Thrift Flip: Men’s Button-Down to Spaghetti Strap Tank Top

Julia Rafael
by Julia Rafael
6 Materials
90 Minutes

I can’t say no to a good thrift flip, and today I’m saying “Yes!” to this amazing transformation. I’m going to show you how I turned a boring, oversized men’s button-down shirt into a beautiful shirred-bodice tank top with tied shoulder straps. I hope you love this DIY spaghetti strap tank top as much as I do.

Tools and materials:

  • Men’s button-down shirt
  • Elastic band
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
The original shirt

Use a seam ripper

Remove the pocket

Use a seam ripper to remove the pocket from the shirt.

Cut off the button panels


Cut off the panels with the buttons and buttonholes.

Pin and sew the raw edges

Pin and sew

Turn the shirt inside out, pin the edges of the opening of the shirt together, and sew it down.

Mark the corners

Shape the top

Cut the collar and sleeves off the shirt, by cutting directly across the shirt, underarm to underarm. In the two top corners, mark 10 centimeters from the corner across the top edge, and 8 centimeters from the corner along the side.

Make a straight line

Then attach those two points with a straight line.

Make a spaghetti strap tank top

Cut the corners off along the marked lines.

Pin and sew the raw edges

Pin and sew 

Pin and sew all the raw edges along the top and bottom of the shirt.


Make marks for your elastic tunnels

Mark the shirt

Make marks along the length of the shirt, as shown in the video at 1:40-1:53.

Cut strips

Cut strips

From the offcuts of the shirt, cut ten to twelve strips of fabric, each 2 centimeters (¾ of an inch) wide. Zigzag stitch around the raw edges of each strip.

Basic spaghetti strap tank top

Pin and sew

Pin a strip of fabric one inch from the top on both the front and back of the shirt and sew it down along the long edges, leaving the sides open. Cut any extra fabric off the ends of the strips so the ends are parallel to the diagonal edges.

Attach the strips

Attach the rest of the strips of fabric to the shirt

Use the rest of the strips to create five circles that fit around the width of the shirt. Pin each one at the marks you made, and sew them down along the top and bottom edges of each strip. Leaving a gap in the stitching along one edge on each strip, so you can insert an elastic band into each one. 

Insert the elastic bands

Insert elastic bands 

Using a safety pin attached to one end of the elastic band, insert the elastic bands into each of the strips of fabric. Pull them through each tunnel, and secure them in place. On the top strips, sew the elastics down at the edges. For the rest of the strips, sew the ends of the elastic bands together. Then sew all the gaps in the stitching closed.

Sew binding along the armholes

Sew on binding

Cut two strips of fabric for binding along the armholes. Pin them in place, and sew them down.

Snip the seam allowance

Snip the seam allowance

To allow the binding to lay flat, cut a few small triangular snips in the fabric of the seam allowance along the armhole.

Fold and pin the binding

Fold, pin, and sew the binding

Fold the binding up twice and pin it in place along the edge of the armhole. Then sew it down.

Easy spaghetti strap tank top

Make shoulder straps

Use offcuts to make four shoulder straps. Pin one strap to each corner at the top of the shirt, and sew them in place.

Completed spaghetti strap tank top

The top I made is fairly casual, but you can find thrifted men’s shirts of all different colors and fabrics. A silk or satin black spaghetti strap tank top paired with a long, flowy skirt or wide-legged slacks can be a chic and classy summer look. Let me know what you think of this transformation!

Suggested materials:
  • Men's button-down shirt
  • Elastic band
  • Scissors
See all materials

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