How to Upcycle a Tunic

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Learn how to upcycle a tunic for a toddler using a free peasant dress pattern. An adult shirt makes a great toddler tunic!

I have a funny story about this upcycle. Last summer I was yardsaling and came across a chambray tunic that said XL on the tag. I didn’t try it on but bought it and took it home.

Once I was home I realized it was a girl’s XL and not a women’s XL. It kind of fit since it was a boxy tunic, but the neckline was too high and weird.

So first I tried cutting along the sleeves through the neckline and adding some pink lace. It was a cute fix, but I still never wore it. It went in the upcycle pile. Even though it’s not as basic as a tee upcycle or as cute as a cardigan upcycle, I still really love a good chambray peasant-style tunic.

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

what is upcycling?

Upcycling is to reuse material to create something better than the original. I usually use this to describe when I’m sewing adult clothing into clothing for children or I’m sewing clothing into an accessory or house item.

Upcycling saves time, saves money, saves the environment, and saves memories.

Save time by reusing details from the original shirt. Save money by using something you already have.

Save the environment by keeping t-shirts out of the landfill. Save memories by reusing a favorite adult t-shirt for your toddler or child.

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

How to upcycle a tunic


  • Any woven top, I used a girl’s XL chambray tunic.
  • Sewing supplies
  • Peasant Tunic Pattern – I used the free Peasant Dress Pattern by Once Upon a Sewing Machine


1. Draw on the hem allowance lines. (You cannot see mine because I just folded the pattern on the line, so you could see what I was doing.)

2. Fold the shirt along the center front. Line up the center front of the pattern with the fold. Line up the hem with the hem allowance line.

3. Do the same on the back.

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

4. I wanted to use the least amount of pink lace as possible so I fold the sleeve along the pink lace. I also wanted to keep the button placket detail. I lined up the pattern fold with the fold opposite the lace. Line up the hem with the drawn hemline.

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

5. Assemble the pattern as directed by the pattern instructions.

You can see the pink lace just peeking out on the back. Even it it originally was a mistake, it does give it a nice feminine touch! I do love chambray and this adorable tunic. It’ll also be one to grow into. Do you see that my son’s striped shirt and my daughter’s bloomers match? I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on for so long! 

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

Find the big list of all the upcycling tutorials I’ve created!

Share any upcycle inspired projects for your children with the hashtag #upcycledkid!

How to Upcycle: Baby Peasant-Style Tunic // DIY Sew

heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather