DIY Free People Denim Shirt Hack

by Kirsten Nunez ; Updated September 28, 2017

When it comes to DIY fashion, simple ideas can go a long way. It doesn't have to be all about the fancy techniques or intricate details. Instead, it can feature basic transformations that highlight your personal style. This easy DIY hack inspired by a $396 button down shirt at Free People is the perfect example. The techniques used in this project can be applied to any long-sleeved shirt. It doesn't hurt that it's an inexpensive way to re-purpose old clothing, too!


  • Decorative lace trim can be found in the trim section of your local fabric store. It is typically sold by the yard. For this project, 1/2 yard will be more than enough. Of course, it doesn't hurt to purchase an entire yard. This will allow room for error and experimentation.

    You can also order lace trim from websites such as Amazon or Etsy. Your best bet is to search for "white venice lace trim." Venice lace is a type of trim that does not have a net background. This will make it super easy to cut apart into separate shapes.

Cut the flower and leaf lace trims into separate pieces. Focus on the most significant shapes of the design. For best results, cut each trim in a way that works best for its unique design. You should have a main flower and several leaf and stem components.


  • Keep in mind that there is an endless variety of lace trims out there. There's a good chance your trim will look different; this is what makes it fun, after all!

Rearrange the pieces to form a flower with a stem. Again, the number of required pieces will depend on the specific lace designs used.

Cut a piece of paper. It should measure the same width as one sleeve.

Insert the paper into one sleeve of the shirt.

Slide the paper to the elbow area of the sleeve. This will prevent fabric glue from seeping through to the other side.

If you're unsure where your elbow lands, try the shirt on. Mark your elbow with a pencil or a safety pin.

Attach the lace flower with a small amount of fabric glue. A few dots here and there will do the trick.


  • While fabric glue dries clear, it's best to apply just a small amount of fabric glue. Adding too much may cause the glue to seep through the fabric and paper, resulting in a gooey mess.

Adhere the stem and leaf pieces.

Let dry for 30 minutes. In the mean time, you can glue lace pieces to the other sleeve.

Sew a few stitches along the edges of the lace components. This will add extra security to odd-shaped edges, which are more likely to curl up.

To complete a full stitch, you'll have to slide your hand inside the sleeve to push the needle back through the fabric.


  • Don't stress out if the stitches aren't perfect. No one will be able to see them, as they'll blend in with the lace on the outside.

Repeat Steps 8–9 on the other sleeve. Set aside overnight to ensure that the fabric glue is completely dry.

Once the glue has dried, remove the paper inserts. Your new shirt is ready to show off.

To spice up your creation, add extra elements such as studs or rhinestones. The lace trim appliquè can be decorated to your heart's content. Just have fun with it!

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About the Author

Kirsten Nunez is a lifestyle writer and author focusing on crafts, recipes, and health. Since 2010, she has been sharing DIY projects at (formerly Studs & Pearls). In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." She lives in New York.