clothing tutorials

DIY: Off-the-Shoulder Top (from a long sleeve shirt)

I know, I know…New York just had a snow storm, and I’m over here making summer tops. Something tells me that I’m ready for the cold weather to be done. I still have a couple winter DIY’s brewing for the next few months – but when I thought of this idea, I was too excited to not jump in on it.
This project re-purposes a long sleeve shirt into a fun and flirty off-the-shoulder top. I’ve been really into stripes lately, so I’m stoked I was able to snag the perfect shirt at Old Navy for barely $8. I already own quite a few striped Old Navy shirts, so I knew it’d be the best place to find one. Obviously, you can always check out the thrift store, or even your own closet.

The best part is that it requires little to no sewing. I do use a sewing machine in a few steps, but it’s basic enough that you can use hand stitching. Keep reading to see how I made it! 


– Long Sleeve Shirt
(In a size that fits you snugly. I strongly recommend a stretchy jersey top.
 I purchased mine at Old Navy for barely $8) ***
– Fabric Scissors
– Straight Pins, Thread, Sewing Machine (or a Sewing Needle for hand sewing)
– Iron and Fusible Webbing Tape
*** I totally understand and realize that everyone has differently shaped bodies, meaning that the “wrap around” part may or may not work for you given the sleeve’s length – even if the torso does. With that said, here’s an idea: buy a second shirt, in either the same size or a larger size. You can combine the sleeves together, or use the sleeves from the second shirt. If you don’t end up using the second shirt, you can always return it – but at least you know you’ll have the same exact fabric on hand. If your original shirt is thrifted or something you already own, try scoping out a contrasting or matching second shirt that you can snag the sleeves from! Might as well have fun with it.
If you’ve never worked with fusible webbing tape, don’t worry! Fusible webbing tape is a no fuss, no-sew alternative, and can fuse two fabrics together when heat is applied. It’s available in various widths. Just be careful and try not to get any on the actual iron.
1) Cut off the top portion of the shirt, starting at the underarm. Aside from the fact that I like stripes, this particular shirt’s pattern provides a built in cutting guide. If your shirt is striped, simply cut along a stripe. 
2) Cut the sleeves off from the top portion, right along the seam.


3) Cut away the curved shoulder parts so that there’s a straight edge at the end of each sleeve. Again, you can use the stripes as a guide if your shirt is striped.
You’ll be left with something like this!
4) The two sleeves are what will wrap around your shoulders. The photo above shows how the sleeves should be placed in order to do just that. The widest ends will be sewn together. Fold them in half so that the opposite ends (the sleeve openings) meet in the middle. You’ll also be sewing those together.


5) Pin the wider ends together, “front” sides facing each other.


6) Sew!
7) Pin the sleeve openings together. Again, “front” sides facing each other.
8)  Sew. Tie off the threads and cut away the excess.
9) You’ll be left with something like this.
10) From your leftover fabric (from the top part) – cut a strip measuring at least 10 inches (25.4 cm) long and 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) wide.
11) You’ll be tying it around the front of the off-the-shoulder portion. In other words, where the two sleeve openings were sewn together. Lay the strip of fabric right on top of where they meet.
Wrap the ends under.
12) Bring the ends back over to the top and tie a knot. Wait until later to cut away the excess – just in case any changes need to be made!
Remember the torso portion that you set aside? Bring that back and lay it in between the shoulder wrap. Both pieces should overlap about 1.5 inches (3.81 cm).

13) Cut a strip of fusible webbing tape to fit in between the torso and shoulder portions. Mine is shown fairly close to the outer edge, but I ended up moving it closer to the center. You want to make sure that there is still enough room for the arm hole (right under my hand). I’d recommend safety pinning the pieces together to gauge how long the tape should be and where you should place it.
14) And another piece for the other side. (Again, before I ironed, I ended up moving it closer to the middle)
15) Iron the pieces together on a firm surface. An ironing board is the best bet!
16) Add a longer tape of fusible webbing for the back piece. I would recommend slipping the top onto the end of an ironing board for ease and efficiency. The knot in the front will also get in the way, so this will allow you to iron the back portion easily. 
Turn the top inside out and iron along the inside to ensure that the tape has fully melted.
17) Once the tape has bonded the fabrics and cooled completely, cut the excess fabric from the front knot. You can secure the knot with a few drops of fabric glue and/or a couple hand stitches.
Done and done! This is a great way to re-use an old long sleeved shirt – or in my case, create a top that you love, but haven’t been able to find. 



Now if it could only fast forward to beach weather, that’d be pretty awesome. 
Xo, Kirsten