The Button Up Refashion Swap


I am so excited to finally be sharing a project that has been months in the works: The Button Up Refashion Swap. The idea to organize a refashion swap with a group of awesome bloggers bounced around in my head for a long time before I actually reached out to my friend Melissa and asked what she thought. She was all on board, and teamed up with me to invite 8 more amazing refashion and sewing bloggers to participate in this first (maybe of more?!) refashion swap. I’d love to introduce you to the participants:

Jennifer of Grainline Studio

Krista of Lazy Saturdays

Liz of Cotton & Curls

Megan of Megan Nielsen Designs

Melissa of I Still Love You

Miranda of One Little Minute (that’s me!)

Miriam of MadMim

Kate of See Kate Sew

Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch

Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking

The premise is simple: Each of these 10 awesome bloggers began with a basic button up shirt and refashioned it into something wonderful for her randomly assigned partner, creating a tutorial of the process. The only rule was to begin with a button up. Each participant was free to add or take away whatever she wanted to create a fun, new look. Today those tutorials are all published, showing off 10 new ways to refashion a simple button up! Make sure to check out what everyone came up with!

Now, let me show you the fun refashion that I created for the darling Kate of See Kate Sew:

Kate is adorable. She always looks put together and fresh. And she always (okay, almost always) wears dresses! Her blog is full of awesome refashions, sewing tutorials, and great ideas. She also has a little boy who she sews and refashions for, which is a wealth of ideas for me with my boys!

 I knew that I wanted to make her something she would love and want to wear so I told her my idea to create a color blocked dress with a peter pan collar. She gave me the thumbs-up, and mentioned she also loves pleats… So, pleats she got! I used two mens XL button up shirts for this refashion, one chambray and one plain white. Using the button plackets of both shirts allowed for a simple transition from white to blue. And I love the blue collar. It’s super cute, right?!

After finishing our refashions, we sent them off, criss-crossing the country (with fingers crossed for a good fit, as we all worked from measurements.) Next week, you will get a chance to see each of the refashions modeled by it’s new owner as we do a little blog hop of the finished products. Here’s the schedule for the blog hop:

“Maternity” Monday, May 21st: Lizzie of Cotton & Curls, Krista of Lazy Saturdays (these two are both expecting!!)

Tuesday, May 22nd: Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch, Kate of See Kate Sew

Wednesday, May 23rd: Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking, Miranda of  One Little Minute

Thursday, May 24th: Miriam of  MadMim, Melissa of  I Still Love You

Friday, May 25th: Megan of Megan Nielsen Design, Jennifer of Grainline Studio

I can’t wait to see how Kate looks in her new color blocked dress!

Want to make one of your own? I broke the tutorial for this dress into 6 sections, to make it easier to follow along.

First up, the collar:

1. Unpick the collar from the shirt, leaving the collar band intact 2. Round off the points of the collar, creating the peter pan shape 3. Cut the arms off of the blue shirt, fold a piece in half, and lay the rounded collar leaf on top 4. Stitch around the rounded edge of the collar leaf, as close to the edge as possible, then trim the excess fabric off to 1/8″ or less 5. Flip the second layer of blue fabric over on top of the collar, covering it 6. Top stitch around the rounded edge of the collar, and trim the base with pinking shears 7. Insert the base of the newly re-covered collar back into the collar base, and pin in place 8. Stitch along the edge of the collar base, securing the new, blue, peter pan collar into place. (This could be a cool refashion by itself!!)

Now, for the bodice I used my dress form. It’s a nice tool, but you can totally complete a similar refashion without one. You will need a helper or a tailors pen to help you mark the fit on yourself. Here we go!

The bodice, part one:

1. Carefully unpick the pocket and iron to restore thread holes 2. Cut off both sleeves at the seams, and slice up both side seams (leave shoulder seams intact) 3. Unpick the base of the back from the yolk, and then re-attach after flattening the center pleat 4. Put the shirt on the dress form and cut off the shirt at the natural waist

The bodice, part two:

 1. Flip the shirt inside-out and pin to a good fit along the side seams 2. Also, pin along a diagonal line from the bust to the side seam to create a cool dart for the bust 3. Stitch along the pin lines, turn right side out and check the fit. Adjust as needed.

The skirt, part one:

 1. Cut your blue shirt straight across at the underarms and measure both white and blue pieces together to figure out the correct desired skirt length 2. Cut the bottom of the white shirt and the top of the blue shirt to even the edges. Unbutton both shirts and match the button placket up with right sides together 3. Pin the shirt at each end, and at the side seams, creating darts to narrow the width of one or the other shirt, if the sizes are slightly different (in this refashion, I eased a little out of the top of the blue to meet the side seams of the white) 4. Stitch around the edge, joining the two skirt pieces 5. Flip right sides up, press with an iron, and topstitch the seam 6. Even the hemline of the blue shirt (if you want) and hem to desired length.

The skirt, part two:

1. Using your natural waist measurement (divided in half for front and back) as a guide, plot out and pin your pleats. I had enough fabric to create 1″ pleats every 2″ from the button placket. (You can kinda just wing this, as long as you end up with the correct measurement from side seam to side seam) 2. Plot and pin pleats in the back. Sew a basting stitch along the top of the whole skirt to stay the pleats 3. If your white fabric is at all sheer, add a simple skirt lining by gathering muslin (finishing all of the edges with a serger or simple hem) and pinning it to the waist of the pleated skirt, with the open end in front, at the buttons 4. Unbutton both the bodice and the skirt and match up the side seams, and both ends of the button placket with right sides together. Stitch together. (After trying this on the dress form, I went back and also added a small pleat at the base of the bodice in the center back to take out a bit of bagginess. You can do the same if you have a similar problem!)

