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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lin

Get Creative with Your Wardrobe: Transforming Leggings into a Stylish Shirt

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

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

Are you tired of wearing the same old clothes? Do you want to spice up your wardrobe without breaking the bank? Look no further than your own closet! With a little creativity and some basic sewing skills, you can transform a pair of leggings into a stylish t-shirt sleeves. Yes, you read that right. Leggings aren't just for lounging around the house or hitting the gym anymore. By repurposing them into a shirt, you'll have a unique and trendy piece that's sure to turn heads. Not only will you save money by not having to buy a new top, but you'll also be doing your part to reduce waste and give new life to an old item of clothing. So, grab your leggings, and let's get creative!

Jump to the full tutorial, or watch the video:

Why leggings make great t-shirt sleeves

Leggings are made from stretchy material that hugs your body. This makes them the perfect material for t-shirt sleeves. Additionally, leggings come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can choose a pair that matches your personal style.

Another benefit of using leggings to create sleeves is that they are incredibly comfortable. Since leggings are designed to be worn for extended periods of time, you won't have to worry about feeling constricted or uncomfortable in your new shirt. Additionally, leggings are breathable and moisture-wicking, which means you'll stay cool and dry throughout the day.

Finally, using leggings to create a shirt is a sustainable and eco-friendly option. By repurposing an item of clothing that you already own, you'll be reducing your carbon footprint and helping to reduce textile waste. Plus, you'll feel good knowing that you're doing your part to protect the environment.

Choosing the Right Leggings for Your Shirt

Not all leggings are created equal when it comes to repurposing them into a t-shirt. To ensure that your new top looks and feels great, it's important to choose the right pair of leggings. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

- Material: Look for leggings that are made from a high-quality, stretchy material. Avoid leggings that are too thin or too thick, as they may not drape well when turned into a shirt.

- Color and pattern: Choose a pair of leggings that matches your personal style and complements your skin tone. If you're new to repurposing leggings, it's best to start with a solid color or a subtle pattern.

- Size: Make sure that the leggings you choose are the right size for your body. If they're too small, you won't be able to create a shirt that fits properly. Try sliding your arm down one of the sleeves to test the fit. No worries if the leggings are large and you can cut it down to fit.

Once you've chosen the perfect pair of leggings, it's time to start transforming them into a shirt.


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

Upcycle leggings and t-shirt into a cute new top

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

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.

Make t-shirt sleeves from old leggings

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

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

Attach upcycled leggings sleeves to 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.

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.

Transforming leggings into a stylish shirt is a fun and eco-friendly way to spice up your wardrobe without spending a lot of money. By following these simple steps, you can create a unique and flattering top that will turn heads wherever you go. Plus, by repurposing an old item of clothing, you'll be doing your part to reduce waste and protect the environment. So, grab your leggings and get ready to transform your wardrobe in a whole new way.

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