Shirred Maternity Tunic top

This top is just such a winner. I love it so much that it’s one of the few things that I made as maternity wear, but still wear now. I think you gals are really going to like it!

The original idea came from this super cute Anthropologie tunic that was sadly sold out.

So I thought, why not make a knock off? And i think it turned out pretty darn similar!!

I actually think this would work really well as nursing wear too – and to be honest, i’m taking it on vacation with me next month as a non-maternity beach cover up!

What you’ll need:

– a men’s button shirt. You want it to be quite large so that it fits nice and loosely over your belly. I used a mans shirt that was 2 sizes larger than i wear in womens. ie. i wear a women’s medium, and I used a men’s XL shirt.
– elastic thread (If you want some help learning how to sew with elastic thread then check out this post)

What to do:

1) First things first, we’ll need to make the sleeves smaller. We’re going to use the cheaters method we used in our Peasant top – which basically involves cutting the sleeve smaller (like below) and sewing. I started off with a short sleeve men’s shirt, but I would recommend using a longer sleeved one and keeping the sleeves long until the end.

2) Now we’re going to cut away at the neckline. Since this shirt is much larger than my actual size, the shoulders are too wide. So you’ll need to measure either your shoulder (kind of hard on yourself) or measure the shoulder seam of an existing shirt you have. Add on a 1/4″ to this measurement and then cut the neckline like below.

Now you’ve probably realised that the neckline is now way bigger than the collar. That’s okay! We want that! The great thing about this top is that the neckline is gathered where it attaches to the collar stand (that band under the collar) – which makes it perfect for replicating with a men’s shirt!

3) If you have a pocket on your shirt, and don’t want it to be there, i’d say carefully unpick it now

4) Take the collar and carefully unpick it so that you end up with 3 pieces, the collar, the collar stand, and some extra shirt fabric. You can toss the collar and extra fabric, but keep that collar stand!

5) Carefully top stitch the top edge of the collar stand.

6) Now we’re going to gather up the neckline and attach it to the collar stand. Sew just under a 1/4″ from the raw edge all the way around the neckline using the longest stitch on your machine. Do not backstitch! Holding the fabric stationary in one hand, pull one of the loose threads with your other, and it should gather up really easily!

7) Even out the gathers so that the neckline is the same size as the collar stand. (I weighted my gathers more heavily towards the front of the shirt). Then pin the collar stand to the neckline (place the raw edge of the neckline inside the two pieces of the collar stand) and then carefully top stitch to attach it all together.

8) Now it’s time for that shirring!! Find your empire waistline and mark it. Then using tailors chalk or pins, mark 5 lines on your top that are 1/4″ apart. Leave about 2″ on the sides of your top unshirred.

9) Remember to sew on the right side/outside of the shirt. Sew your lines of shirring from the placket to your marked line. When you’re done, push the threads through to the back side using a needle and then tie off the ends ( If you need some more info about sewing with elastic thread then check out this post.)

10) Turn our top inside out and spray the elastic with water, then press with your iron. This will help the elastic to recover a bit and will tighten up those shirred rows!

11) Almost done!! Roll up your sleeves till they’re just above your elbows, and then sew a few stitches to secure everything in place.

And that’s it!!! You’re done! Enjoy you’re cute little Anthro knock off!


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  1. angela says

    I don’t know how you keep churning out these amazing tutorials! I can’t wait to make this one! my husbands shirts are no longer safe lol

  2. Chelsi Biehl says

    I love that you gave a tut for this shirt. when I saw the post yesterday, I thought, “oh great, I shirt that I love, but now have to come up with on my own!” Thank you, Thank you! I can’t wait to make one for myself. I have a shirt similar to this that is not maternity, so don’t feel bad about wearing it!!!

    • says

      hehe i’m so glad you liked it!! I don’t know why i always feel silly about wearing my maternity things later on… i should just get over it! thanks for the encouragement hun! xoxo

  3. Sara Mack says

    Awesome! Megan I just want you to know how much I appreciate your tutorials and willingness to share so many of your great ideas for free. Looking forward to trying this so much. I think I’ll try it in a plaid :)

    • says

      You are so welcome Sara! It absolutely makes my day to hear that people are enjoying the tutorials! It makes all the time involved worth it!!

