Second Life Button Up

I’ve owned very few button up shirts that fit correctly, and they seem pretty elusive to shop for.  But even the few ill-fitting RTW button up shirts I’ve owned over the years have had a hold on me.  There’s something about the collar and buttons that I love.  Comfortable, yet a little more professional looking than a t-shirt.

I’ve wanted to make my own for some time now, but my journey didn’t start with much success.  I tried the Violet shirt pattern last October, but it was too boxy, and despite all the extra room, I still couldn’t move my arms comfortably.  So I tried it again last week, going down one size and doing a full bust adjustment.  From the bust down I had plenty of room, but the shoulders and arms were much too tight, and I didn’t quite know what to do next…  A bigger size wasn’t gonna solve any problems.

I finally decided to shelve the Violet pattern and go with a TNT pattern that was already a comfortable fit.  Why go through multiple muslins and frustrations?  So, my TNT pattern is my Sew for Victory dress pattern: Du Barry 5947.  I got rid of the vestee and just lengthened the bodice pattern.  Adapting this pattern to a shirt pattern was a cinch!

I made up a muslin and used a sleeve placket pattern piece to make a wider and longer pattern for a shirt front button placket.  It worked!


The button placket is hard to see with this floral print, but it’s there, minus any buttons.

It provides enough of an opening to easily get the shirt on and off, and with one button, it would be held closed, without any gaping or pulling.


I did pinch out a little bit of fabric at the neckline so that the collar would lay flatter, and I added a little more length to the bottom, but otherwise this pattern was ready to roll.

I had a worn out shirt of my husbands that I wanted to refashion into a shirt for me; the sleeves were a wreck, but the rest of the shirt seemed fine.


I traced the shirt pattern onto my hubby’s shirt, using the buttons as my center front.  I cut new sleeves from the old sleeves (I had lots of fabric to work with–my hubby is the big and tall type), and I cut the collar pieces out of the back yoke.


It was pretty smooth sailing from here, and I’m thrilled with the results!  It doesn’t hurt to have the button holes and buttons already finished.


Jay and Lucy love to hang out on the balcony, so they were all up in my business while I was taking photos.

I did not adjust the pocket placement at all, so the outer corner is practically in my armpit, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t find chest pockets to be all that practical for ladies, but I don’t mind a decorative pocket.

Although the fit is loose, I don’t feel lost in this shirt.  I love the gathered shoulder details, and it is comfortable to move my arms in–win!!


I can’t wait to make more shirts with this pattern.

Do you like button ups?  Have you found the perfect shirt pattern?


  1. My experience with RTW button-ups is pretty much like yours–they almost never seem to fit correctly! I’m eager to try the Archer from Grainline studios in the future, though. Your refashioned shirt looks wonderful and comfy, and I love the idea of using a dress bodice pattern to fashion a shirt!

    1. I’ve read good things about the Archer pattern!! I’m trying not to buy any new patterns right now since I’m unemployed at the moment, so I’m glad the dress pattern worked out. Hope to see your Archer on the web :)

  2. This is so cute! I love it! It’s awesome that you could refashion a men’s shirt, too– what a great way to get some more use out of it! I FINALLY finished my Grainline Archer shirt the other day (after about three months of it lying around missing half of the pearl snaps…) and I really, really like it. It’s slouchy and casual, which is perfect for me.

      1. They were a huge pain in the butt! I bought the special Dritz pearl snap pliers, but they didn’t align the tops and bottoms so they kept going in crooked. Then, when you just use a hammer to set them, it’s really tough to tap hard enough to get them on securely without cracking the pearl part. I know some people use them without a problem, but I hated them!

  3. Your shirt looks great! I too love button-down shirts but have a hard time finding RTW shirts that fit. I’m on my way to mastering the Archer, and am really looking forward to being able to make button-down shirts to my heart’s content!

  4. Qui, I am totally amazed and impressed by your remake of Chris’ shirt! It looks darling and comfy. What a great re-use! The other shirt is cute too. Need a picture of you wearing it! (Include Lu and Jay also!) love ya!

  5. Hi…great sewing by the way! I’m intrigued by your shirt makeovers; I’m tall [5′ 8″], thin [125], and have long monkey arms, so it’s reeeeeeally hard to find shirts that fit. I’m constantly taking in the sides and sleeves, thus I can NOT live without my sewing machine, it has a permanent spot on my bedroom floor [my husband wanted to use it to fix a zipper on his tent, and I told him he’d have to pry it from my cold dead hands].

    Anyways, in this post and a few others I noticed, you mentioned some other pattern companies I haven’t heard of. I’m only aware of the varieties you’d see at Joanne’s and such…

    So, where can you find these other options?
    Which one would be good for simple designs that are easy to construct and make?
    Is there a good book you could recommend on this?

    I’ve thought of just making a pattern or muslin based on a shirt I’ve altered that fits well, would that be a better option?

    Help…I don’t know where to start!!! Thanks for any advice you could give :) :) :)

    – BTW, I’d love to make a long sleeved version of the maroon shirt pictured in your post – the placket in front is REALLY cute :)

  6. This shirt looks so comfortable, I especially love the shirt you made ​​from your husband’s shirt, so soft …. I think the first one works well for fall with these wonderful colors ….

  7. Hello Qui. I have just discovered your blog from a link “somewhere”. That is the perils of the dark vortex of the interwebs. Lovely shirt sewing and a great idea for repurposing shirting. I do love your red dog, many years ago we had a darling red cattle dog (Rex) and blue cattle dog (Jess) and they are forever in my heart. And Rex was a master at licking his bits at THE most inopportune time.

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