How to Upcycle a Shirt to an Apron

Completed upcycled shirt to apron

Dress shirts for men or women can make such a fun upcycling project into an apron for messy fun times around the house or school. Giving an old garment new life and personality is a great creative project for all sewists.

What You’ll Need

Overhead view of materials laid out

Step 1:

Prep your shirt by giving it a good press to get rid of any unwanted wrinkles, this will make the sewing process easier.

Step 2: Removing the Sleeves

Take your pair of scissors and cut off the sleeves on the chest side of the seam where the sleeve is attached to the shirt, set sleeves aside.

Scissors cutting shirt sleeves along chest seam

 Step 3: Cut Side Seams

Using the rotary cutter and ruler, measure out ½ inch and cut up the side seams leaving the seam attached to the shirt.

Rotary cutter and ruler used to cut side seams

Next cut the shoulders and around the back of collar, leaving the seam attached to the shirt so you have a nice finished edge, stopping at the shoulder seam.

Scissors used to cut around shoulder of shirt

Scissors being used to cut around collar of shirt

Step 4: Cut Angle

Fold the shirt in half, right sides out. Using the rotary cutter and ruler again, make an angle from the bottom of the sleeve armseye to the top of the collar. At the top of the collar, snip in 1.4 of an inch to be able to turn a hem.

Rotary cutter and ruler used to cut folded shirt

Step 5: Create Straps

You will be using the sleeves to create the straps/ties for the apron. Press the sleeves well in half to have enough fold over. Cut one 2 inch x 20-22 inch section on the fold from each sleeve.

2 inch x 20-22 inch cut made in section of sleeve

Take your 2-inch strip and take the raw edges and fold into the center and press.

Iron pressing folded edges of 2-inch strip for apron straps

For the ends, fold in ¼ inch and press. Re-fold the strap so all raw edges are hidden.

An edge being folded in

At the sewing machine, you will need the Edgestitch Foot #10D for this project, my favorite foot.

I moved the needle to stitch position -3 and have the 9mm plate on the machine. Using the guide on the foot, start on the short end of the strap and sew to the longer end, stopping to pivot using the BERNINA Freehand system for each corner. Do this for both straps.

Close up view of Edgestitch Foot #10D in stitch position for strap

Step 6: Iron Apron Hems

At the ironing board, fold over the raw edges ¼ inch twice to encase the edge and wonder clip every few inches along the side seam. The side seam of the shirt should be the edge of the apron after folding in the hem.

Shirt edge on ironing board

At the top of the side seam insert a strap into the hem and Wonder Clip into place.

Strap inserted into hem and Wonder clip placed

Attach Edgestitch Foot #10D and engage Dual Feed.

Close up view of attached Edgestitch #10D

Using the center blade guide, sew down the hem from the neckline down to the bottom of the apron, removing the Wonder Clips as you go, don’t forget to use the Freehand System to pivot at the corner.

Machine being used to sew down the hem

In our house, we try to find new life in well-loved items, instead of buying new. We are now ready to get messy and not have to worry about ruining our clothes, which always means more fun in the end. Go out there and make messy and great memories.

Final result of Shirt to Apron project

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