripper
  • Pinking shears
See all materials

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

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • M Blacksheep M Blacksheep on Apr 06, 2021

    This was very simply done with great instruction. Now I’ll never look at sweaters and Shirts the same way.

  • Nanette Nanette on May 17, 2021

    That cropped one reminds me of Cher from the 1995 movie Clueless (one of the all-time great movies!)