Turning a women’s button-up shirt into a child’s shirt


The last time I went through my closet, I found that there were quite a few garments that didn’t fit me anymore that I wasn’t quite ready to part with. I put them in a box and labelled it ‘refashion’ not knowing when (or if) I would revisit them.

When my son had a checkered shirt day at his daycare, I realized it would be the perfect opportunity to pull out this buffalo check shirt and make him something out of it. To turn my RTW shirt into a mini-version for him, I used one of my go-to patterns (Classic Oxford Button-up from Peek-a-Boo Patterns)

The other times I’ve made this pattern, I’ve made it from scratch. But the pattern also includes instructions for making it from an existing men’s shirt. In this case, you can use the existing button placket. Because I was making this shirt from a women’s button-up shirt, I actually turned the shirt upside-down before cutting the front pieces out so that the buttons and button holes would be on the correct side.

When using the existing button placket you have to place your pattern piece so that the top button is approximately 2″ below the top of the piece. You also need to remember to place the centre front of the piece (and not the edge of the piece) along the mid-point of the placket.

I was also able to use the existing yoke and pleat from the back of my shirt. To do this, I taped the yoke and back pattern pieces together making sure that I eliminated the seam allowances. Then I lined up my pattern piece so that the bottom of the shirt yoke was even with where the yoke pattern piece met the back pattern piece. I cut it all together and was able to save myself quite a few steps. 

I was able to cut the sleeves while still keeping the existing placket and cuff from my original shirt. To cut out the piece, I did have to unpick the sleeve and remove the cuff to have the pattern piece fit nicely. Then I was able to cut my sleeve, and add a button tab on the inside of the sleeve so that it could be rolled up and buttoned in place.

Once my sleeve was attached to the shirt, I was able to sew the cuff back on the bottom of the sleeve. 

Final Thoughts

The actual sewing of the shirt was really quick as most of the more complicated parts were skipped though using elements of my existing shirt (button placket, yoke, cuffs). I was able to complete the sewing in about 2 hours. The collar pieces were the only pieces that I needed to cut “from scratch”. 

I’m so glad I was able to give this shirt new life. I’m also really happy that I now know that I can fairly easily convert one of my old shirts into a child’s shirt. 



Unfortunately, if I do decide to refashion one of my husband’s shirts in the future, I likely wont be able to use the existing sleeve placket or cuff as they will be too big for the toddler-sized shirt (the woman’s small shirt cuffs were very similar in size to the pattern pieces). However, I should still have enough fabric leftover to cut new ones. 

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