Easy Summer Top Pattern Review and shirt upcycle

before and after, mans shirt and summer top

Here's how I got on adapting the New Look K6483 pattern that came with Sew Style & Home Magazine to make a summer top from an old shirt.

summer top from a mans shirt.jpg

A heady combination of all the amazing Me Made May challenge inspiration and one of my most favourite programmes "The Great British Sewing Bee" being back on the telly was too much for me recently. So whilst in the supermarket I found the June Issue of Sew Style and Home magazine just fell into my trolley before I could stop it! It's a great magazine with loads of projects inside with downloadable patterns but one what really caught my eye was the actual real paper pattern that comes with it. New Look K6483, a quick and easy summery top with 5 variations, different combinations of neckline and arm hole/sleeve.


I had an old man's shirt (the shirt is old not the man that used to wear it!) that I wanted to upcycle to make myself a summery top and thought this pattern would be just right. It was!

before shirt.jpg

Making new clothes from old clothes is both easier and more difficult than making from new fabric. Things like hems can be reused to save you time and effort but you have less raw material to work with so compromises sometimes have to be made. You also need to adjust for features on the original garment you want to keep.

How to make a man shirt into a summer top using a New Look Pattern

The first thing I did was cut the shirt open by cutting the side seams and removing the collar and sleeves. I also took off the pocket from the front.

I choose style B from the pattern as my basis and thought I would have the buttons from the front of the shirt go down the back of the new top. Sadly I lost concentration for a second and promptly cut out the front of the top from the front of the shirt so that was the end of that!

It's a little awkward to fold the shirt in half with the buttons attached but not impossible. I adjusted the neckline a little so that the top button was nice and close to the neck edge.

I then cut the back of the top from the back of the shirt, on the fold. The pattern has a seam centre back so I reduced the width by overhanging the paper pattern over the fabric the width of the seam allowance.

The New Look K6483 pattern has facing to finish the neck and arm hole edge in one streamline piece. I really like this way of finishing a garment edges as it looks so sleek. I had planned to use the sleeve fabric to cut the facing but there wasn't quite enough fabric. I thought there would be plenty but apparently not.

I put the darts in and joined the front and back pieces as per the pattern instructions then I found this great tutorial from Sewaholic to add bias binding to necklines.

I had enough sleeve fabric to make bias binding for the neck edge

bias binding.jpg

and then found some white shop bought binding in my stash for the arm holes.

arm edge.jpg

The last thing was to sort out the buttons. I had wanted the buttons on the back because men's shirts have much larger gaps between buttons than ladies, I was worried about gaping. The solution was to take all the unused buttons from the shirt (very top, sleeve plackets, the spare inside ones) and add them in between the existing buttons. 

Summer top.jpg

I didn't need to do button holes, the top fits over my head without undoing it, this is just decorative. I just stitched the buttons right through the layers, no gaping now!

I see a little puckering with my top stitching round the neck hole in the photos. Would you believe me if I said they really don't notice in real life?

before and after.jpg

This is a great pattern, easy to adapt and I will definitely be using it again. (maybe next time with enough fabric to do the proper facings) It is a lovely comfy loose fit, but you could easily add some long darts in the back if you like a more fitted look. The bust darts are just right for me. My top is longer than the pattern as I used the shaped bottom edge of the original shirt.

finished summer top.jpg

All it all, after a few set backs and complications of my own making this was a really easy make.

I’ve made a couple more shirts into tops over the years, you might like to check these out too if you have some men’s shirts to upcycle.

To find more clothes refashioning ideas scroll to the bottom of the Sewing and Embroidery page, where you’ll find all the links.