Transform an Old Shirt Into a New, Sleek Apron!

Do you have some old, unneeded button-front shirts hanging around? Turn them into a cute button-front DIY apron that is easy to sew!


These handmade aprons make great gifts and take no time at all. Taking advantage of the shirt design, they’re easy to pop over your head with nothing to tie.

Apron modeled

Here’s how to turn a button-up shirt into a DIY apron.

Step 1: Start with a large button-front shirt.

shirt plus sewing tools

A large men’s cotton shirt is perfect for this project. A plaid or print would look great!  It can be short or long sleeved, but the shirt does need to have have a collar and stand, which form the portion that goes over your head and behind your neck. 

Step 2: Cut the side, back and shoulder seams

cutting shirt along side seamStart by cutting up from the bottom edge of the shirt along the side seam. I chose to cut about an inch from the side seam, but you can make the apron larger by adding more distance at that point.

Then cut along the back armhole seam, up to the top of the shoulder. You can find the top of the shoulder by laying the shirt flat and marking with a pin. 

cut along shoulder up to collarNow cut along the shoulder line up to — but not through — the collar stand. The collar stand will create the neckband of the apron.

Repeat this step on the other side of the shirt, so you have just about removed the back. Be sure not to cut through the fabric of the back — we’ll use it later to make the straps, pockets and other trim. 

Step 3: Trim the collar edge

cut neckline edge below collar stand

Remove the back of the shirt by cutting it away very close to the edge of the collar stand. 

Step 4: Cut the shirt front

cutting shirt front

Next, cut the front shoulder and sleeve off of the shirt. I used a French curve ruler to mark the line — you can use a curved or straight line. You can even trace the shape off an existing apron.

To cut the other side and make them match, lay the first piece you cut over the other side. Use the cut piece as a guide to cut the second side.

Step 5: Fold, press and sew the edges

fold and sew edge of apronNow that you’ve created the apron shape, you need to finish the edges. I folded under, pressed and stitched along the cut edges, but you could also do a bias tape in a contrasting fabric to add another color. 

reinforce neck edge with stitching

Just to be on the safe side, do a bit of extra stitching at the corner where the shirt front meets the collar. This will reinforce this area and keep it from fraying or pulling apart.

Step 6: Cut the apron straps

cutting out apron ties

Using the fabric that you cut off the back of the shirt, cut out two pieces that are 4″ wide and the length of the shirt to make the ties. You could also make the straps from the fabric of the sleeves, or use the sleeves themselves as the ties for another way to reuse all the shirt pieces.

Fold and sew a narrow seam to make the straps, then turn right side out and press. 

Step 7: Attach the apron straps

sew ties on apron

Attach the apron straps at the sides. To make a clean, enclosed edge, pin and stitch with the strap edge as shown, then flip toward the outside edge and stitch again, enclosing the raw edge. 

Step 8: Embellish!

apron with spoon

You can embellish your apron with additional pockets as shown here or even create ruffle trim with the remaining fabric.

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