Life is Trying Things to See if They Work: Shirt Redesign Tutorial

OK, now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

polkadot shirt redesign tutorial

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

-Ray Bradbury

This shirt and post are the perfect examples of Ray Bradbury’s quote. When I started out redesigning this shirt,

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it. I knew it needed to be smaller. But other than that, it was just trying things to see if they worked.

I love how the sleeves turned out, but that only happened after several different attempts at sleeve treatments.

Not to mention, I tried an animated GIF to see if it would work.

It did.



If you’re interested in learning how to make an animated GIF, go to My funny blogging friend Rarasaur turned me on to it. It’s SUPER fun and easy to do.

Now on to redesigning this polka dot shirt.

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

 polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

Right sides together, pin and sew the sleeves back into the armhole.

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

polka dot shirt redesign tutorial

Now, excuse me while I go find that ruggedly handsome contractor husband of mine. He needs to take me out to dinner in my new shirt.

polka dot shirt redesign tutorialΒ polkadot shirt redesign tutorial

You might also enjoy:

Refashion Tutorials

And just in case you haven’t heard my exciting news….. πŸ™‚

book announcement

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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98 Responses to Life is Trying Things to See if They Work: Shirt Redesign Tutorial

  1. ana says:

    i recently joined your blog, you remind me a lot to my grandmother. Not cuz you look like her but cuz she used to be a lot like you, always creating and making new stuff. You know, tape measure around her neck, pair of scissors in hand and a pair of pins on her shirt. She could make a pretty dress literally from anything.

    she taught me the basics of sewing back then but she passed away 7 years ago. The thing is i want to retake what she taught me, so i rolled up my sleeves and try to make her old sewing machine work, after several tries from my side, then my dadΒ΄s and finally a technician. i got a brand new machine, which i dont remmeber how to use lol so i will need a lot of your help, if you could… what would you suggest me to start with? i really wish i was as talented as you and im thinking about copy cat some of your creations but i think i should start with something easy..

    what would you suggest?


  2. Janet says:

    I am such and ‘inside the box’ sewist and really want to venture out of the box. Your ideas have inspired me! I can’t wait to visit the thrift stores and give redesigning a try.

  3. Hey… Wonderful News about your book!! I’m excited for your new venture! Sending happy energy your way! πŸ™‚

  4. Julie Blake says:

    Congratulations on your book deal!
    I think this shirt has to be one of my favorites of your alterations. I love the result, and boy, do you look great in it! You always make the alterations seem very easy – I will have to try sometime soon. Thank you – Julie

    • Thank you, Julie! I really don’t think you can go wrong with navy and white polka dots!! In my opinion, they look great on anything! I hope you do try to alter something soon. Just a word of warning though, once you start, you might not be able to stop. It’s quite addicting. πŸ™‚

  5. kittehluvs says:

    I love this shirt! You are amazing! the polka dots + white pants are so cute.

  6. Gene Echo says:

    I love all your creations but am so afraid to cut into anything. I’ve always been very good at following patterns, reading music but not veering off of what someone else has done. It seems like I can’t figure out how you know how much to cut off the sleeve openings so they will reattach properly. Thanks for inspiring so many people.

  7. Trudy Callan says:

    This is an amazing refashion, super stylish and feminine. I am so excited about your book. Can’t wait to buy it. Congrats.

  8. Debra says:

    Sweet refashion – I love your site. Question: Do you just CUT the seams or do you use a seam ripper? I have a hard time just cutting into something… There are so many items at the resale shop that are just a tad too big – this is perfect!!!! You ROCK!

    • Thank you, Debra! Most of the time, I just cut the seams, especially if it’s too big because you’re going to have to get rid of some fabric anyway. That being said, there are some times when I pick the seams with a seam ripper. Usually so I can keep a nice edge finish or if I want to save the seaming. Have fun with this, once you start, the possibilities are endless!

  9. zibergirl says:

    Awesome refashion! CONGRATULATIONS! on your book. I hope it’s sewing related πŸ˜‰

  10. Ann says:

    I love all your refashions. You are amazingly talented and inspire me to try something new.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations! I love your redesigns! Since i work at a library I’ll make sure we get a copy of it!

  12. joni says:

    This is really lovely, and most inspiring.

  13. Pingback: Tutorial: Open top sleeve blouse refashion · Sewing |

  14. Wow! You really transformed that blouse!! I’m loving the open sleeves and V neck!! I’ve posted on Craft Gossip with a link to your tutorial:

  15. Anonymous says:

    You are fabulous! Love the whole outfit, you look so stylish and fun! Congratulations on your book, I look forward to making sure my library orders a copy.

  16. Judy says:

    I love the finished look! Just to clarify, the darts are in the front and back bodice, but not in the lower edge? And the gathering was done to the lower edge only, to fit the bodice?

  17. rarasaur says:

    The shirt looks amazing, especially the sleeves! I loved the gif, too… it really showed off the views effectively. πŸ˜€

    And, if I didn’t already say it— CONGRATULATIONS!!! πŸ˜€

  18. Pingback: Tutorial: Open top sleeve blouse refashion | Sewing Patterns

  19. Gjeometry says:

    Woah!!! The before is so terrifying and after….beautiful! Such a lovely elegant top, looks great on you. And, I am so all over that animated gif lesson. Going there now. I’ve just been introduced to photo collaging and am now obsessed. My latest blogpost (here: ) allows you to do all kinds of collages and photo finishes all for free. But, I’ve not tried the animated one yet. Thanks for the link!

