top of page
  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lin

How to upcycle an old t-shirt into a cute cottagecore top with puffy sleeves

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Is your closet cluttered with old t-shirts you never wear anymore? Upcycle them into a trendy cottagecore top with puffy, gathered sleeves. In this DIY thrift flip tutorial, I'll show you how to add sleeves made from a thrift store skirt and sew them to your shirt. This DIY cottagecore top has a sweet, feminine vibe that's easy to work into your wardrobe. Let's get started.


One old t-shirt

One large skirt

1/2" elastic

Time: 2 hours. Make this in the morning and wear it in the afternoon.

Difficulty: Intermediate pattern drafting to make the sleeves

Step 1: Turn the t-shirt upside down and cut out new armholes

t-shirt cottagecore upcycle cut armholes

Reuse the hem of the shirt as the new neckline by turning it upside down. Sew new side seams if needed to make the t-shirt fit your torso. Cut out new armholes, and cut out

Step 2: Thread elastic through the new neckline

Thread 1/2"elastic through the hem to prevent the new neckline from stretching and sagging. Use a safety pin as a "needle." Tack the elastic in place and cut off the excess elastic.

Step 3: Cut out sleeves from the skirt

Draft a very wide pattern for the sleeves, placed it on the fold of the skirt and cut out the sleeves. My sleeves were almost 24" wide. This may seem ridiculously wide, but it's necessary to create the puffy effect.

Step 4: Hem the bottom of the sleeve, add elastic and gather

Make a 1/2" casing for the hem and thread elastic through it, using a safety pin as the "needle." Gather the fabric while working the elastic through the casing. Tack the ends of the elastic together, and close the casing.

Helpful hint: Pin the end of the elastic to the sleeve so you don't accidentally pull it through the casing.

Step 5: Gather the shoulders

Make a 1/2" casing for the shoulders, thread elastic through it to create gathers, and tack the ends of the elastic to the ends of the casing.

Step 6: Sew the sleeve to the bodice

With right sides together, pin and sew the sleeve to the bodice.

Repeat the above steps for the second sleeve and enjoy your new cottagecore top upcycled from an old t-shirt!

Let's take a close-up look at the final cottagecore t-shirt, shall we?

Isn't this shirt adorable with the hat?

Let's admire the sleeves for a bit.

If you make this shirt, please share it on social media! I'd love to see your take on this upcycled DIY cottagecore t-shirt.

162 views0 comments


bottom of page