How to turn a man’s shirt into an apron

mens shirt apron title

Are you looking for a great gift for someone who loves to cook or do outside barbecuing?  This apron is great for both guys and girls.   Just choose a manly looking plaid if it’s for a man, and resist the temptation to add ruffles or other frou-frou embellishments to make it look “cute”.  If you show it your best girlfriend and she says “Oh that’s so cute!”, then you went too far for a guy gift.

So let’s get started.  I began by looking for men’s dress shirts at my local Goodwill that had attractive plaids.  The red apron is an XL men’s shirt and so is the brown and white, except that the brown and white one was a Big and Tall version.  It your recipient is larger than average you might want to go that route.

I started by laying the shirt out flat and buttoning all the buttons.

red men's dress shirt

Next I got one of my little boy’s crayola markers in a nice dark purple so it would show up well, and sketched out my cut lines.  I started at one inch away from the collar seam and stayed one inch away from the sleeve seam as shown.  Repeat on both sides.   I frequently use crayola water color markers to make marks on fabric projects because the ink rinses out very quickly with just a little stream of cold water.  Don’t use a permanent marker, in case your marks end up needing to be altered.

apron cut lines drawn

Next I flipped the shirt over and connected the two collar lines across the back, staying one inch away from the existing seam.

back collar cut line

Here,  you can see that I have cut along the marker lines.  Next cut up along the side seams to detach the front piece from the back.

cut side seams



Cut the two sleeves off as close to the seam as possible.  They should look something like this.  Trim the extra fabric off as shown along the black lines, leaving a large plain square.  These will be turned into pockets later so set them aside.

apron sleeves

Next fold over 1/3th of the one inch seam allowance we left while cutting the rest of the shirt away, and then fold that over again and stitch along the edge to hem of all the cut edges as shown.  You will also need to sew 3/4ths of the way up along the button placket to keep the shirt closed permanently.  Leave the top two buttons un-sewn to allow for head room.  You might need to use a zipper-foot to get close enough to the buttons to sew a straight line.


Sew the back of the collar just like the rest of the hems, using the fold-over hem.   Always sew as close to the outside edge of the fold as possible so that the seam will lay as flat throughout many future washings.  If just you sew through the middle it will tend to curl up over time.  *Note, do not sew over top of the pins, remove them just before they reach the presser foot.

collar seam

The two sleeves that we cut off can now be added to the front to become pockets.  Tuck the three edges under by about 1/4 of an inch and pin into place.  Top stitch as shown along the black lines.

pockets added

Next you need to find that back panel piece we set aside so we can create the two ties.    Cut two long pieces of fabric (as long as you can from your particular shirt scraps) that are about 4 inches wide.  Fold each one in half  lengthwise, with right sides facing and stitch along the cut ends, leaving one short end, un-sewn.  Turn the tie right side out and iron flat.  Repeat for the second tie.

making the ties

Tuck the un-sewn edges into the end by about 1/4 of an inch, pin to the backside of the apron corner and stitch twice into place, to reinforce.  Repeat for the other side.

ties attached

Iron the whole apron very well, removing wrinkles and flattening the hems.

finished red apron

And there you go!  It took me about an hour to make my first one because I was still learning as I went, plus setting up and finding my tools.  But second one only took about 30 minutes.  Go me!  They are quite simple really, give it a try.  Please share a photo in the comments below of your  finished aprons!


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