I’m going to to kick off the month with a tutorial for taking an old men’s button-down shirt and turning it into a boy’s short-sleeved shirt.  This technique is simple and quick, and best of all, removes all of my least favorite things about making boy’s shirts: making the button placket, sewing all those buttons and buttonholes (well, almost) and hemming!  This drastically cuts down on the time it takes to complete a shirt which, for me, makes all the difference when it comes to getting it done.

Today I’ll show how to make a basic shirt (above), and tomorrow I’ll show you how to add the western flap pockets (below). 

 
To make this shirt, you will need a retired men’s button-down shirt and some lightweight fusible interfacing as well as the usual sewing equipment.  Let’s get started!

 T U T O R I A L : 
Men’s Shirt -> Boy’s Short-Sleeved Shirt
 Hey! Don’t take text or images from this tutorial without permission!  Thanks.
Step 1: Make/find your pattern pieces
Nearly every pattern for the basic boy’s short-sleeved shirt consists of four main pieces: the sleeve, the back, the front, and the collar.  For this shirt, we’ll just be using the front, back, and sleeve.  You can get these pieces by either tracing a boy’s shirt you already have or using a commercial pattern (a few examples: KwikSew 2973, Simplicity 4760, Butterick 3475).  I used the Kai Shirt pattern from Heather Ross’ Weekend Sewing; here you can see pieces for the sleeve (top), the front (lower left), and the back (lower right), traced onto tracing paper from their condensed versions in the book.

 



Step 2: Cut out the front
Lay the men’s shirt on a flat surface, button it up, and smooth out the wrinkles.  Find the “center front” on your front pattern piece.  This is usually clearly marked on the pattern piece or has X’s where the buttons will go.  Position the pattern piece so that this line is directly over the buttons on the men’s shirt.  Next move the pattern piece down 1 inch (see line on pattern piece).  Why? Since your shirt is already hemmed you don’t need the hem allowance, which is almost always about an inch, give or take (Note: you may also want to pay attention to where the buttons fall on the pattern pieces; perhaps moving the pattern up or down just a little bit more to optimize button location).  Trace with a marking pen.  Turn the pattern over and repeat for the other front side.  Cut these out, being careful not to cut into the back of the shirt.



Step 3: Cut the back
Fold the big shirt down the center back.  Place the back pattern piece along the fold, shifting it down 1 inch as with the front.  Trace and cut out.  



Step 4: Cut out sleeve
Smooth out the sleeve.  Fold sleeve pattern piece in half and place fold of sleeve directly over fold in sleeve.  Again, you don’t need the hem allowance, so move the pattern down so that the sleeve’s edge ends at the pattern’s hem line (Note: the sleeve hem line is usually marked or easy to find by the presence of an angle; I’m pointing to it with the pencil in the picture below).



Step 5: Sew shoulder seams
Take note of the pattern’s seam allowance.  Button the two front pieces together.  With the right sides facing, sew back to front at shoulders using the specified seam allowance.  

Step 6: Mark and measure collar seam line
Trace a line at the neckline seam allowance using a marking pen.  Unbutton the shirt and make sure it goes all the way to the edges of the button plackets.  Using a tape measure or piece of string, measure this line (it equals the collar length).



Step 7: Cut collar and collar interfacing
Cut out a rectangle on the bias for the collar (note the pattern is diagonal below).   The width of the rectangle should be 2″ plus 2 times the seam allowance.  The length of the rectangle one inch LONGER than the collar length you just measured

Example:  If you measured the collar length to be 14.5″ in Step 6 and the seam allowance was 1/2″:
WIDTH = 2″ + 2(1/2″) = 3″
LENGTH = 1″ + 14.5″ = 15.5″ 
So you would cut a rectangle 15.5″ x 3″.  

Cut a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing 2″ wide by the collar length (so 14.5″ x 2″ in our example).  Center the interfacing over the collar fabric and iron to fuse. Note: the collar interfacing is optional, but it prevents the collar from flopping over while worn.  

Step 8: Prepare collar
Fold collar in half lengthwise with interfacing out.  Mark a curved line beginning 1/2″ from each edge and curving towards center of collar.  

 
Sew along line, back-stitching at each end.  Clip along seam and turn right-side-out.  

Press, tucking sew allowance under along one side of collar.  

 
Step 9: Attach collar to shirt

Pin collar to right side of neckline, with the folded side of collar facing away from shirt.  Sew along seam allowance.  

Clip seam.

Turn and press collar towards inside of shirt, tucking raw edges into collar.  

  
Pin collar in place.  Stitch collar down close to edge.  
 

Step 10:  Attach sleeves
With right sides facing, attach sleeves to body of shirt.  Press seam towards body of shirt and topstitch (even though it adds time, topstitching really makes it look nice!) 



Step 11:  Sew side seams
With right sides facing, sew side seams and sleeve underarm seams.  Press, turn right-side-out, and admire!

Most men’s shirts have a pretty big gap at the bottom where there is no button.  To adapt this to a boy’s shirt, you may have to add another button and buttonhole at the bottom of the shirt (as I did here).  If you really loathe buttonholes, you could always sew in a small snap, but in my opinion this is more aesthetically pleasing.

That’s all for today!  Tomorrow we’ll add western flap pockets.  And don’t forget to head over to MADE to see what Dana’s up to today!

Categories: CELEBRATE THE BOY, tutorial
35 Comments
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35 Responses to Tutorial by Rae: Make a Men’s Shirt into a Boy’s Shirt

  1. Aunt LoLo says:

    Yea!!!! I've turned hubs' old shirts into dresses for the girl…and now I can make shirts for the boy instead. Thanks!

