Shirt Sleeves into Toddler Harem Pants

Melissa, from Needle & Nest, is an upcycling connoisseur as you can see from the DIY Sleeves into Harem Pants project she is here to share today. Inspired to turn more trash into treasures? Check out Melissa’s upcycled t-shirt into harem pants, lace tablecloth into skirt, and the adorable doily vest project featured on that sweet model above.

But before you do, see the Upcycle Shirt Sleeves into Harem Pants project after the jump…

Shirt Sleeves into Harem Pants

Have a retro shirt? Have a sweet toddler who needs pants? Well you’re in luck, since today we’re upcycling shirt sleeves into funky harem pants for your stylin’ child! Azriel here doesn’t even try to model… she’s just that good at posing. :o)

You’ll need:
One adult dress shirt/blouse.
Waistband elastic (or a stretchy shirt sleeve as I used)
sewing machine

*I used a coral coloured dress shirt that used to belong to my sweet (deceased) Grandma when she was a volunteer at the hospital. The olive green short sleeve is used as the stretchy waistband for these pants (the rest of the shirt was used in a past d.i.y project).*

1. Measure the length of your child’s legs… and cut both arms off the dress shirt to match length.
I cut the shirt at an angle to leave room for the bum side of the pants.
2. If you have an adult stretchy short sleeve – it makes a perfect waistband. Otherwise you could just thread some elastic through a hem you would make for the pants at the end.

3. Already you have the basic layout of these harem pants. I like the button detail on the sleeves to be lined up at the outside of the pants – at the ankles.
4. Now you will cut 4″ downward on the inside seams of the pant legs – this is where you will sew the ‘crotch’ of the pants together.

5. Flip the sleeves inside out and bring the legs together where you cut the inside slits. Sew this together to join the legs at the crotch. A great time to use a serger if you have one, since I do not I just sew a straight stitch followed by a zig-zag on the outer edge for more support

6. Tuck your ‘waistband’ sleeve down into the pants (right sides facing inside).
7. Gather the pants around the smaller waistband and pin.
8. Sew around the joining edges and trim off excess.

9. Flip pants back out and marvel at your latest upcycling adventure!

I hope that was clear and helpful enough to get you confidently sewing your own version(?). I am not a skilled seamstress by any stretch.. and I sort of just ‘wing-it’ when it comes to inventing patterns and such. I’m sure that better tutorials exist out there – but in my mind – this is a random invention of my own “sew fast.stupid” approach to projects!
If you have any questions on it, just comment or email me.

Happy sewing friends!
Mel :o)




Thank you so much for your sharing website! I just started yesterday from a tutorial from your site and its so easy to follow your instructions. And I have never sewn anything before, so I am very impressed, as patterns storebought I just cant understand. Again, thank you for sharing all your projects with the world!


I am trying to make these pants and am a bit uncertain about measuring the legs/sleeves. Do you measure from the child’s ankle to their groin or to their waist? I want to make sure there is butt room lol


WOnderful post! So informative, and so sweetly made with love – thank you for sharing!
Can’t wait to try!



I cannot make these to work for us, in trying have used two shirts to bits. Good luck to all, I really wanted it to work, as it’s so cute.

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Carson Crew

Wow, so glad I found your Blog. I’m a beginner sewer & find your projects easy to do & directions easy to understand. I myself “Up-Cycle” , I often cut the bottom portion of my 3yr. Old daughter’s outgrown dresses & make them into Skrts. Easy peasy, all i do is gather & add elastic, simple eh?!
My Mom made my clothes when I was little & now I’m carrying on tradition. 🙂
Thank You for sharing your knowledge!


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