How to DIY a Cute Drawstring Cropped Top

Enitan Agbabiaka
by Enitan Agbabiaka
8 Materials
2 Hours

I took a simple but boring t-shirt and turned it into a cute drawstring cropped top in a couple of hours!

Apart from the t-shirt itself, which I thrifted in a local market in a size M, I spent no money at all on this project.

It's such fun to upcycle something like this, it's good for the environment and it's so easy to do.

Tools and materials:

  • T-shirt in your usual size
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine with zigzag stitch
Checking length

1. Check the length

Try on the t-shirt and use tailor's chalk to mark the final length you want.

Determining neckline

Also decide on the width and depth of the neckline, and mark that with chalk as well. 

Measuring t-shirt

2. Cut the t-shirt

Lay the t-shirt out flat and line up the side and sleeve seams.

Measure the length of your t-shirt and decide how much you need to shorten it by.

I wanted to make my finished top 18 inches long plus a half inch allowance for the hem, so I measured and marked 5 inches up from the hem across the width of the t-shirt.

Use your ruler to draw a straight line at the cutting point. Cut off the excess fabric and put it aside.

Measuring t-shirt

Fold the t-shirt in half lengthways and match the shoulder and underarm seams.

Measure 7 inches down the sleeve from the shoulder seam.

Measuring t-shirt

Rule a straight line across the sleeve, parallel with the cuff, and cut through both sleeves.

Cutting t-shirt

3. Shape the neckline

Open the t-shirt out flat and cut straight down the center front only - be careful not to cut through both layers.

T-shirt laid flat

Refold the t-shirt lengthways by placing the center front edges together and pin them.


Now you're going to shape the neckline, but be warned - mine ended up too revealing for me, so I would suggest not cutting it as deep as I do here or adding a hook and eye fastening to it afterwards.

I measured 2 inches in from the center front edges and tapered the line towards the front. This is where to adjust the neckline if you don't want a deep cleavage. 

Cutting t-shirt

Continue marking from the 2 inch mark around the neckline, half an inch from the edge. 

Cut off the excess fabric.

Finishing raw edges

4. Finish the raw edges

Open out the top. Turn in and pin a narrow double hem along the center front and neck edges. Sew with a zigzag stitch.

Finishing raw edges

Finish the lower hem and the sleeves in the same way.


5. Casings

Open out the top. Measure and draw a straight line 4 inches up from the hem across the center fronts and back.

Draw three more straight lines under this one, 1 inch apart.


Using the excess fabric that you cut from the lower edge cut two strips, each one ruler width or 1 inch deep.

Cut off one side seam of each strip so you have two long strips.


Pin the strips to the inside of the top with wrong sides together.

Turn in the short edges and place one strip over the lower pair of lines and the other over the top pair. 

Sew in place along the top and bottom of both strips. Leave the short edges open.


6. Drawstrings

Cut two more 1 inch wide strips from the excess fabric and cut off one side seam as before.

Pull both strips lengthways in sections. This will make them longer and thinner. Trim them so they are approximately the same length.


Use a safety pin to thread one drawstring through each casing.

Make a double knot at each end of both drawstrings.


Tie each drawstring into a bow.

DIY drawstring cropped top

DIY drawstring cropped top

How cute and sexy is this top? In the picture, I'm using a safety pin at the top of the neckline, as it was too low for me. 

I also pulled the sleeve edges a little to make them wavy and you could do the same at the lower edge as well if you like the effect.

I'm so pleased with my DIY crop top t-shirt though and it's given me lots more DIY crop top ideas.

Do you like this style? Let me know in the comments.

Check out my post on How to DIY a Cute Denim Patch Mini Skirt From Jeans.

Suggested materials:
  • T-shirt in your usual size
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
See all materials

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