How to Upcycle a T-Shirt With Sweater Sleeves

The cold weather inspired me to refashion this henley t-shirt with sweater sleeves. I stole the idea from this Free People Henley. Instead of paying $68, I made my version for less than $10 with thrift store finds. And I had enough sweater left over to make a matching pencil skirt.

I found the perfect henley t-shirt for $1.99 and the brown sweater for $3.99. This project took me a few hours to make over the weekend. Sewing was a breeze as it was mostly straight line sewing.

Update - watch the video or read on below.

Here’s a quick overview of the project.

  • Step 1: Chop the sleeves off both the henley and the sweater
  • Step 2: Sew the sweater sleeves to the henley sleeves
  • Step 3: Cut out the skirt from the leftover sweater
  • Step 4: Sew the skirt together and add an elastic waist

Step 1: Chop the sleeves of both the t-shirt and sweater

Cut off the first 9″ of both sweater sleeves and open the side seams. Shorten the sleeves on the t-shirt and open the side seams about 1″.

Step 2: Sew the sweater sleeves to the t-shirt sleeves

Pin and sew the sweater sleeves to the t-shirt sleeves.

Sew the sides of the sleeves.

Step 3: Cut the skirt from the leftover sweater

Use a pencil skirt as a pattern. Don’t worry about adding a seam allowance or darts as the sweater will stretch and mold to your body.

Step 4: Sew the skirt and add an elastic waist

With right sides together, sew the side seams.

Cut a length of elastic that fits snugly around your waist and sew the ends closed.

Pin the elastic to the right side of the waist of the skirt and serge. Be sure to stretch the elastic as you serge so the skirt won’t bunch up.

Fold over the elastic once . . .

. . . and fold over the elastic again.  Tack down the elastic at the side seams so the elastic won’t unroll.

Here’s a close up of the sweater sleeves and skirt.

Sewing knits on a sewing machine can be tricky, so here are some tutorials to help you get it right:

Sewing knits without a serger by  Seamworks

How to sew with sweater knits by  Seamworks

After lots of trial and error, I found that sewing knits is all about the right stitch and tension. Many modern sewing machines have specific stitches for knits, so give them a try. Practicing on scraps will save you lots of tears and frustration.

Did you enjoy this refashion? If so, please share it on your favorite social media platform – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest – whatever floats your boat. Refashioning is the perfect antidote to fast fashion because it’s ethical and sustainable. Your money goes to charity, and you save clothes from the landfill. It’s good for the earth and your pocketbook. Spread the word.


Check out my blog Pivot Point Patterns for more upcycling tips and projects.

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

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