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From Rag to Heirloom Shirt Upcycle Sewing Project

Turn a shirt from an older relative into a shirt for a toddler in this heirloom shirt upcycle sewing project.

Toddler shirt upcycle sewing tutorial

Upcycled Shirt Sewing Project

My son Johnny is named after his Grandpa, John, who sadly passed away from cancer without getting to meet either of his grandchildren. My husband wore this shirt of his dad’s for years, to the point where it was almost completely worn out. I noticed that parts of the shirt (front and back) were less worn, so I thought it would be fun to turn it into a pajama top for Johnny to wear. I like to find ways to make a connection between my kids and their grandpa, especially where they can’t meet him and enjoy his kindness and goofy sense of humor.

There wasn’t enough fabric in good shape for pajama bottoms – maybe I’ll find another shirt or a pair of old pants to use…

How to Upcycle a Shirt to Make a Smaller Shirt


  • old shirt
  • thread
  • scissors
  • pattern or clothing to copy for a pattern


1) Cut out pieces. If you look closely, you’ll notice that I actually kept parts of the original shirt (lower hem and front buttons) intact. This means less sewing and makes it more like he is wearing his Grandpa’s actual shirt.

cutting out the shirt

Here are the pieces. I used a raglan sleeve design. I need to learn to take pictures so the pieces don’t look so distorted…

pattern pieces
3) Sew all edges with a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.

4) Sew together.

5) Enjoy :)

I made this one big – so he can grow into it (he has plenty of pajamas that fit right now) and so that I have some time to figure out what to make the pajama bottoms out of!

More Upcycled Sewing Projects

What are your favorite upcycled sewing projects?

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

6 thoughts on “From Rag to Heirloom Shirt Upcycle Sewing Project”

  1. ana @ i made it so

    oh it’s adorable! and it looks so soft, from all those years of wear. you did a great job. and such a nice way to make that connection with grandpa.

    thanks for sharing :)

  2. You did a great job on that! I remember my mom made clothes for us from her skirts, but I think she made like shorts. I think it is neat that you did that. ~

  3. That’s so cute! And soooo thrifty! I love it!Valerie< HREF="http://www.frugalfamilyfunblog.com" REL="nofollow">Frugal Family Fun Blog<>Good times on a budget!

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