Yellow Shirt Refashion: Redesign Gather Under Bust And Short Sleeves – Eco Fashion Sewing

Yellow Shirt Refashion: Redesign Gather Under Bust And Short Sleeves

By Mariana Kirova

This shirt refashion focuses on a very popular women’s shirt design from years ago with distinct gather under bust and short cap sleeves. If you have it somewhere in your wardrobe, take this oldie out and make it favourite again!

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For those of you, Pinterest lovers, you can get the pictorial from the left with all the main steps.

Just click the Pinterest share button of the post and save.

I don't know if the word "pictorial" is used for that, but these particular inspirational visuals are becoming my favourite (despite they need quite some time to create). You may see them in my future articles more, hope they'd be helpful.


Before the shirt refashion

The garment for this shirt refashion was a thrift find in yellow hue that I just love. Also, it matches my hair and skin tone perfectly. What else so to cut it up and keep loving it;) ?

The light  cotton material is excellent for Perth’s summer or a holiday in hot destinations. However, last photos of me wearing this shirt are grumbling that to keep the beautiful colour in my wardrobe I have to refashion it.


Cap/short sleeves & gather under bust



Sneak Peak Of "After"


The front


The back

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What should it be next?

Sometimes the garment speaks for ​itself and tells you what needs to be changed.

In my case the gather under the bust was ​making unwanted volume in tummy area and the cap/short sleeves weren’t doing any good to my arms too. All these things I wasn't happy with lead to what exactly should be changed in this shirt refashion. As always, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to rework the design and make it a bit more interesting and fun as well;)

One of my husband’s shirts had a big tear on one of the shoulders and was waiting a cut up for awhile. The medium weight woven cotton material had an interesting complimentary print offering the best matching colours I could wish for.


Colour-coordinated men's shirt used as additional material


Tear on the sholder

Usually it is very difficult to find exactly the same colour to mach when upcycling. Therefore a combination of adding material in complimentary colours sounds much more realistic goal (and most times appears better at the end;).

All this made easy to decide what to change:

  • FRONT: Removing the front gather under bust and flattening the tummy area
  • SLEEVES: Extending the length of the short sleeves
  • BACK: Creating new back piece for interesting design (and avoiding the transparency of the original material of showing my bra back)
  • RE-DESIGN: Adding an embellishment, to make the new material flow better into the design, but also to make the design more interesting

Tools & Materials

  • Woman’s shirt with gather under bust and short sleeves (or cap sleeves)
  • Colour coordinated man’s shirt (long or short sleeves)
  • Colour coordinated or complimentary thread and ribbons
  • Basic sewing tools, including seam ripper and snips
  • Marking tools: air erasable pen or chalk, ruler and tape measure
  • Sewing machine and overlocker/serger

The Method

The process includes four main steps one at a time:

  1. The front
  2. The back
  3. The sleeves
  4. The embellishment

1. Reworking The Front

Cut a panel from the man’s shirt with the button placket, sew the placket at the cut side, then overlock/serge.


Cut the front low of the woman's shirt (tummy area) and sew the new panel. If you still have distance between gather under the bust and the new panel, like on mine example, cover it with material from any of both shirts that looks good. Then embellish, especially if you are going to close seams now.


I top stitched long strips from the main yellow shirt (ex tie belt for under the bust).

Then I added lace ribbons and cut outs from the man’s shirt.

Read more about the embellishment and how to make the trim below in step #4.


2. Making The New Back

Undo the original sleeves. Undo also darts at the back piece of original (woman's) shirt, if any. Press.


Extend the centre back panel to match the length of new panel

Cut the original at a pretend yoke level and transfer the piece to make the new back piece. Add 2cm (3/4in) cm at top of the new back (for both seam allowances) and then cut (you may need to readjust the hem too).

Cut middle panel from the original shirt and extend at top to match length of the new back. Stitch it to the new back, overlock.

  • You can incorporate the loops at this stage, just before sewing the middle centre back panel to the new back (for enclosed finish of the loops' ends). See below after back photos.

Fold both sides of inserted middle panel. You may want to strengthen (from the wrong side) the folds where the loops will be attached. Press strips of fusible interfacing to do that. Make the loops (check step #4 below how).


Decide where to place the loops for lacing, then pin and attach them.

  • Incorporate the loops before sewing the middle centre back panel to the new back. This will give cleaner finish because will enclose loops' ends (I didn't think of this detail up until got into sewing the loops).

After sewing the loops stitch the back to the pretend yoke. Overlock. When sewing it you can inserts a wider middle loop, if you wish (view on the picture above).

