I love dresses, but let’s be honest, they don’t get much use. There’s only one way to wear them–thus one and done (usually). But don’t ditch your fall dresses…turn them into something new and exciting. Follow this Spring Top DIY to turn last season’s off-the-shoulder dress into something AMAZING.

I found this off the shoulder gingham dress on clearance at H&M. At first glance it doesn’t make an impact…so I passed on it. BUT gingham is HUGE this spring, and I’ve been wanting another top so upon further inspection I realized I could turn it into something AWESOME.

Why go through the trouble, you ask, when I could just buy a new top. The answer is simple–discount! This dress was on clearance for $10!!! That’s way less than any gingham top I’ve coveted. You can easily create a fun spring top with out of season dresses for at least half the cost.

Step 1 – Cutting the Dress

DIY Gingham Shirt Step 1

Figure out how long you want your top to be and start cutting! Be sure your fabric is lined up on both sides and be as precise as possible. You don’t want a crooked uneven hem.

I left the fabric undone to create some fraying…but you can hem the edge to prevent this…up to you.

Step 2 – Changing the Sleeves

I HATE elastic sleeves! They feel so restricting; so I decided to take out that elastic. If you have this issue too use a seam ripper to remove all the stitching attaching the elastic. Completely dissect the sleeve.

You should end up with something like this…
DIY Gingham Shirt Open Sleeve

 It’s messy, but no worries; it will be fixed!

What to do now…statement sleeves are HUGE this spring; so lets turn them into that! We’re going to add fabric to the ends to create a bell sleeve.

– Cutting the Fabric – 

From the skirt fabric you just removed, cut two identical pieces of fabric that will become your bell sleeve attachments. Make sure the length of the fabric is at least twice the length of the sleeve (laying flat). The width of the fabric will be determined by you, that is, how large of a flare sleeve you would like. For me, the wider the better!

DIY Gingham Shirt Flare Sleeve

– Attaching the Fabric – 

Turn the fabric so you’re seeing the inside face-up (i.e. seams up). Now line that piece up with the end of the sleeve – making sure the edges meet. Pin the fabric into place. Be sure to line up the fabric piece’s seam with the seam of the shirt sleeve (so it’ll be hidden under your arm).

You can also stitch the ends of the fabric piece together into a circle and then attach, but I left it open. The open ends make it more movable.

This may look wrong, like we’re attaching the fabric up onto the sleeve instead of hanging down from it. BUT do it this way – you can sew the fabric together then flip it down to create a bell shape at the end of the sleeve!

DIY Gingham Shirt Pin Fabric

Now that everything is pinned stitch the fabric together (however you know how). Because the seam is invisible I sewed the pieces by hand. When you’re done flip the fabric down and…

DIY Gingham Shirt Flared Sleeve


Now repeat everything for the other sleeve!

Step 3 – Making it POP

Now that you’ve done all that, you should end up with something like this…

New DIY Gingham Shirt

Still pretty boring, right? Ok so what can we do? I decided to create a tie-sleeve. Not only will it accentuate the bell detail, but it will add a little something extra to this shirt to make it pop.

– Cutting the Fabric – 

Cut two identical strips of fabric from whatever dress material you have leftover. Make them as long as you would like – just be sure you cut enough to tie around each sleeve.Gingham Fabric Strips

For this you don’t have to use the same fabric. You can create tie-sleeves with anything you want (other fabric, ribbon, rope etc). You don’t even have to add anything at all! I tried red ribbon first, but it ended up looking a little too Dorothy from Wizard of OZ.

– Attach the Fabric – 

You want to attach the ties in one point under the sleeve. DON’T attach them all the way around. Doing this will either make the sleeve too tight to fit your hand through or the tie too loose that it won’t look correct.

Again, line up the seam from the strip of fabric to the seam of the sleeve. Pin the strip into place and stitch it onto the sleeve through the seam. Stitching through the existing seam will hide any attachment evidence!

Now repeat for the other sleeve and…


DIY Gingham Top

Now in these simple steps you’ve created an exciting spring top from that boring old dress!

While I would love for you to completely recreate this project, I know it would be difficult to find the same dress (I can’t find it online). BUT this tutorial could help open your eyes to the possibilities. Maybe you have an old dress you don’t wear anymore, or you shop clearance but no spring tops are available yet. Now you have an idea of what can be done to an old outdated item!

Shop Gingham Tops

| Tie Waist Top | Baby Doll Top | Ruffle T-ShirtSmocked Top | Embroidered Top | Button Up |

Here are some other great Spring DIY projects: Lace-Up Shoe | Temporary Patches | Lace-Up Flats |


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