Refashioning: A Man’s Polo into a Woman’s Polo

You know what gets me through winter? 


I can’t wait to sew spring clothes.  Initially my plan was to wait for the New Year before pulling out the spring fabric, but my winter doldrums have gotten so bad that I decided to start on a small spring project to lift my spirits.

The tee-shirt pattern and original polo.

Here is the first of my spring sew-ups; a refashioned men’s polo.  Taking an XL men’s polo bought at a thrift store, my first thought was that I could get a regular t-shirt out of it.   But when I pulled it out I thought it would be a shame to waste that finished neckline. I don’t make polo shirts for myself, and I have such a hard time getting ones to fit well in plus-sizes.  On a whim I decided to cut it down into a women’s polo.

I cut up the side seams and along the armscye. 

Cut right beside the seams.

Laying the sleeves aside, I fold the polo in half matching the shoulder seams.

Matching shoulder seams fold the shirt exactly in half.

Next I took a TNT t-shirt pattern that I have already successfully fit and laid it over the polo.

Lay the pattern on top of the shirt use it as a rough guide to cut in an armscye curve. I did not cut down the sleeves for this shirt as I often find sleeves binding, I thought the extra material in men's shirtsleeves would be a plus.

This gave me a guideline for grading down the shoulder seam.  I didn’t cut exact to my pattern though.  Allowing some extra room in the shoulder I winged it. 

Then I reattached the arms flat.  Tidied up the side seams and sewed them. 

After a try-on I marked and sewed the hem.

The finished polo.

Overall, I am very pleased.  As a plus-size woman sometimes I am advised to buy men’s tee’s and polo’s, but frankly the fit is so unfeminine.  The shoulders hang off of me and the effect is dumpy and depressing.  Cutting down the shoulder was all it took to feminize the shirt.

As the original polo was meant to hang from a man's body, the white fabric is a wee bit see-through when the shirt is more fitted. Will need a tee-shirt bra or weight loss.

However, it did hoochie-mamma on me

Advice to others: If you want to retain the neckline, you will perforce cut down the shoulder.  When you cut the shoulder back, the sleeve moves inward no longer meeting at the old armpit point.  Your armpit point moves towards the center of the shirt thereby decreasing the circumference. 

Two options at that point:

1) Accept the more fitted version.

2) Buy a shirt so large that you will still have ease even after moving the armpit point inwards.


  • If you have a tried and true pattern to use as a guide the whole project could take less than one hour.  As I did not have to construct a neckline, collar or sleeve cuff for this shirt, that cut my time down significantly.
  • Thrift store shirts are cheap.
  • If you make a mistake you haven’t lost much in the way of money.
  • Men’s knit shirts are often of high quality material often unavailable in fabric stores.
  • It’s just fun!



  • It may take more than one attempt to get a successful refashioning.
  • If you are in the upper plus-sizes it may be hard to find sufficiently large men’s shirts.
  • The shirt you refashion will always be smaller than the original.  Buy two or more sizes up.  (This one came out so fitted that it requires a tee-shirt bra!  Didn’t see that coming.)
  • The refashioned garment may bear some of the same fitting issues, such as folds, as the original RTW garment.  That is because you probably won’t have enough material to cut your way out of it. 

Will I Sew it Again?

All that was left at the end. I took the cut off original hem and made two headbands to hold back my bangs when washing my face. It was throw-away material anyway and at least it will get more use before its certain demise.

Yeah, I think so.  I have several more men’s knit shirts and I am trying various patterns with them.  The process is fun and I hope to reach the point where I have a method that is TNT, thereby incrementally increasing my choice in garments if I can reliably alter RTW bought at bottom-dollar from the thrift store.

Next Post: Tuesday, December 21, 2010: Finishing some things from the sewing basket.  Hope to be ready to show them.


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