Tutorial ~ Elastic Waistband Button-Up Shirt Refashion

by Destri on April 30, 2011

One of the reasons I love to refashion is I usually find the perfect fabric in a garment that would be impossible to find in a store.  That is the case with this shirt and last week’s.  The perfect color, fabric weight and drape, or design.  Plus I can pick the “fabric” up for a buck or two, not bad.  I saw a light blue junior XS shirt and new it would be an easy refashion, just sew up the sides a little, adjust the sleeves, cut off the bottom, add a casing and elastic…viola’ a new shirt!  Super quick and easy, another reason I love to refashion – all the hard work is done!  Follow me after the jump and I will show you how!

Button-Up Shirt With An Elastic Waistband Refashion


  • all your sewing stuff
  • button up shirt
  • shirt that fits the model well
  • 1/2 inch elastic

Okay, before we begin, you of course will not have the exact shirt I have.  So you’re design result will turn out a little different, just use your imagination!  The idea is to take a larger button-up shirt and bring it down to size, add an elastic waistband and use elements from the shirt to finish off the garment.  Even if you don’t know what exactly it is your going to do, just get started, and the ideas are bound to come :)

So for my shirt, it was not much bigger than a 4T.  I used a shirt that had the basic shape I wanted as my model, but you can get the same effect using a shirt that fits well.  I planned on making it a sleeve-less shirt, but then in the process decided to add a little cuff at the arms.

I started by lining up the shirts at the collar and then cutting the bottom off the larger shirt.  You want to leave enough extra length for the casing, about an inch and a half.

When cutting it down, I knew from my model shirt that I only needed to take a little off the sides, and then I just followed along the armhole seam. You do not want this shirt cut too slim or it will not allow for the gathered waistband we are going for.  Also, you need to leave a seam allowance of a half inch on each side.

Then I started looking at the cuffs on the sleeves that I cut off, and decided to use them.  I just cut the cuff right off the sleeve.  Your shirt may not have this detail, but you could easily cut long strips from the scrap you cut off the bottom and make your own.  Or you could use bias tape, just use your imagination!


First you will need to decide how you are going to finish the armholes.  I used a gathering stitch right along the top of the shoulder and gathered to create a little pouf, totally optional.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I didn’t get pics, so will just talk through it :).  I literally placed the shirt spread open with the right sides up and pinned the cuff right along the arm hole edge, overlapping about a half inch.  Then I sewed it in place. That was it!  Like I said you could use bias tape or make cuffs using the scrap of the shirt you cut off.

Now with the right sides together sew up the sides with a half inch seam allowance, and finish the edge with a zigzag or serge.  Start at the underarm at the cuff and sew down the length of the side.  When you are done it will leave a little sleeve like shown.

Next, lay the shirt open with the right side down on the ironing board.  With a hot iron fold the bottom over 1/4 of an inch and then over 3/4 of an inch and press.

Now sew the casing, making sure you are leaving the casing big enough for the elastic.  I like to sew on the front, but you could sew on the wrong side if you prefer.  You will leave the casing ends open to allow the elastic to thread through.

You can cut the elastic to measure the same as the model’s waist plus an inch, I waited and had to cut after.  Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and thread through the opening.

While pulling through, pin one end so that it doesn’t slip through.

Then pin at the other end.  If you already cut your elastic to size you will not have any hanging out like I did.  The end will be flush with the opening.

Now just sew the casing closed through the elastic, make sure to backstitch.

Trim the ends if needed and you’re finished!  Depending on the placement of your buttons, you may have a little opening on the bottom.  I was going to add a button, but when I put it on my little one it looked fine, so I left it ;).

I really hope I didn’t make that sound hard, because it was so easy.  If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer them there.

You can find the tutorial for the Twirling Whilst Standing Still Skirt here, and the Button Headband Tutorial is a fun one.

This time last year I was making simple bath salt pouches you can take into the shower or tub.  Our most popular post to date, I can’t believe it has been a year.  Crazy.  This is the perfect handmade gift for Mother’s Day!  They are also great for sloughing off all the dead winter skin to get legs ready for summer months.

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