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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lin

How to upcycle old leggings and a t-shirt into a cute new top

Upcycle old leggings and a t-shirt into a new top

Don't throw away your old leggings! Upcycle them with a t-shirt to make a new top. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make sleeves from your old leggings and sew them to a t-shirt to create a new color block top.

Read on for the full tutorial, or watch the video:


One pair of leggings

One t-shirt

Your favorite long sleeves t-shirt to use as a pattern


Sewing machine



30 minutes

Here's a quick overview of the project

Step 1: Cut down the sides of the t-shirt

Step 2: Cut out sleeves from the leggings

Step 1: Cut down the sides of the t-shirt

The t-shirt I had was oversized and baggy. To alter it to fit, I laid my favorite long sleeve t-shirt on top of it, folded back, and cut around it with a 1/2" seam allowance

Upcycle leggings and t-shirt into a cute new top

Step 2: Cut out sleeves from the leggings

Lay the long sleeves of your template t-shirt over the leggings, aligning the hems. We'll reuse the legging hems to save time on sewing. This is a trick I learned over my years of upcycling. It's a great time saver and saves me from hemming, which I hate.

Fold back the bodice of your template t-shirt to reveal the armhole. Cut around the armhole with a seam allowance.

Make t-shirt sleeves from old leggings

Cut out the sleeve seam with a seam allowance.

Your sleeve should look something like this. Repeat with the other leg.

Step 3: Attach the sleeves to the t-shirt

I used the flat attachment method to sew the sleeve to the bodice. Instead of an inset sleeve, I sewed the shoulder of the sleeve to the flattened armhole of the black t-shirt. I prefer this method because 1) it's faster and 2) I avoid puckered shoulders.

Open up the bodice and lay it flat. With right sides together, pin and sew the shoulder cap of the sleeve to the flattened armhole of the bodice.

Attach upcycled leggings sleeves to t-shirt

Step 4: Sew the sides of the bodice and sleeves

With right sides together, fold the bodice and the sleeves lengthwise. Pin and sew along the edge.

Step 5: Enjoy your new top

In less than one hour, you'll have a super cute t-shirt with leggings sleeves. Using your favorite t-shirt as a pattern will guarantee a great fit.

Leggings and t-shirts come in so many fun colors and patterns, so have fun and mix it up. I chose these leggings because I loved the bold tribal pattern, and they really pop against the black bodice. Use leggings and t-shirts that reflect your personal style, and get ready for lots of compliments.


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