Upcycle 101: Beautiful One-Shoulder Top Ideas

Lydia Naomi
by Lydia Naomi
9 Materials
4 Hours

A one-shoulder top is super snazzy, don't you think? I recently got inspired to make a one-shoulder top, and I decided to show you all three different ways to make them from a t-shirt! As you know, nothing goes a long way without a good thrift flip. You guys will be surprised at how amazing a DIY one-shoulder top looks; you'll never guess it was a t-shirt in its past life. So let's get this thrift flip started!

DIY one-shoulder top

Consider pattern alternatives

To start, grab a t-shirt that fits you well. Take note of your measurements, including your upper bust, armhole, sleeve, and waistline. In this one-shoulder top tutorial, I will show you how to create a paper pattern and manipulate a t-shirt to cut out the top directly onto the fabric. 

Easy one-shoulder top

For the paper pattern method, I will leave tips throughout this tutorial to see where you can follow the method on my video. 


See how I started the patterning method from 1:15 minutes.

Basic one-shoulder top

Gathered strap tank

Make the pattern

When you cut the pattern, cut it in a way that you can utilize the hem. If you're using a t-shirt as a guide, fold it as shown. This is the shape you'll end up with. Center the t-shirt, trace the bottom half. 

Simple one-shoulder top

Then, pivot to the right and trace the edge as shown in the image. 

one-shoulder top tutorial

Next, pivot to the left and trace the other edge. 


See how I drafted this pattern at 2:14 minutes. 

Make a one-shoulder top

Assemble the one-shoulder top

Stitch the side that will not have gathers with a zigzag stitch. 

How to make a one-shoulder top

Sew the side seams, right sides facing and reinforcing the seams with a backstitch. 

Fold over the gathered edge to create a ¾ inch casing. You can use a straight stitch here. 

Cut a strip for your strap. Get the exact length by measuring from under your arm to around your neck. 

Connect the strips, fold them in half and sew. Then, insert elastic through the casing. See how I do this from the 3:00 minute mark. 

Feed the tube through the gathered encasing and around the neck. Attach the short ends together with a stitch. 

To finish, create the gathers to your desired width and tack in place. 

Done! So polished and amazing, don't you think?

Asymmetrical ruched tank

Make the pattern

Using your t-shirt as a guide, fold back the t-shirt's top edge and trace around the top, including the top half of the sleeve hole. 

Then, move your t-shirt down by about half of the same length as your armhole and trace the underarm. 

Next, move the t-shirt further down, so it's moved down half or the same length of the side seam, ideally until the hems match. Trace the rest accordingly. 


To see how I drafted the pattern, move to 5:04 minutes. 

Cut and sew the elastic

For an excellent ruche effect, measure the armhole of your t-shirt and cut an elastic to size. 

For the side seam, measure your underarm to your waist and make the opposite side a little longer for an asymmetrical hem. Cut the elastic accordingly. 

Then, sew the corresponding elastics in the side seams, on the wrong side. 


On the short side of the side seam, focus on making more gathers towards the top. For the long side, make the gathers more towards the bottom.

For the neckline, measure from under your underarm and around your neck, cut an elastic to size, and sew around the neckline. 

To finish the elasticated edges, fold over once and sew a straight stitch all while stretching the elastic. 

Yeah! Your simple one-shoulder top is complete!

Reversible cut-out strap tank

Make and cut the pattern

Using your t-shirt as a guide, fold your t-shirt as shown. Then, mark a small v-shape from the shoulder to the length you desire. 


See how I did this on my PC from 7:55 minutes. 

Use two large t-shirts for this project, so go ahead and cut 4 pieces, 2 from each t-shirt. 

Assemble the top

Place the contrasting colors on the right sides and sew all the seams, except the side seams. 

Use clear elastic when sewing the edges. Cut the elastic exactly to the size of the seams. 

Now, feed through the shoulder straps and sew the seams as shown.

Match the side seams, color to color, turn inside out and sew. 

Leave a gap on one side so that you can turn the one-shoulder top inside out. 

Finally, stitch the gap closed, iron the seams, and you're done!

How elegant is this easy one-shoulder top? I love that it has two colors! I can turn it inside out and flaunt both colors! 

Suggested materials:
  • Loose-fitting t-shirts
  • Well-fitting t-shirt
  • Scissors
See all materials

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Join the conversation
  • Ellen Ellen on Jun 12, 2021

    Most t-shirt makeovers seem to be for young, belly-baring or bra-less wearing women, but I think I could wear these! I’m a fit 52 year-old in a hot, humid climate, so thanks for giving me something I can wear without feeling silly!

  • Lisa Lisa on Jun 12, 2021

    Adorable and polished! Thank you for sharing!!!