Bear with me, this is my first tutorial ever! It's probably too much information but better safe than sorry
Last summer I underwent major surgery on my torso which resulted in a prolonged period of the inability to lift my arms. This, combined with the warm weather, made wardrobe prep very important! I was told I needed button-down shirts or things I didn't need to lift my arms up to put on. Alas, I found availability in stores for anything remotely cute and season concious lacking..
This led me to create a simple design which converted second hand men's button-down dress shirts into cute tanktops that could be worn in more than one way. I kept it simple in the hopes that someone going through any type of surgery on their torso or mid-section who knew sewing basics would be able to use this tutorial to create their own version
Or someone who wants to make something sustainable and girly! This is the final result:
ON TO THE TUTORIAL! (*jumps around with excitement* lol)
I started with a men's short sleeve button-down shirt. You should get a shirt that is substantially larger than what you would normally wear in order to compensate for bandages you might have and also you don't want it to be tight. Normally I could wear a small or medium but for the purposes of this project, I got X-Large or Large if they looked big enough. Also, make sure you get a shirt with snaps instead of buttons if you can. You don't want to have to exert yourself trying to button up things manually.
Turn the shirt inside out and cut off the sleeves leaving the seam allowance on the piece you are cutting off. Once you do this, cut off the collar as well. Don't throw this stuff out! You'll need it for later
Now that you have a raw edge around the arm hole, you need to finish it so it doesn't come apart while you are you working on the rest of the shirt. In order to do this, I created a rolled hem. I measured 3/8 inch from the raw edge of the arm hole and then folded it over itself again at 3/8 inch, pinning as I went. If you find this difficult, you can do the first fold and pin it as you go and then iron it to create a crease which will make things easier when you fold it again. Once you have the rolled hem on the arm holes, you need to sew everything down. With my sewing machine I stitched 1/4 inch from the edge on both sides.
Turn the shirt inside out (with the snaps done all the way up) and lay it out on a flat surface you can cut on. In order to create a straight upper edge, cut horizontally through the front and back just enough to bypass the neck curves.
After that, you need to decide wide you want the drawstring casing (casing is a fabric tunnel that you can feed elastic or a drawstring through to pull or draw up fabric with) along the front and back neckline.
I wanted my drawstring to be 3/8 inch wide so I gave myself a good amount of room and decided on 5/8 inch width for the casing. For this you also need to make a rolled hem by folding the front and back edges. You can make the first fold a little less than 5/8 inch if you feel confident or are worried about the length. After folding it over itself again at 5/8 inch, pin and sew it down. You want to sew it from the inside so you can make it as close as possible to the inside edge and give yourself enough space to feed the drawstring through.
The shirt is almost ready! Now you just need to make the drawstring. This is a sustainable design using the scraps to create a drawstring but if you want to make things easier for yourself you can use a ribbon, shoelace, or some other store bought drawstring notion and it will also work
Remember the sleeves and collar that you saved? Pull that stuff out now. First cut off any edges that contain the seam allowance. It is too bulky to use for the drawstring and will be a huge pain in the butt to use. You can discard those or use them for another project. Now that you have some pieces of fabric you can start cutting it into strips that will be sewn together to create the drawstring. The more you have, the better because along with the neckline drawstring, there is also one that goes around the waist! I cut my strips 1.5 inches wide then sewed the ends together to make a continuous strip.
Now you should have a pretty darn long fabric chain! Before going further, I folded the ends of my fabric so that they looked pretty and finished but this isn't a big deal if you are getting tired of all the sewing. It will just keep the ends inside and stop them from fraying!
Next iron it in half width-wise from the outside. This will give you a guide when you are folding the raw edges in so they are hidden inside when you finish. Fold each raw edge to the fold line and then fold it again along the ironed crease you made. This will create a type of double rolled hem that is a bit thicker and also has no raw edges. Pin it like this and then stitch twice, once to close the drawstring so as close as you are comfortable to the open edge side and then a second stitch line down the other side. This will keep your drawstring flat and the top-stitching just looks nice
The last step is optional. If you know how to make a button hole (it's pretty easy on most new machines as they have an automatic button holer) you can create one to feed the drawstring through. Where you put it is up to you, I put mine a little higher than my waist so that I wouldn't be pulling down on my bandages if it was tighter. I sewed the button hole through the front and back as close to the side seam as possible. This way you can have the drawstring entirely outside of the shirt.
And that's the end! You can tie the shirt in a bunch of different ways, my favorite is to have the drawstring tied entirely across the back, it makes a gathered kind of ruffle in the back and keeps the front a bit more fitted