How to Make an Old Shirt Look New Again


Women's shirts can get old for one of three reasons: 1) the fabric is a little worn; 2) they're dated or 3) you're sick of looking at them. Using crafts and information, however, old things can have a completely new look. All of these ideas are fun and fairly easy to do so let your imagination run wild and enjoy.

Things You'll Need

  • Lace
  • Ribbons
  • Buttons
  • Beads
  • Fabric paint
  • Dye
  • Old jewelry

Fix things up with lace or ribbons. If the cuffs and collar are looking a little battle weary, dress them up with a little glam. Fold a wide ribbon or lacy edging in half and slip it over the cuff. Stitch with a machine or by hand along the edge of the bric-a-brac you've chosen and close up the side at both ends. Add the trim to the collar to match. You can also add the same trim to any pockets or to a hemline if your shirt doesn't get tucked in. For a nice pattern with explicit instructions for using lace and edging read the information on fabric embellishment at Bayou Bags.

Cut the cuffs for another look. Make that long sleeved shirt into 3/4-sleeves or short sleeves for a different look. Pick a shirt with the sleeve length you want and measure it, adding 1 inch to turn under. You can also tailor a straight shirt. Turn it inside out and pin it at both sides evenly to fit the curve of your waist. Start at the arm pit and pin downward, making sure that you don't pin it too tight. You just remade your shirt into a whole new creation. Look for the simplest of directions at

Decorate your shirt with buttons and beads. Make simple flowers out of buttons by sewing a large button on the shirt and surrounding it with six smaller buttons. Do one or several in a multicolored or one color look. Use buttons you already have or salvage them off something that you were going to throw out for a frugal makeover. For wonderful free patterns go to the Ruby Glen website.

Paint a little splash of color onto your shirt. Again, you can trace a design, iron one on or draw one yourself if you're the artsy type. A design down the front around the buttons, collar and sleeve cuffs or edges is a nice look, but so is a splashy picture across the front. You can choose a motif like sailing, a street scene or flowers to get you started. Check out the website.

Dye your clothes a new color or tie dye a whole new pattern into them. There are lots of websites with instructions for this to choose from, but I like the simple how-to at Add a lace-up look to your shirt. Use the tutorial about this on You can always use old pieces of jewelry to add to bead work or to just decorate with.

Wear your shirt differently. The easiest way to repurpose a shirt is to pair it up with other things. Put a tank top or a sexy camisole underneath or slip a tee or tank over it. Fold the sleeves up and add a long sleeved tee underneath. Add a vest, a belt, a long scarf or lacy shawl to it to step it up into a new look.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment--there are so many ways of handcrafting clothing. Mix and match things and see what works for you.
  • Always walk around in the malls and see what colors and styles are popular, and what kinds of embellishments are out to give you stylish ideas.
  • Practice on a piece of clothing you don't want. If you like what you've done, cut it out and add it to another piece of clothing later on.

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