How to Make an Apron From a Man's Dress Shirt

    by Kathryn Hatashita-Lee

    About the Author

    Kathryn Hatashita-Lee has written articles and shot images for various publications. Her first children's story appeared in "Winds Through Time" (1998). She earned a B.A. in history at the University of British Columbia and a B.F.A. in photography at the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design.


    A man’s previously loved dress shirt can recycle into a simple apron that hangs from the waist. Large or extra-large shirts allow plenty of fabric to work with, but smaller shirts can suit a small-scale apron. Cutting three rectangles from the sleeves and shirt back can form the apron ties and front. Machine stitch each of these three rectangles and connect the pieces can create a personalized apron for a low cost.

    Things You'll Need

    • Dress shirt, washed and ironed
    • Scissors
    • Straight edge
    • Pencil
    • Thread
    • Straight pins
    • Iron
    • Seam ripper

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    Apron Ties

    Cut the two long sleeves from the armholes with fabric scissors.

    Cut one long rectangle of fabric from each sleeve with the help of a straight edge and a pencil. You will have two rectangles that will become apron ties.The rectangles should be 3 inches wide and as long as the sleeve allows.

    Fold one rectangle right sides together to form one long, narrow tie. Pin along one short end and the long, raw edge.

    Machine stitch the tie along one long edge and one short end with a straight stitch. One end will still have a raw edge for insertion into the apron.

    Trim the seam allowances and corners to reduce bulk. Turn the tie inside out. Press this tie.

    Repeat the sewing and pressing steps for the second tie.

    Apron Front

    Place the sleeveless, unbuttoned shirt on a flat surface. Spread the fabric so the back section remains flat.

    Cut a large rectangle from the shirt’s back section. This rectangle will form the apron body.

    Place the rectangle wrong side up on an ironing board. Press under approximately 5/8-inch on all four sides of the rectangle for the hem.

    Press the raw edge 1/4-inch on all four sides of the rectangle. Pin the hem in place. The hem width will measure approximately 3/8-inch.

    Machine stitch this 3/8-inch hem on all four sides. Remove every pin as the fabric feeds over the needle plate. Backstitch the last few stitches to reinforce. Trim these threads. A rectangle with four neat, finished edges should result.

    Attaching Ties

    Place the rectangle wrong side up on a flat surface. You can choose to sew a tall apron or a wide apron.

    Hold one apron tie and pin the tie’s raw edge 5/8-inch over the side hem of the rectangle at the top. The top edge of the tie and the top edge of the rectangle should form one long line. Repeat the pinning with the second tie on the opposite side of the rectangle. The apron will look like one large letter “T.”

    Fold the top edge over the back of the apron a few inches so the two ties flip over. This folded edge forms part of a band.

    Topstitch this portion of the apron's sides to fasten the two ties. Remove each pin as the fabric feeds over the needle plate. The raw edges of the two ties should hide in the apron sides.

    Trim the ties’ seam allowances from inside the band to reduce bulk.

    Topstitch from side to side over the band's previously stitched hem. Press the apron to finish.

    • If the shirt has a pocket, you can re-use this pocket on the apron front. Detach this pocket with a seam ripper, then topstitch or edge stitch this pocket to the apron. Backstitch the last few stitches to reinforce the pocket’s top edge.
    • The shirt buttons can decorate the apron, if desired.
    • A striped shirt can make diagonal stripes if you cut the rectangle on the bias.
    • The size of the paired ties and apron front depends on the size of the person wearing this crafted apron, the needed coverage and the available fabric. For a larger apron, cut and sew the shirt’s two front pieces to help expand the apron front.
    • Keep the iron, pins, needles and loose buttons away from small children.

    Photo Credits

    • sew on a button on a shirt image by Ivonne Wierink from