  20. vjstracener says:

    That shirt looks amazing and the sleeves are inspiring.

  21. BeingZhenya says:

    Cute! Not something I would wear, but good! And congrats on your book deal πŸ™‚ is it going to be in stores and all?

  22. photosarah says:

    I’ve seen a lot of shirt redesigns, but I really like this one. I think I might adjust to sleeves to be more office-friendly but I definitely want to give it a try. I have several large men’s button downs that I need to do something with!

  23. Joen says:

    The shirt is great! love the sleeve styling too!

  24. Jo H. says:

    This looks so nice on you, especially with the white shorts. I’m so glad to hear you say that you had to try more than one thing before you found what you wanted to do and how to do it. That’s encouraging to me because I have run into several problems with my first big refashion. I must pull it out of the closet and try to keep going on it πŸ™‚ It’s also helpful to see the garment laid out when you’re working on it, instead of on a dress form, for those of us who don’t have one.

    • Thanks, Jo. Yes, there are so many things that take more than one try. Sometimes, I have to put it away for awhile and work on something else until inspiration hits me on how to solve the problem. So, yes, by all means, keep trying, you’ll usually come up with something even better than you imagined at first. Let me know when you finish, I’d love to see it!

  25. sewdooley says:

    Love the polka dots, that shirt wanted a second life as a girly shirt.

  26. This is adorable, Beth, and it looks great on you. Love the shoes, too. And the animated gif really shows your fun personality.

  27. I want some polka dots tooooooo! Love it!

  28. I am so happy for you! CONGRATULATIONS on the book!!!! I can’t wait to get a copy of my own! How exciting! Are you willing to let us know the title? πŸ˜‰ Heehee! How long will I have to wait to get my hands on it? πŸ™‚

    Also LOVE this shirt refashion. It’s so unique!

    And I appreciate you sharing the links for learning GIF’s. My techie 14 y.o. showed me how to do that a couple of times, but I keep forgetting! I’ll have to pin that link on Pinterest for when he’s not around to help me! πŸ˜‰

    Have a great week!

  29. Anonymous says:

    congrats, so very happy for you

  30. Della says:

    oh ! WOW, truly a big deal
    congrats, you deserve it

  31. ooobop! says:

    This blouse transformation is so beautiful, Beth. You are incredible the way you can employ so many techniques to get such gorgeous results. I love the sleeves and the change in the neckline makes it so elegant. And of course the polka dots are the icing on the cake! x

  32. Gladys says:

    I love the new blouse! Great idea and thank you for sharing with us! Have a nice day!

  33. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for your easy to follow tutorial!! I can’t wait to get to the thrift store to get my sewing on!! You look amazing in the shirt!

  34. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful! !!

  35. Rose says:

    Love your blog. I have been trying to re-fashion a man’s shirt to no avail. Thanks for the great tips.

  36. Marcy says:

    I love your creativity! You are very talented but more importantly, you “sound” like a sweetheart from the few comments of yours that I read! Thank you for sharing this!

    I have been wanting to be able to just alter a lot of my clothes that I like the material, color and/or pattern but have no shape or are out of style. I cannot wear anything like this but love it and wish I could. I am just starting out learning how to use a sewing machine but am hoping to be able to do things like this one day!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Marcy! I was right where you are when I started out. All I knew was I wanted to be able to redesign my clothes into something I would love to wear. I had to have the “just jump in feet first and give it a try” mindset. Sure there were many things that didn’t work, but I learned something important from each of those mistakes. Good luck in your sewing adventures and know that I’m rooting for you!!

  37. Maxine says:

    Great job, ive made blouses larger by shortening long sleves for the extra fabric needed to add width. Turned out really good.

  38. Mary says:

    Sweet dotted blouse!

  39. I love this! You are SO successfully creative. My My DIY upcycles- tend to look like DIY upcyclesπŸ™„. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  40. Patty Laracy says:

    Your blouse turned out very pretty, but, I’m assuming that you bought it at a thrift store. What about those of us who are heavier and could wear that blouse? Do you know how hard it is to find clothes that fit us that we can afford? Especially being on a low fixed income? I sew a lot and fabric is not that expensive that you couldn’t have made that blouse from scratch and saved that one for someone who can’t sew.

  41. Sue says:

    That is a beautiful make over I love it

  42. Karen says:


  43. Karen says:


  44. Margarita Popejoy says:

    Awesome tutorial!!! Can’t wait to transform one of my husband’s old shirt!

  45. Sendal says:

    Your skill is evident and the ideas were wonderful. I do have to say I was left with a bad taste in mouth regarding your choice of wording regarding the size of the shirt. The shirt was the correct size for you. The shirt was large for you. The shirt would have been the correct size for many women. Your choice to repeatedly refer to the shirt simply as “huge” was pretty insensitive. I get that you were thinking in terms of comparison to your own body size. Perhaps in order to gain some perspective you could post a picture of yourself in a shirt which is as proportionately small for you as this one was large. Then you could demonstrate your expertise at adjusting a garment which is too small, and could gain a little perspective from people characterizing you as “huge” in comparison to the garment or simply expressing how grossly small the item was on you. A 15 year old girl whom I’m teaching to sew clicked on your page to see the reconstruction process and… she was feeling pretty good about herself until she saw huge… huggggge… HUGE. Please rethink your wording.

  46. Sendal says:

    Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful response to the input. I cannot wait to share this with my student next Tuesday!

  47. Lm says:

    I absolutely love your shirt remake.

  48. Terry says:

    Fabulous look

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