Posted by: michelenel | 2 August, 2013

Freebie shirt into toddlers trousers…..

I was given a couple of free promotional shirts that I thought my hubby and son would wear – HA! what a joke; you should have seen their faces when I handed them over – even the suggestion that we remove the embroidered logo didn’t seem to appease them.  Never deterred, I immediately had the idea to use them for a pair of toddlers trousers.  Having arrived back from my treatment at the hospital feeling really ill and very sorry for myself I needed something to take my mind off the morning and when I spotted the abandoned shirt in my sewing room I immediately got to work; here’s how…..

1.  Find an existing pattern or a favourite pair of trousers to use as a template.

2.  Lay the shirt flat so that the front and back pieces of the shirt are cut out together for the  front and back trouser pieces.


3.  Place your front pattern piece onto the double layer of the shirt so that the armseye (armhole) forms the centre front and crotch of the trousers – it doesn’t have to be perfect to the pattern, just more or less the same.  Use the pockets to form a decorative feature on the trousers; mine had two pockets so I used them both as a feature on the front rather than on the back of the trousers.


4.  Repeat this for the back pattern piece on other side of the shirt.  You now have your four trouser sections.

5.  Stitch the trousers together along the centre front seam.


6.  Stitch the trousers together at the centre back seam.

7.  Stitch the two side seams together.


8.  Overlock or zigzag the centre front, centre back and side seams to neaten them off (try use the same colour thread and not be lazy like me!!)


9.  Stitch the front and back inner leg seams together from the trouser hem on one side to the crotch and down the other inner leg seam to the other trouser hem. Reinforce the crotch by sewing another row of stitches inside the first seam from about the thigh level along the crotch to the other thigh.

10.  Hem the trouser legs by rolling up and pressing around 1cm on each leg. Roll up again by another 1cm to form a neat hem.

11.  Stitch around each leg hem twice to form a nice neat hemline.  Again, you can do only one row of stitches but I think it looks better with two – you decide.

12.  On the centre front and on either side of your centre front seam, mark two buttonholes for a tie.  This must be the width of your elastic plus a 1/2 centimeter down from the raw edge otherwise your holes will be on the inside of the trousers when you insert the elastic and turn the waistband down.


13.  Sew two buttonholes on your marks using a small scrap of fabric on the wrong side to reinforce the fabric.  Cut closely around the reinforcing square.  Cut open your buttonholes.


14.  Using an overlocker or zigzag stitch, stitch your elastic around the waist of the trousers right on the edge – you need to catch the edge of the elastic and the trousers.  I did not measure the elastic but rather just stretched it as much as I could as I knew the waistband would still be too big and therefore need a drawstring later.  Using the overlocker and/or zigzag means you do not need to fold the waistband under twice to hide the raw edges.


15.  Fold the elastic over to the inside to form a waistband and sew all around the waistband – firstly along the raw edge and then at the top of the casing.  The two rows of stitches look much nicer than only one along the bottom of the casing.


16.  Thread a piece of ribbon or drawstring through the waistband casing from one buttonhole to the other.  Tie a knot in each end of the drawstring to prevent it from fraying and to stop it pulling through the holes.


Now for the hard part!  If you have an embroidered design then you may need to unpick it if, like me, you’ve chosen a shirt with a rather inappropriate logo for a 1-year-old!  This step took me twice as long as the entire sewing process!IMG_2176

I didn’t unpick the little crown in the hope that no-one will recognise it without the text; so the first smarty-pants that mentions that it looks just like the crown from a bottle of C….a is going to get a swift kick in the pants! 🙂

What are you waiting for – get out there and find some old shirts and get sewing.  This will also make some amazing shorts from an old checked shirt – or what about that old hawaiian shirt that your hubby has had stashed away in the back of the wardrobe since the 1990s!!

IMG_2183     IMG_2184     IMG_2177



  1. Very resourceful… the grown up men’s loss is this toddler’s gain. Also the crown logo will make for a great story when he’s older! You saint unpicking that embroidery – I’d have sewn a toddler appropriate patch over the top!

    • If I had a patch it would definitely have been my favoured option!!! Next time hopefully it won’t have a logo at all 😊

  2. What a neat idea!!

    • Seriously, I am NEVER throwing away old shirts again 😄

    • I love it so much!! It was one of those lightbulb moments when I realised that the front seam was almost exactly the shape of the arm on a shirt! 😊

      • I’m going to have to raid my husband’s closet now! And about you being “lazy” with your over locker thread, mine is 4 different colors that I never change lol, I look at it as embellishment! I figure no one sees seams from the outside and I am one of those weirdos who likes looking at stitches:)

  3. I love it! That is just too cool!

    • Don’t you love it when you find a really great way to use up unwanted stuff! 😄

  4. […] of my menfolk would touch, but made the most wonderful kiddies shorts…on the blog here and here.  This was such a lot of fun and the results were so […]

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