Back to School Shirt

Three of my 7 grandkids are 7 years old and entering 2nd grade this year, two granddaughters and one grandson!   I decided to make back-to-school outfits for them. For the grandson, I wanted a button-down shirt, one for warm weather and one for cooler days. I found a nice homespun cotton fabric for the long-sleeve shirt but nothing really “spoke” to me for the short-sleeve shirt.

I went to the local thrift shop and looked at the XL men’s shirts. I found a couple with suitable plaids and got them for under $5 each. Long-sleeved is best – more fabric!

When using a ready-made shirt as a fabric source, you have a couple advantages but also need to be aware of a couple adjustments. As the hem and front placket are already done for you, you can skip the front facing and hemming options. If matching a curved hem, as I did, the back is cut as two pieces. Be sure to add a seam allowance in the center back (I added 1/2″) – along the fold line. With a small plaid this seam will not be visible. Be sure to reverse the pattern for the second 1/2 back piece.

cutting back

cutting back

Side Note: As an offshoot of my heirloom sewing, where all seams are finished in some fashion, I try to enclose ALL seams of my projects. Especially on children clothes. I believe this is a modified French seam as it is done on the inside. I trim one seam allowance down to a scant 1/4″. I then turn the other seam allowance over and under, enclosing the raw edge. This is then top-stitched.  FYI This is the long-sleeved shirt I made with the homespun cotton.

seam closeup

covered seam closeup

When placing the front pattern piece, slide the pattern out the width of the seam allowance along the center front edge. Since the front placket is done already, you won’t be stitching that seam. There are also no buttonholes to make or buttons to sew on!

cutting front

cutting front

Cut both sleeves off at the armhole seam and lay wrong sides together.

cutting sleeve

cutting sleeve

Once the pieces are cut out, this is all that remains of the original shirt! The larger pieces went into my scrap box. I also cut off the remaining buttons for my ‘button box’.


remains of original shirt

The last adjustment is to make sure the collar goes ALL the way to the edge of the front placket. Without a front facing, you need to make sure the collar seam is covered. Either select a pattern with this feature or adjust the collar to fit.

finished shirt

finished shirt

Not bad for around $5 and a few hours of sewing!

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  Isaiah 41:10


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About Old2New Heirlooms

An avid sewer ever since childhood, I have sewn countless garments, pillowcases, quilts, and more for family and friends. My passion is Heirloom sewing (also known as French sewing) but all projects are fun!

One response to “Back to School Shirt”

  1. Dawn says :

    Great job, Carolyn. You are so talented.


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