 *Disclaimer: I have no idea how one is really supposed to use a French Curve…I just make it up as I go, and have seemed to do okay so far. So, here goes! Don’t make fun.

The sleeves:

1. Measure the rounded edge of the armhole with a French Curve (or you could lay some paper underneath, trace the hole, and use that as a pattern!) 2. Lay the curve onto the folded sleeve that you cut from the white shirt and trace the round curve 3. Add about a half inch to the bottom edge to help ease the sleeve seam, and cut the sleeves to the desired length 4. With right sides together, sew up the side seam of the sleeve, making a tube. Stitch with a basting stitch along the curve of the sleeve, and pull the bobbin thread to ease the sleeve, with right sides together, into the arm hole. Match up side seams and stitch into place.

Whew! We’re done! Let’s admire our handiwork, shall we?

Nicely tailored bodice, crisp, blue peter pan collar, cool short sleeves…

…fitted natural waist, fresh pleats, color blocked skirt…

…continuing buttons, and modest hemline. It turned out great, and is hopefully something Kate will enjoy!  I can’t wait to see it on her next week on Tuesday of the blog hop.


  1. Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Cute! Gotta love colorblock!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      and I really do… 😉

  2. Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    i sure hope this is the first of many more refashion swaps, i would just love to play along! all of your refashions are so darling, and i LOVE that you combined two shirts for yours. such a creative way to give a shirtdress a little more length. great job!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Michael Ann! I’ll keep you in mind for the next swap (whenever that might be!) Your refashions look great, too!

  3. Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Oh man this is super cute! I’m a huge fan of this shape of dress and colorblocked skirts!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jen, me too! I love a basic dress with a little kick in the pants.

  4. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Turned out fantastic! I love the nautical feel, clean lines and the color blocked bottom! Super fun.

    Can’t wait to see it on Kate!

  5. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I adore the color blocking and I’m a seriously huge fan of those pleats at the waistline! I can’t wait to see this on your refashion partner! Would be so cute paired with a little belt too!
    xoxo, Sunni

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Totally! I see this with a little belt, too!

  6. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, this is the best idea! How fun!!! I’m excited to see everything that was made. This dress is darling. I can totally see Kate wearing it 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Rachel! We’ll get you in on it next time! 🙂

  7. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Love it!!! Thanks Miranda!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I can’t wait to see how you wear it, cute girl!

  8. Posted May 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I Love it! Great creativity!!! You make it easy to follow with your pics. It turned out beautiful. It is a style many women can wear.

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Rose! I think you’re right that it’s pretty universal. Hope you try it!

  9. Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Ok, Miranda, this is just ridiculously cute. So awesome, and I love how the collar is blue too, it just ties it all together so nicely. So great, and good job with coordinating this whole deal and making it come together–it was super fun!

    • Posted May 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      ps, this is MIRIAM not Allan. HEh heh, can you imagine Allan saying “ridiculously cute”???!

      • Miranda
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        haha, I will always assume when I see Allan commenting, that it is, in fact Miriam:) And thank you thank you!

  10. Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    This is awesome!! I can never make dresses from one shirt because they’re too short! This is a kickass solution and your finishing work on it is insane!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Wanett! I feel the same way about shirt to dress refashions (and a lot of actual off the rack dresses, too!) I’m always trying to come up with a way to make them long enough. I’m so happy this one worked out. I see a dress like this appearing in my own closet in the near future…

  11. Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Miranda, I love everything about this dress!!! It’s amazing! I’ll have to make it after I no longer have a baby bump for myself. Great work!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      You’re so sweet! You are a whiz with refashions, so this will be right up your alley when baby boy comes along. It’s a great nursing option, too, with the buttons in the front! (I sort of need one right now) 🙂

  12. Roseann Stockon
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I have alot of shirts and my grandaughters are wanting a project this summer so this is fantastic.great idea. wonderful.

  13. Posted May 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful dress! It looks perfect on Kate!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 22, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Emily! She rocks it, right?!

  14. Posted June 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    This is absolutely adorable!!! I saw this on Pinterest and HAD to check it out. I will be making this for sure. Thanks for sharing (^_^)

    • Miranda
      Posted June 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Nikell! Good luck with it!

  15. Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar idea I haven’t tried yet, but I love this! So cute! Button-down shirt dresses are my favorite! 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted August 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much Joy! I love button-down shirt dresses, too! I’m working on another, similar one right now. Can’t wait to share:)

      Good luck!

  16. jp
    Posted March 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    hello, i know this is super late, but i stumbled upon this while looking for a tutorial on how to turn a shirt into a dress. I am in love with the way your dress turned out and would love to recreate your results. I was wondering if there is anything that can be done about making the neck smaller, it seems well fitted on yours, but the xl shirt i have is very loose in the neck on me. I am a sewing newbie, and would appreciate any help. I hope I’m not way too late. Thanks so much for the inspiration, I hope I’m not too late 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, great question! I think these must have had smaller necks, because that wasn’t an issue! The solution for that would be to fold the shirt in half with the wrong sides together and the fold at the center back, then sew a seam down the back fold to make the collar and neck as narrow as you need it. If you sew the seam with the wrong sides together and the collar flipped up, when you will cover the seam when you flip the collar back down! Let me know if that works, or you need more help!
      Good Luck!

  17. jp
    Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the advice and tutorial, that really helped make the collar smaller, and I now have a new dress 🙂

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