When you see a cute shirt in a catalog that's out of your price range, don't just keep turning the pages. Instead, check out your closet or a nearby thrift shop for an item to transform into a similar look and feel. To make this trendy Anthropologie swing top, look for a button-down shirt with a gingham pattern.
Transform a Plain Shirt Into a Trendy Swing Top
Things You'll Need
Plain button-down shirt
Washable marking pen
1 yard of fabric that matches the shirt
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine with a 90/14 needle
Start with a plain button-down shirt. To determine the new empire waistline, put the shirt on and look in the mirror or have a friend mark 1 or 2 inches under your bust. Mark this line with a pin.
Take the shirt off and measure the distance from the bottom of the shirt to the pin. Mark this distance around the shirt with a washable marking pen.
Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut along the marked line.
If your plain shirt has a collar, cut it off from the collar band with a sharp pair of scissors. Cut as close to the collar band as possible so you won't have to worry about fraying.
Cut two pieces of matching fabric that are 45 by 14 inches. These will be used to create the new bottom of the shirt.
If the fabric you'd like to use for the bottom is new and slightly stiff, you can soften it first by soaking it in white vinegar overnight, then washing and drying the fabric a few times. If it is still too stiff, try soaking it in salt water overnight, then washing and drying it.
To finish the inside edges of the new bottom of the shirt, create a french seam by first pinning the short sides with the wrong sides together.
Sew a 1/4-inch seam along both short sides using a 90/14 needle and a medium stitch length. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew.
Fold the sewn edge over so the raw edge is on the inside now and press along the sewn edge. Repeat on the other short side.
Sew along the folded edge with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Do this on the other side also.
Open the fabric and press the new seams to the side.
Now press under 1/2 inch twice along the bottom edge of the new bottom piece to create a hem.
Pin the new hem in place.
Sew close to the inside fold of the hem. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew.
Then sew again close to the bottom fold to create a double-stitched hem.
Change the machine to the longest stitch.
Baste around the top edge of the bottom piece. Mark the centers and the sides with a washable marker.
Pull on the basting stitch to gather the top edge of the bottom piece. Pin the top gathered edge to the bottom raw edge of the shirt with the right sides together. Match the sides and the centers.
Sew the top piece to the bottom piece, removing the pins as you sew.
If your shirt has pockets, remove them with a seam ripper, and you now have a new top similar to the pricey one in the catalog for a fraction of the cost.