      I think yours will turn out really cute in plaid!! XOXO

  4. Emma says

    Genius! This is the best item of maternity clothing I have seen – excuse me while I go and raid my husband’s wardrobe…

    Thank you for the wonderful tutorial as well.

  5. says

    Love it! My husband says he needs some new shirts, so maybe I’ll force the issue and take my pick from what’s currently there!?!

  6. Inge Tanli says

    This top is so cute. One of my hubby shirt is ready..I can’t wait to start this project! Any alteration for the back? I wonder how the back part looks like when it’s done, bcoz the original shirt size is quite big.

  7. Alison says

    Bummed I tried this today and the collar was all wring felt really weird like it was to small for me once gathered.

  8. Vandana says

    I love this shirt very much…this is my first pregnancy and i came across this wonderful website which is very helpful for women like me, thanks a lot…I have a small silly doubt…how will the back look like?…will there be gathers even in the back?

  9. says

    I made a plaid version of this yesterday and I must say I LOVE it – I don’t want to take it off! You can see my finished shirt here: I am just starting my 2nd trimester, so am not very big yet but my normal clothes are getting snug around my waist and my belly pops out of the bottom of the shirts I normally wear. I need to hit up the thrift store for some more shirts to make in to this style – thanks so much for a great tutorial and I can’t wait to try out the others you have!!! You are amazing!!

  10. says

    I just finished this shirt this evening. I also had fits with the collar. But after 3 attempts at making it work…it finally did! I’m so glad I persevered because this is probably going to be one of my favorite maternity shirts. I found that if I angled the collar down in the front, it laid much better. I also used a shirt that was WAY too big (a mens 2xl, and I am usually a women’s medium), so there were a lot of adjustments to be made anyway. But thanks to this wonderful tutorial I was able to push through the rough spots and come out with a shirt I love. So glad you write this blog!

  11. randi says

    If I put elastic thread in the bobbin, what do I put in the top thread? Does it need elastic thread too, or do I just leave it with regular thread?

  12. Sarah Bales says

    What size men’s shirt do you recommend for these maternity shirts? My sister wears a maternity large in most things but sometimes an XL if it involves buttoning over her chest. Thanks.

  13. Leslie says

    It also strikes me that you could potentially even get extra use from the armpit stained white shirts most men end up with but upcycling into this cute tunic! I am a newbie sewer, but I may have to try this.

  14. Rosemary says

    I love this shirt and tried making this shirt twice and ended up with it bunching up in my armpits and making me look huge! Any idea what I did wrong? Took too much material from the sleeves? Gathered the neckline too much? Maybe I started with the wrong size shirt to begin with?

  15. Sarah says

    I was so excited to make this, as I don’t have my same source of borrowed maternity clothes this time around. I am in the middle of making it, just tried making the sleeves smaller, and already I have it screwed up and I don’t want to make the same mistake again if I attempt it again. I thought I was following your guide and cutting some of the bulk out of the armpit area, but once I had the sleeves all sewn up again the shirt was way too tight across my bust! What did I do wrong? I tried to taper the seam down as quickly as I could on the side seam, but I think it took too much of the shirt away. How far down the side seam do you cut away when trying to get rid of the armpit bulk? Sorry for the rambling comment, I’m just really bummed that this isn’t working out for me already on the first step. Thanks!

  16. Ilyse says

    Ah! Spent the day grumbling at my closet full of shirts too small for my now-immense belly and then I remembered this tutorial! I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow. :)

  17. staci says

    SWEET! This is so goshdurned cute and I’ll make it and wear even though I’m waaaay past pregnancy, lol!

    Thank you so much for sharing your instructions! :d

  18. says

    I used one of my husbands old shirts this weekend and made this and am so pleased with how it turned out!! It will definitely be a work staple for the rest of my pregnancy!

  19. Ashley P says

    This is so awesome! I did the project with a Hawaiian shirt for a luau at work! It was a little different working with rayon, but your tutorial made it not so intimidating. And after doing it once, I’m defintely confident enough to tackle some more projects! Thank so much for posting the tutorial!

  20. Erin G says

    Love all your items and patterns…came across it all on pinterest nearing the end of my fourth pregnancy…wish I had found all these ideas sooner! Looking forward to trying some as I think empire waist tops are flattering on even when not pregnant!

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