How to turn a shirt into a blouse

Jennie Jones explains how to turn a shirt into a blouse in time for summer! Follow her step by step guide to make your own.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse

With summer on the way, it’s a great time to try this clever upcycling project. Want to turn an old shirt into a stylish new blouse for summer? This tutorial created by Jennie Jones is a brilliant way to transform a tired old shirt into a breezy top, giving it a new lease of life in the process.

This tutorial uses a woman’s shirt, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t try it with a man’s shirt too. If you’re reluctant to chop up one of your old shirts, you could head to your local charity shop or thrift store and pick up an old shirt there. You might discover some retro patterns that you really love!

This project was designed by Jennie Jones for Simply Sewing Magazine. Jennie Jones is a designer who is regularly featured in Simply Sewing Magazine. She got into sewing after having children and loves to create modern gifts, accessories and homewares.

New to sewing? Before you begin, your might find it useful to look at our guide to the best sewing machines for beginners, sewing for beginner guide, how to use a sewing machine guide and our pick of the best sewing kits for beginners.

If you’re planning to make more outfits for the summer, try our summer dress sewing patterns, harem pants pattern and our wrap skirt pattern.

Read on to learn how to turn a shirt into a blouse step by step.


You Will Need

  • Shirt or blouse
  • Basic sewing kit

Total time:

Removing the sleeves

Step 1

Unpick the sleeves from the shirt using a seam ripper or small scissors, taking care not to cut through the fabric. Take a little time to remove all the loose threads that are left behind to neaten the seam area or they will get sewn into the new hem.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 1

Step 2

Neaten the raw edge if necessary then press one armhole to the inside along the unpicked seam line.

Step 3

Topstitch the turned-under edge into place to hem.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 2

Step 4

Repeat this to neaten, press and stitch the other armhole.

Making the ruffles

Step 1

Cut off the cuff from one of the sleeves. You won’t need this.

Step 2

Cut the sleeve into two equal rectangles to use for the ruffles. Round off the two bottom corners.

Step 3

Pin the two ruffle pieces together with right sides (RS) facing.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 3

Step 4

Stitch together, leaving the top straight edge open.

Step 5

Turn RS out and press, making sure the curves lie right on the edge.

Step 6

Gather the open edge by working a long stitch by hand or machine through both layers of fabric.

Step 7

Pull up the gathers so it forms a ruffle. We gathered ours to 15cm (6in) in length which made a small, neat ruffle. Stitch the gathers into place close to the raw edge.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 4

Step 8

Make a ruffle from the other sleeve in the same way.

Attaching the ruffles

Step 1

Unpick the buttonhole and button plackets of the shirt where the ruffles will go. We positioned the top of our ruffles 10cm (4in) down from the collar but try yours in different positions until you are happy with the way it looks.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 5

Step 2

Slip the raw edge of the ruffle inside the plackets on each side, making sure they line up, then pin into place.

Step 3

Topstitch the ruffles into place, making sure you work along the original line of stitching. Overlap either end of the stitches that you haven’t unpicked to make sure they don’t come undone.

Fitting the shirt

Step 1

Put the shirt on inside out and pin where to take it in so it fits more closely. Make sure you make the same adjustment on both sides so it hangs evenly.

Step 2

Sew together along the pin lines then trim and finish the seams with a machine zigzag to prevent them from fraying.

How to turn a shirt into a blouse step 6

You’ve finished! You now know how to turn a shirt into a blouse – happy crafting!

How to turn a shirt into a blouse