DIY: Art Nouveau Inspired T Shirt Refashion Tutorial

Ahhhhh, the designs of the Art Nouveau period.


Needless to say, as soon as I saw this Art Nouveau-ish thrift store fabric, I threw it into my basket and it inspired one of my favorite t-shirt refashions ever.

This thrift store shirt has been in my stash for months and it was perfect for what I had in mind.

Start by cutting off the collar.

Then cut your desired sleeve.

Take in the sides if needed.

Start your pleating.

This part is the most fun and allows for your own creativity. You can pleat in any direction you’d like by folding the fabric with wrong sides together and sewing across the fabric. You can choose the distance between pleats and the angle of each pleat.

I started on each shoulder and pleated toward the front and the back until I liked the end result.

Keep pleating until you end up with something like this:

If you try this, I’d love to see pictures of how your shirt turns out. And if you send me pictures, I’d be happy to ย post them on”Your Projects”.

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About The Renegade Seamstress

I'm a busy wife, mom, grandma, and teacher who loves to create. I've joined the refashion scene and I 'd like to share and connect with all those talented and creative people out there doing similar things.
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99 Responses to DIY: Art Nouveau Inspired T Shirt Refashion Tutorial

  1. Kerri says:

    The pleating is very interesting. How did you stabilize it to keep it from stretching out around the neckline?

  2. Mother Deer says:

    This is truly your most fabulous design! I have a very similar shirt to alter in my closet…same color, same oversized fit. I can’t tell from your instructions whether or not your finished off the neckline edge, and if so, how did you do it? I also wonder what model/brand of dressform that you are using and if you like it or not. I’m in the market for one, and am unsure as to which model to choose. Thanks for your continuing inspiration!

    • Good Morning, Mother Deer! Thank you, once again for your nice comments! As far as finishing off the neckline, I didn’t do anything to it. I liked the raw edge look of it. I even washed and dried it to see if it would stretch out and it didn’t. I might try sewing a bias trim around it, but for now, I’m leaving it raw. It won’t fray since it’s a knit.
      I bought my dress form from Joann Fabrics. It was my birthday present to myself last year. Once in a great while they come on sale. I waited and waited and pounced as soon as I saw that discount sign. I use it ALL THE TIME! I love it and I don’t know how I survived without it.
      Enjoy your day!

      • Mother Deer says:

        Thanks for the details about the neckline. My blouse to be remodeled isn’t a knit, so I might have to take a different approach.

        Are there any features on your dress form that you don’t care for, or features that you wish that you had upgraded to?

        • I do wish the dress form was shaped a little more like me. I’m pretty curvy in the back and the form is fairly flat. (Same measurements just different shape) I know there are some forms out there that can be made specifically for your own body, but that’s not an option for me at this point.

          • Crystal says:

            I saw a dress form tutorial once where you wrap your body in saran wrap then cover it with duct tape. Next cut it off, tape the form back together and stuff it. Haven’t tried it, but I’m thinking about it. You would need someone to help with this I’m thinking.

            • BeenBlueTooLong says:

              I’ve seen similar tutorials, taping over top of a t-shirt, instead of saran wrap. I’ve been considering doing that, and adding it to my non-adjustable dress form.

              • Debbie W. says:

                My daughter made one of these for herself and is very happy with it. She stuffed it with an old very worn out comforter.

              • Sabrina says:

                Several years ago, a very patient friend helped me make a paper tape dressform of myself using some tutorials I’d found online… mostly, this one: (which includes links to various others). The advantage of using the gummed Kraft paper tape is that it’s very easy to work with, and you can stick pins right into it later, without any worry that they’ll come out gummed up. Also, I hear that duct tape starts to peel away from dressforms in later years, and then sticks to garments one is trying to make, etc.

                I made a stand out of PVC pipes to support the dressform, as shown in another tutorial. I can’t find the website now, I’m afraid, but here’s the general gist: there are two 5.5″ length of pipe attached as the short ends of a “T” with a T connector. These will be pushed up into the shoulders of the dressform, once a long stem (trimmed to be the appropriate end height for oneself) is connected to it. The bottom end of that center pole inserts into a T connector in the middle of an “H” on the floor. The “H” consists of two 6.5″ sections for the middle bar, and four 8.5″ sections forming the two bars along the sides (so there are two more T connectors attaching the 8.5″ sections to the center bar of the “H” – one for each side). I used an epoxy specifically made for PVC, to secure the pipes and prevent them from rotating in their sockets. After stuffing the top end of the PVC pipe stand into the shoulders, I filled the form with newspaper. A cardboard “diaphragm” trimmed to fit into the bottom of the dressform (I used a long t-shirt, so this is at upper thigh level) with a hole cut for the longest PVC pole to pass through it, keeps the dressform from wobbling on its stem. It worked very well, indeed!

  3. Lili & Mum's says:

    Gorgeous! I think this is my favorite!

  4. grammysgrace says:

    Wow so glad I found you. Love the shirt. I only sew straight seams but I might be able to do this. Thanks so much.

  5. your most beautiful creation yet! At least it’s my favorite!

  6. Barb says:

    Love the finished product. It sure is cute.

  7. This is BEAUTIFUL! Love it!

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

  8. That is so fantastic!
    Love how the t-shirt turned out and now I want one too!
    The colours of the printed fabric make me think of a Tiffany Lamp.
    Very nice.
    *note to self* – I must learn how to sew!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Clever & classy. You really out did yourself on this one! Looks expensive.
    One question..How much do you cut away for a cap sleeve? Did you model it after one you have?
    Great Job!
    L/S. FL

    • Thanks so much! As far as the cap sleeve goes, I just cut without a pattern (I’m weird that way, I don’t like to use patterns). The nice thing though is that once you’ve done all the pleating, if you don’t like the shape of the sleeve or the neckline, you can still cut it to any shape you like.
      Thanks again for your nice comments!