Finish with sewing the back darts on the inserted new back and closing the side seams (sew + overlock).

3. Reworking The Cap/Short Sleeves

Unstitch the cuff band and press one of the original sleeves.


Trace around old sleeve to make new


Transfer the head curve of the original sleeve on the new material and cut. Then slide carefully down at the new desired length, trace out the bottom of the sleeve and cut.


Make a mirror piece for the other short sleeve. When done, gather at top head on both sleeves, set them in with pins and sew. Overlock.

Finally, attach each cuff to the corresponding new extended short sleeve. I also added small bow decoration.

4. Making The Embellishment

Make a mini pocket from one of the original sleeves. Make sleeve head the bottom of the pocket.

I even used the original gather from the sleeve.

The 3-dimensional mini pocket positioned at lower right of the front (next to new panel) made the design cute and playful, which I really like.


The best part is that you can add whatever you wish according to your taste or whim at the moment;)

Create a free-form flower from whatever small scraps are left and sew to the shirt. If you are wondering you can make it removable as a brooch (by adding a brooch pin at the back) and please your both, “with or without”, impulses.

TIP: Make the perfect matching trim

Use the secondary material (the man’s shirt) to make your trim.

  • Cut out the "small" seams of the shirt (under sleeve, shoulder seams) or the hem to make the back loops and any loose trim like that on the front.​
  • To make rest of the trim (to embellish chest & top back areas) when cutting leave 1-2cm (1/2in or less) material on one of the seam sides (don’t forget to mirror for left and right body sides).
  • Specifically, the side and the armhole seams cut continuously are curvy and sit real well around chest, shoulder and back.
  • Any colour matching ribbon from your stash or nearest charity shop would be suitable, too.

Using the seam remnants like so will, first, save you lots of time unstitching at the beginning, and second, will convert even the unthinkable wastage in beautiful and interesting embellishment.

Pattern Tips

  • Add seam allowance wherever you cut to retain same garment measurements (make your seam allowance same width as on the original woman’s shirt).
  • When transferring the short sleeves make sure you transfer a pair (“mirror” pieces for left and right sleeve, most fabrics have right and wrong sides).
  • Cut the new front panel depending on man’s shirt button placket. Only after that cut a "hole" in tummy area in the original womens’ shirt (thus assuring the “hole” will match the new panel).
  • Make sure the “hole” you cut in woman’s shirt will match the newly made panel by defying the finished measurements and then adding seam allowances both on panel and the “hole”. Extend the panel (add outward seam allowances), but make the “hole”smaller (add inward seam allowances).
  • The front panel could be reshaped for better fit around the hip. For that add crosswise 1cm (3/8in) on each side of the panel (at hem level). So instead of rectangle you would cut a trapeze from the man’s shirt. This will add flare to the hip and reshape the boxy shirt. For more noticeable flare, on the side seams of the new back add further 1cm at left and 1cm at right and blend to waist as usual.

The Look "After"

This is the project at the end. I even got the chance to wear it at an eco fashion event right after it was done;) And frankly, the pleasure of wearing your own work is absolutely fantastic!

Don't delay yours and start thinking of your shirt refashion today!


Front view


Back view


I hope this tutorial will make you dig out any outdated shirt from your wardrobe and make it worth and loved again!

Happy refashioning,


I love when you share it if you liked it! Thank you;)

Mariana Kirova

Mariana is passionate about garment upcycling and helping others making their own upcycled clothing. Graduated with Award in garment construction from WAIFT, Perth WA, Mariana is not a main stream eco fashion designer. She makes unique eco-friendly garments from unwanted clothes and materials and believes that small fashion professionals and DIY sewers can embrace sustainability in garment creation, thus changing the fashion world for good.

  • Betty Daggett says:

    I do LOVE it. Great tutorial. Love all the photos.

  • Mary T. says:

    Fabulous restyle Marianna, and thanks for explaining it so well and the step by step pictures!! The design from the man’s shirt matches/compliments the original beautifully!!

    • So happy to see you on the blog, Mary!

      Yes, long time before this refashion I was secretly hoping my husband will let go the shirt because of the rip. I didn’t offer him to repair it either (and he was very kind to give it away for my projects;)…

      Have a lovely day!

  • The two shirts were made for each other, Mariana. Fabulous refashioning.

  • […] in a yellow hue that I just love. Also, it matches my hair and skin tone perfectly. So I had to cut it up and keep loving […]

  • Angelika Ramisch says:

    great, i like the result

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