Upcycle an Old Shirt and Ties Into a Terrific Tank Top

photo of necktie buttondown tank top

photo of back of necktie buttondown tank top

The summer heat can often inspire creativity for cool new projects. That’s exactly how this necktie and button-down mens shirt reconstruction materialized. You can mix and match shirt and tie patterns and transform them into wild creations or simple smocks. If you don’t have a shirt and a few neckties that are ready for remaking in your own closet, ask your friends or visit your favorite thrift store.

Get down to business and grab two neckties, a dress shirt and a few simple sewing tools to create a tank top that will help you keep your cool while the summer is still sizzling hot. And for more creative tie upcycling ideas, check out this post on 5 Ways to Reuse Men’s Ties from HGTV’s Design Happens.

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Step 1

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Collect your materials. The button-down shirt should be about one size too large for you. The sleeves can be any length. One necktie should be a skinny tie that will be used for the waist. The other tie is for the straps and can be any size.

 

Step 2

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Cut off the arms of the shirt. Keep close to the seam as you’re cutting.

 

Step 3

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Cut a straight line across the top of the shirt that falls 3 ½” above the armholes.

 

Step 4

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

To taper in the sides of the shirt by 1 ½”, flip the shirt so that the wrong side is facing out. Then, measure and mark 1 ½” from the seam at the armhole. Mark an angled line down to the bottom edge of the shirt. Repeat for the other side.

 

Step 5

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Stitch along the marked line. Trim excess fabric, leaving about a half inch seam allowance. Flip the shirt back to the right side.

Step 6

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Next, cut your shirt into two pieces. Measure 7” from the top edge, and cut a straight line across the center of the shirt. If a button falls at this cutting line, adjust ½” in either direction to allow for clearance. This is where the center necktie band will be set in.

Step 7

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Locate the center of the skinny tie. With the right side of the bottom half of the shirt facing out, place the center of the tie at the top edge of the button opening. Make sure that the wrong side of the tie is against the right side of the shirt.

Step 8

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Then, place the right side of the top portion of the shirt against the centered tie and bottom portion of the shirt. Line up the button openings. Pin in place. Continue pinning around the front half of the shirt, sandwiching one edge of the necktie between the top and bottom of the shirt. Pin in this fashion from one side seam to the other side seam.

Step 9

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

To pin the backside of the shirt, taper the necktie so it is no longer caught in the seams. The necktie should hang loose at the side seams of the shirt. Pin so that the top and bottom portions of the shirt are pinned together.

Step 10

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Stitch along the pinned line, leaving a ½” seam allowance. Flip the shirt so the wrong side is facing out.

Step 11

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

To finish the armholes of the shirt, fold the top edge of each armhole down by ¼” on the wrong side of the fabric. Run a hot iron along this fold. Then fold another ¼” down along the same edges. Iron along this fold. Then, stitch along the folded areas.

Step 12

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

To complete the top edge of the shirt, fold the top edge down by ¼” on the wrong side of the fabric. Do this for the front and back of the shirt. Then, fold the fabric down again by ½” to create another crease. These folds will create a casing for the elastic. Stitch a straight line 1/8” up from the bottom edge of the crease to create a hem. Repeat for the back of the shirt.

Step 13

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Flip your shirt to the right side. Take your ¼” elastic and attach a safety pin to one end. Work the safety pin and elastic through the front casing. Stitch the elastic in place at one end. Then gather the top edge so that the elastic makes the top edge about 2” shorter than before the elastic was set in. Stitch the elastic into place at the other end. Repeat this step for the back casing of the shirt.

Step 14

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Take your second necktie and cut two 13” pieces starting from the skinny edge. These pieces will become your shoulder straps.

Step 15

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Tuck the bottom ½” of each end of the tie into itself. Iron along each tucked edge. Then, stitch along each tucked edge.

Step 16

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

Place the right side of one end of the necktie piece against the wrong side of the front top edge of the shirt. Pin in place. Then, pin the other end of the necktie against the back edge of the shirt. Repeat for the other side. Stitch the straps into place.

Step 17

 Open Galleryillustration of button down shirt and neckties

To suit up in your newly remade fashion, tie the waist strands into a loose knot as though you were tying a necktie. Slip on your new tank and tighten up the tie.

Materials

  • 1 button down shirt
  • 1 skinny necktie
  • 1 more necktie, any size
  • ¼”-wide elastic

Tools

About Tiffany Threadgould 

12Posts

I am a design junkie who gives scrap materials a second life and the head of design at TerraCycle, a company that collects and creates products from waste. My ...

More About Tiffany Threadgould

6 Responses

  1. rwaaslance says:

    I like this idea… it's SO HOT during summer and this gives some visual interest and patterns without adding another layer. I hate those stupid Pins of models wearing a scarf during summer to add some "style." Are you kidding me? It's sweltering outside and you're wearing another layer???

  2. Debbie says:

    My husband passed and was a big guy, so I like the idea of revamping one of his shirts as maybe a dress…did I mention he was a big guy?

  3. Brenda says:

    I think this idea is quite clever and makes use of cotton shirts that might otherwise have been tossed due to tears, stains or otherwise. Could see this working as maternity or regular wear for hot summer days. If working with a nice white cotton/linen blend, you could also do a nice camisole.

  4. queenie says:

    Looks like an old maternity top – that's lame.

  5. crivera says:

    Lame

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