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Strapless Upcycled Summer Dress from two separate men’s shirts

Check out how I turned two men's shirts into this super cute strapless dress using a pattern from Burdastyle and some leftover pieces of fabric. I hope you like it!

strapless upcycled dressstrapless upcycled dress

Last year I was lucky enough to find a few 6XL men shirt in my local thrift store and I felt like I won the lottery because I had the perfect shirt to make a dress for myself (I am 5 11″ so it's hard to upcycle from just one shirt)

Well, that happened again this past week =]

I found a really cute plaid blue shirt and I pair it with a medium-size jean looking one. The plan was to make a quick project for earth day to be featured in one of my favorite websites BurdaStyle – eeeek!

upcycled dress


So finally after a couple of months, I had a real excuse to set time aside to sit in my sewing machine and enjoy a few hours of creating =] For the very first time (in my life) I used a pattern, which was a pretty interesting experience.


summer dress upcycled

I used the 3/2011 Strapless tea length wedding dress pattern from BurdaStyle, but only for the top, even though I kept the 2 layers, just like the pattern shows, I build the bottom trying to use as much material as possible from the plaid shirt so no following the pattern as much there =] and for the pictures, I just had to throw a cute little yellow sash for the stack of things I have not listed in my shop yet – I know, I know!



strapless up-cycled dress
1 Trace the pattern pieces from the pattern sheet. I used a 6XL men’s plaid shirt for the skirt and a medium-sized denim shirt for the top. I made the HEM of the SKIRTS 3 inches shorter than the original pattern pieces intend.

Diagram: Follow the diagram to make a full-sized pattern piece for the upper skirt tier (a) and the lower skirt tier (b) as follows: On a large sheet of wrapping paper – the upper edge and the right edge must form a right angle – stretch a thread from the upper right corner to mark the radius® for the upper edge of the skirt tier and the radius (R1) for the hem edge. Or measure the length of the overskirt panel down from the upper edge at several points and then connect the points in an even curve to mark the hem edge.

Seam and hem allowances: Seams and edges 1.5 cm (5/8 in), hems on skirt and skirt tiers 6 cm (23/8 ins), no allowance on lower edges of tulle skirt panels.



strapless up-cycled dress
2Men’s Denim Shirt-  Make sure that you wash and iron the shirt before cutting so you can have the best results with your pieces.

  • 1 center front, on a fold 1x
  • 2 side front 2x
  • 3 center back, on a fold 1x
  • 4 side back 2x

I cut 4 pieces of the N2 pattern using the front for 2 and the back for the other 2.

a) upper skirt tier, according to the diagram, 2x, on a fold,
b) lower skirt tier, according to the diagram, 2x, on a fold.



upcycled dress
3 I cut the 2 pieces of the N1 pattern also using the back of the shirt. The back pieces were cut from the sleeves of the shirt. She actually merged the two back pieces into 1 piece and just cut one long piece.

I used the same shirt for the front and as the liner of the top and it worked perfectly. I wear a 36B bra and used the biggest pattern piece for the top and had enough space in the back to add a zipper with no problem.


the skirt sewing
4For the skirt part, I cut the sleeves off the shirt and measure 15 inches from the bottom, which is the longer she could cut still having the pockets on the next layer of the double layer skirt.
For the second layer, I used the pockets on the shirt and the buttons and button holders, so I cut the longest possible height, so the back top of the shirt will be the line to cut across. I then cleaned the sides so it looks like a rectangle.

I un-sewed the sleeves and used that as some extra material for the bottom layer, so I added these pieces right after I cut the button and buttonholes form the front.


making the shirt
5 I added some leftover fabric on the top of the longest layer to complete the height and gather the layers to match the width of my waistline (“which is more like under my breasts than waist”)

I finally added both layers to the top part and sewed a zipper to complete everything =] I did wear a simple sash to complete the dress.


TIP – How to stitch under skirt tier to outer skirt tier: Gather the upper edge of the lower skirt tier to match the edge of the tulle skirt. Stitch lower skirt tier to tulle skirt, 50 cm (193/4 ins) above lower edge, with the wrong side facing the right side.

front view close up

final dress

This was so much fun! I loved that I could actually enjoy a little bit of sun right after finishing work at the ski resort – did I mention I live in the mountains? well, here you can see a little bit of the city far away =]
I have to thank Ken for taking these pictures and Curly for just stand there LOL – they are both so awesome!
I can't wait for summer and for all the sewing/crafting ahead of me! But first I need to catch up on work, Thankfully my wrist is getting better!

Also, if you want to see more upcycled dresses, check this one I made with the other shirts from this tutorial and this other dress I make from Ken's old undershirts.

I hope all of you are also enjoying this awesome spring weather. XOXO

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Wednesday 15th of February 2012

so nice and cute . i love it ^^

Jenna @ SpitzerStories

Monday 18th of April 2011

You have done such a beautiful job with this dress! I loooove it. It makes me excited for summer!


Sunday 17th of April 2011

Such a cute dress! you are awesome


Saturday 16th of April 2011

So cute! I love it!


Saturday 16th of April 2011

You are amazing. I can't believe you made that out of two shirts!!