  2. Stephanie says:

    What a great idea! I can see perfectly matched dad and son shirts now!

  3. Eagle Loft says:

    Wow, what a great idea!! I'm off to raid my husband's closet…

  4. Leah says:

    Thanks so much! I can't for nap time so I can try it

  5. LiEr says:

    Very cool! Very clever to use already-there cuffs, hems and buttons! All that time saved! And those mandarin collars are so smart on little boys!

  6. Homespun Momma says:

    I love the idea of celebrating the boy! There are always so many items out there for girls and it is hard to find super cute little boy stuff! Thanks for inspiring me to get creative and make something for my little man to wear!

  7. annie2006 says:

    brill tutorial

  8. Mirre says:

    Hi Rae, great tutorial!
    I did the same last year, but was even lazier and used bias tape. It worked great and Linus still wears his shirt… I love a project that turns out right :)
    Here's the link: http://kisskus.typepad.com/kisskus/2009/04/make-over.html

  9. dana says:

    oooo Rae, I love this version of a shirt! What a cool collar idea! excited, excited, excited over here. Because I need another thing to sew right now….

  10. Anna says:

    That is way to cute! Thanks for the tute! :) Now I need to go find some boys…

  11. Andrea says:

    Love it! I need to go thrift shopping for some shirts now ;) .

  12. Carol says:

    How clever, I love it! I just found your blog, I'm going to follow you! Stop by and visit me sometime!
    http://songberries.blogspot.com

  13. Jennifer says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I've got a bunch of my husbands shirts saved 'cause I wanted to make shirts for my little guy but didn't know how to go about it. Thank you!

  14. Astrid says:

    Hi Rae – I love your new celebration, and this looks like a wonderful tutorial! :) As I don't have boys, I'll pass on this one, but I can't wait to see what everyone makes! Happy sewing!

  15. Corey~living and loving says:

    This is wonderful. I just might try one for my girl though….cause I'm crazy like that. :)

    have a great day.

  16. Ana says:

    I was just trying to figure out how to do exactly this last night!! Without much success I should add, this is fabulous. Thank you!

  17. Brittany says:

    Oh, it turned out great! It's so cute! It looks so much simpler than what I'm trying to do.

  18. Claudia Almandoz Gerbolini says:

    Hi! I´ve been waiting for you and Dana to start Celebrating the Boy, I´m so exited. I´ve actually made this type of shirt for my 9 year old…you should check it out!(just that he always asks for rockin´versions of everything I make…that´s just his nature)
    http://www.handmadeconamor.blogspot.com
    under the "little ones" tag. I´ll be logging in often and I´ll share as soon as i get something done…Luck! Clau

  19. Bethany says:

    YAY!! That is awesome! thanks so much for doing nothing but boy stuff!! I have three boys and it is always hard to find cute things to make :)

  20. sjones says:

    YAY!! I have three boys and have been waiting for more boy stuff! I put a link to your blog on my blog!

  21. Candace @ Candace Creations says:

    WOW this is so creative!!! Just found your blog today after seeing this featured on U=Create! LOVE IT! You've got a new follower!

    http://www.candacecreations.blogspot.com

  22. Kylie says:

    Thanks so much – I am really looking forward to seeing what the two of you put together this month. I have blogged about you celebration on my blog.

  23. Sara says:

    Oh PERFECT. I have been trying to fit the pieces on, I never thought of using the same buttonholes. Not only will there be enough fabric, but I don't have to deal with making buttonholes/sewing on buttons.

  24. Holly says:

    you are brilliant. just the type of sewing I like to do–recycled AND simplified!

  25. Grandma says:

    Kudos1 I have sewn for over 50 years (although I had all girls) and NEVER would I have thought of this! You are so clever. You young girls amaze me!!!

  26. Jenny says:

    I just finished this shirt, with the collar, and it is so cute!! The only problem… I put the buttons on the "girl" side. Hope no one notices.

  27. CraftCrave says:

    Thank you! This blog post will be advertised on CraftCrave in the Handcraft category today (look for timestamp: [14 Feb 01:00pm GMT]).

  28. ginger says:

    Thanks Rae. I just used your shirt placket tutorial to make cuffs for my little man's long sleeve shirt. http://chazandginger.blogspot.com/2010/02/babies-buttons.html

  29. Jolene says:

    Thank you SO much for this tutorial. I just made one for my 5yo son, but cheated with the collar (I reused the original collar, just folded it in at the sides to resize it to fit the boy's shirt).

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

  30. Ylime says:

    Hi Rae,

    This is so great! I've featured it in a boy's handmade clothing spring wardrobe roundup on my blog, The Handmade Experiment. http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/must-have-monday-boys-spring-wardrobe/ Check it out and let me know what you think. If you're interested, feel free to grab one of my featured on link buttons from my left side bar.

    Thanks,
    Emily

    PS if you ever do a tutorial or a pattern on these overalls LET ME KNOW! :)

  31. Kim says:

    I just wanted to say I made one of these last week. It was my first ever shirt attempt, so it was a good thing to start with.
    I used a snap for the collar and the bottom. But I also used an extra button to look like there was a button there. I have an old treadle machine that has no button hole option, so I cheat when I can.

    Thank you for such clear instructions.

  32. Jenn says:

    hi Rae! just wanted you to know that i posted a link to your tutorial on my blog today.

  33. shantel says:

    Cute, cute, cute! I am featuring this on my blog!
    seemesew.blogspot.com

  34. ARS says:

    Can you upload a step by step tutorial on how to cut and stitch conventional shirt for men.

  35. けいわぽ says:

    Performed anyone actually simply just do a comparison of all the large involving tens of millions in

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