  10. Steph A says:

    OMG!! I LOVE IT!!!! Yes, this is my absolute favourite to date. I love the colours, and the patterned t-shirt looks fantastic with the solid. The pleats are genius! I’ve never seen anything like it. I love how theyswing around the neckline. Totally FAB!!! Thanks for showing us. I’ve got this bookmarked, and have all winter to find the right tops to work with!

  11. stitchknit says:

    Love your re-do on the T shirt. Creative to say the least!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Come back to visit anytime

  12. Love the wild, colorful fabric. Let’s see a photo of you wearing the dress!

  13. cucicucicoo says:

    i *love* the top! great work! ๐Ÿ™‚ lisa

  14. immerBeginner says:

    AWESOME! Saw this on Refashion Co-Op and had to click to see the whole thing. Loved the font too!

    • Thanks for noticing the font. Sometimes I think I spend way too much time on details like that, but it makes it worthwhile when someone notices. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Have a great day and thanks for the visit! I hope you’ll come back again soon!

  15. OMG!!!! This, I believe is the best refashion of all on your site. It does help that the top is my favorite color and the skirt is my favorite combo of colors. Thanks for the tute…have to try it now or as soon as I find a spare hour!!!!! LOL!!!! It is absolutely gorgeous and, yes, I would leave the raw edge as well and if it grows, I love the idea of a rayon tape…:)
    Thank you.

    • Thanks as always, Louise! It was a fun project for me. One of those that evolve as you go along. The possibilities are endless. Now I need to make that fabric into a pencil skirt and I’ll be set to wear this outfit. I’ve never used rayon tape before. How does that work?

  16. joen says:

    Really Pretty! love the pleat detail!

  17. Joelle Foong says:

    It’s pretty! This my favourite so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Beautiful! I love the pleating and I love the art nouveau font ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Cul de Sac says:

    Wow! This is my favorite refashion so far! Love your print fabric and will certainly keep in mind the pleating idea ๐Ÿ™‚ could be good even for a hand bag!! Keep on the good work! :)))

  20. ReStitch Me says:

    Hi Beth! I’ve been lurking a lot, but not commenting. (Don’t ya hate that as a blogger? lol) The neckline of your t-shirt is beautiful and interesting! I do wish we lived closer as I struggle with ‘seeing’ potential at a resale shop. It would be fun to take lessons! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Jakki says:

    Beth – so cute! How do you find the time, as I know your K job keeps you hopping!

  22. Amy Jo says:

    wow… such a cool idea! I’ll have to play around with random pleating one of these days. As always, I really great refashion and inspiration!

  23. Jo H. says:

    You know, I thought from the pictures that you had already used the print with the t-shirt to make a dress, and was thinking what a beauty it was! This is a very neat technique. You have a real gift to be able to see the potential of your “before” garments. Thanks for sharing with us.

  24. Angelia Franklin says:

    This turned out gorgeous! I love the pleating and it looks very expensive. Very nice indeed!

  25. Catherine says:

    I love the detail of the pleating, especially the way you made it fan out on part of it. Well done!

  26. Thank you Catherine! This was a super fun project for me. The original t shirt was perfect for this type of technique.

  27. Very creative! Love the mix of print and solid. Nice work girl!!!

  28. Pingback: Trash to Treasure – an inspiration – DIY T Shirt Refashion « Love <3 Notes

  29. I'm A Refashionista! says:

    I love love love it!! Awesome so trying this!

  30. Anon says:

    WOW! This is gorgeous! An inspiration. I’m a long-time sewer/refashioner and I never would have thought of that and don’t know if I could pull it off. Impressive!!!

  31. corneliawinn says:

    This is amazing! Bravo!

  32. cat says:

    I have that fabric!!

  33. Donna says:

    I love this, also. I assume with all of the pleating in the tshirt, that it would “shrink” the size up considerably. How do you know how big of a shirt to start with, or what size you will end up with?Do you think this would work on a plain, tshirt if I cut the neckline some?
    I want to try this, just wasn’t sure how to judge. And I sure don’t want to end up with a shirt that is too small that has to go back into the stash!

    • This idea seemed to work well since this shirt had so much room in the front after I cut off the neckline. I guess, the larger the shirt is, the more pleating detail you can put in. I didn’t have an exact plan before I started this shirt, I just kept pleating until it looked right to me. Each shirt will be different.
      Good luck!

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  35. Linda Polman says:

    This dress is absolutely amazing! ๐Ÿ˜€

  36. Pingback: Pleated Top | Do It And How

  37. mathilde915 says:

    so cute! I’m going to give this a try

  38. I love what you have done with the shirt and all your others creations!! I’ve spoken about you in my blog:

    Thanks for sharing your work with us!

  39. That’s pretty, is the bottom stretchy fabric?

  40. Sabrina says:

    This is top is sooo lovely! Thanks for sharing your projects and for the tutorials you provide. I just followed a link to your site today, and I’m so inspired! I’m not much of a seamstress yet, but I hope to start with some of your simpler sweater refashioning, and work my way up from there.

  41. Sox says:

    That is great. Thank you for the tutorial!

  42. Pingback: 6 Amazing Thrift Shop Clothing Revamps! | Daily Holiday Blog

  43. Lisa says:

    I just found your site from the refashion challenge. LOVE IT!!

  44. Elena D. says:

    Your ideas are very creative and i fond them inspired. Now i know what to do with some clothes I canโ€™t part with.

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