Upcycle Your Button Down Into a Tunic!

Upcycle Your Button Down into A Tunic!

I mentioned previously that I have been on a crusade to clean out my closet, get rid of anything that I don’t love, and make the most of what I already have. I’ve sent several loads to the Goodwill, however I still find myself with a couple of piles of clothes that I can’t seem to part with. So I have continued to challenge myself to repurpose and up-cycle some of these well worn pieces, which brings me to this button down turned popover tunic. I’ve been seeing this type of top line the racks this spring, from Tory Burch to J.Crew, but at a much higher price point. I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to change up button downs and the wheels have been turning!

Be on the look out for more fun ways to mix up your classic button down tops, but first let me show you this quick simple transformation that will keep you looking fresh and on trend this spring!

  • What You Need 1 of 10
    What You Need

    Button Down: I upcycled this one while cleaning out my closet. Pick one that has a little bit more of a roomier boyfriend fit.

    Decorative Trim Ribbon: Look for trim that is complimentary to the color of your shirt and is the same width of the button down hem area (about 1.5 in. wide). You will need just under a yard.

    Seam Ripper: This will help you remove the buttons.

    Adhesive tape: Optional, to iron and hold the trim into place before sewing.

    Scissors: To cut off the collar of your button down.

    Additional Tools: Sewing Machine, Pins

    Scissors: To cut off the collar

  • Step 1: Remove the buttons 2 of 10
    Step 1

    Using a seam ripper, remove ALL of the buttons on your shirt. 

  • Step 2: Cut off the collar 3 of 10
    Step 2

    Carefully cut off the collar, just above where the seam is sewn to the shirt. Keep the edge as straight and clean as possible, you will not be sewing this part. 

  • Step 3: Pin the opening of shirt together 4 of 10
    Step 3

    Line up the opening edges of the shirt, as if you were going to button it, pin it together in place, prepping to sew.

  • Step 4: Sew the the openings together 5 of 10
    Step 4

    Once you have overlapped and pinned the opening of the shirt, sew them together. Be careful not to sew the front to the back of the shirt.


    Important note: Start sewing from the bottom hem of the shirt and work your way up, then stop sewing and leave 5-6 inches open at the top of your shirt/neckline! This is what will give you the tunic look and allow you space to pull it over your head! 

  • Step 5: Measure, cut, and pin decorative trim to your shirt 6 of 10
    Step 5

    Next, pin your trim along the opening hem. This is where the transformation really starts to take place! You will want your fabric to over lap from the bottom of the top, covering and lining up with the width of the opening hem that you sewed partially closed. This first piece will just cover the top part as seen above. You can use adhesive tape to iron and stick it into place before sewing. Or you could simply line it up and pin it on. When you get to the top neck piece, line it up and cut it nice and clean at the seam so that it stops just before the neck.


    Note: Make sure not to pin the opening together, make sure to leave it open! 

  • Step 6: Sew the decorative trim 7 of 10
    Step 6

    Starting from the bottom hem, wrap the trim just over the bottom hem of the shirt and then sew it up. You will sew on both edges of the ribbon trim to make it secure and clean.


    Note: Sorry to be redundant, but remember to be careful to not sew the opening at the neckline shut! Take your time!

  • Step 7: Add trim underneath at neck opening 8 of 10
    Step 7

    This is probably the trickiest step, but not to worry. Be patient and just pay attention to the details to make sure it all lines up and looks right. So now you will add a piece of trim to the part of your shirt that's underneath the hem of the open neck line. You will want to tuck it down behind the front piece, then continue to line it up with the hem. Pin it into place, then cut the piece just beneath your neck trim as you did with the front piece. 

  • Step 8: Sew trim into place underneath the neckline hem 9 of 10
    Step 8

    Last step and you are done! Now that you have that trim cut, lined up, and pinned into place, slowly and carefully sew it starting from the bottom and working towards the neck. Again, sew seams on both edges of the ribbon.

  • Tunic Time! 10 of 10
    Tunic Time!

    Now throw it over your head, add a hat, roll up your sleeves and it's tunic time!

Photos by Priscilla Chang

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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