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How to upcycle adult shirts into kid shirts

I love upcycling adult shirts into kid shirts! The best part is that you can reuse the hems, making sewing up the shirt super fast. I’ve explained this to a few friends who are starting out sewing upcycle shirts and thought I’d take a few pictures to help show how to save yourself some time, and now I’m sharing it with you too. I have sewn countless upcycled raglans this way, it’s a great way to get unique prints and colors for dirt cheap! See the most recent set of upcycled kids shirts I sewed, here.

You can find my full list of tips for sewing refashions here!

I used a free kid’s raglan shirt pattern from Bella Sunshine Designs, you can download yours here. I have a whole list of patterns that are designed for upcycling or using up scraps here, for more pattern ideas, but I typically just use standard patterns and treat the upcycle shirts like regular fabric.

How to upcycle an adult shirt into a kid shirt


I love my Olfa rotary cutter and use pattern weights! Use sharp fabric scissors for cutting the tshirts apart.


Step 1-  To cut the sleeves out, smooth out a tshirt and make sure the hems are lined up. You will want to fold up the bottom of the pattern to account for the seam allowance – normally sewn, you would be sewing this up as a hem. Since you’re reusing a hem, you need to subtract that off otherwise the sleeves will be longer than intended. Use a rotary cutter to trim out the pattern, which will leave you with mirrored sleeves.

Step 2- For the body, you’ll want to cut up the tshirt along the side seams, and cut out the sleeves, with scissors.

Step 3 – You’ll fold one body piece of the tshirt in half, so you can cut the pattern on the fold. You’ll fold up the hem again, for the same reason as on the arms. Cut around the pattern with your rotary cutter.

Step 4- Last but not least, you’ll need to cut the neckband. Keep in mind that this needs to be a stretchier fabric with “recovery” (it stretches and then goes back the way it was), not 100% cotton knit. You may need to use a third tshirt or some ribbed knit fabric.

Step 5- Sew up the shirt just as the pattern instructions dictate! You can skip the hemming steps and have your shirt done that much faster.

Pin this tip for later, here:

The best upcycle sewing tip, you can reuse the original hems when upcycling an adult shirt into a kid's shirt! See this picture tutorial for how and sew up super fast raglan shirts. #refashion #upcycle #sewing

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