From button down to ruffled tank top

In an effort to spend less money on clothing, I decided to remake (or refashion or upcycle, whatever term you want to use) a button-down women’s shirt I bought at the Goodwill in Bowling Green, Ohio. I love this Goodwill. I’ve been going there for years. I’ve bought random T-shirts, a full set of dishes (which I later found out were worth a lot of money — after I gave them away), records, shoes, purses… some of my favorite clothes in high school came from this Goodwill.

It was years ago that I bought three shirts there. All button downs, all plaid. The others will be making appearances.

(UPDATE: As Tasha points out in the comments, I used this tutorial as inspiration for this refashion.)

Here it was before my seam ripper, scissors and sewing machine got ahold of it:

So, I laid a tank top with a fit I like over the shirt and used tailor’s chalk to mark where to make cuts. Because the back of the tank top is higher than the scoop in the front, I drew half of it, made the cut and then folded it over and used it as a guide to cut the other side of the same:






After trying it on, I realized the neckline wasn’t symmetrical and the sides needed to be ripped out and resewn for a better fit. So, I undid the sides, and folded the shirt so the shoulders touched. This lined up my neckline so I could make it perfect! (If my procedure on this isn’t clear to someone who stumbles across this, just let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to explain better.)

I marked where to sew the sides by trying on the top in front of a mirror with the wrong side out. I marked where to sew with pins, took the top off and sewed it up.

I decided to put ruffles around the neckline. I cut the material for the ruffle from the sleeves. Plaid was perfect for this because it gives you a natural grid. I sewed a hem on my fabric for the ruffle (below, left). Then, I did a large basting stitch — no backstitching! — and pulled the top thread to create the ruffle.

NOTE: My mom told me that a much easier way to do a long ruffle like this is do zigzag stitch over waxed dental floss. Then you can pull the dental floss to create the ruffle.

I attached the ruffle, sewing it so the right side of your ruffle is against the inside of the shirt. (When you flip the ruffle to the outside, the seam will be under the ruffle.) To keep the ruffle from getting all out of place, I topstitched along the neckline seam to tack the ruffle down. Then I added a second ruffle on the front of the shirt (top stitching the ruffle underneath the other ruffle.

I tried it on thinking it would fit perfect! It didn’t. The armholes were loose, making it just OK. So, remembering a way to dart those types of issues, I added these:






You do this by trying on the shirt inside out and folding and pinning until the gap’s gone. The alteration should be smooth. I found placement a bit challenging with the plaid because it made the pattern hang a bit weird (lines going a bunch of different directions). So I had to play around with that a bit to get it to look good and fit good.

And here’s the final:

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tasha says:

    Is this from the tutorial you pinned on Pinterest? I really like it in a bolder plaid; it makes it more modern and less frilly.

    It looks awesome, but I want to see a picture of it on you! (And although the tip from your mom came too late for this top, you and I will both use it in the future.)

  2. Stephanie says:

    I realized I didn’t link to the tutorial, so I fixed that! I used it as a guide, but kinda did my own thing.

    I really like this plaid better than the one in the tute, too. This one’s a ladies shirt from Land’s End (and OH MAN was it well made, making it super difficult to rip out but worth whatever they’re charging for these). It’s actually kinda patriotic in a non-annoying way.

    Josh wasn’t here when I did this to take a pic of me, but I’ll get one and update.

    Mom said she mostly uses the zigzag/dental floss tip for ruffles for pillows. I kinda wonder what other tricks she knows that she hasn’t taught me yet. She taught me a super easy way to put zippers in that I’m sure will make an appearance at some point!

  3. Tasha says:

    Yes, teach me all the tricks! Zippers are a pain to install.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Not Mom’s way. She makes sleeves easy too.

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