Re-Purposing: T-Shirt into Dress

Does your little girl have an old T-shirt?
One that is too short?
Stained on the belly?
Has a rip right through the fabric?
No worries……turn it into a sweet pleated dress.

With a nice big pleated waist line…
And a nice chunky bow to cinch it all in.
And yes, this dress is perfect for dancing…
and flapping like a bird…
Or just plain ‘ol being a kid…
If interested, I bought this fabric at ‘The Fabric Store‘.
(Riley Blake Designs Umbrella Tops in White here.)

Perfect for this time of year.
Ready to make your own?
First, grab an old knit Tshirt and decide where you want the top of the waist line to hit your little girl.  Place a pin there and measure down about 2 inches.  Then cut the shirt off there.
***Don’t throw the rest of the shirt away….I’ll show you how to use it on a different project.
Then cut two large rectangles for the skirt section of the dress.  My two pieces were 33 inches wide x 25 inches long.  The front of my shirt was 11 inches across, so I tripled that and cut a piece that was 33 inches wide.  For the length, I decided that I needed the bottom part of the dress to be 21 inches long from the top of the pleats, down to the bottom of the dress.  And then I needed an extra 2 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom……so that’s 25 inches long all together.
Make sure to cut 2 of these pieces.
I decided to make french seams on this dress for the side seams.  (But you can always just do a side seam and then zig-zag on the inside, to keep it from fraying.  French seams always look nicer though.)
To do this, place your two pieces together with wrong sides together, then sew these two pieces together along the side (25 inch side in my case) using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Then flip the fabric the other way and enclose the raw edges of that seam (iron first to help it lay flat) and sew a 1/2 inch seam allowance with the right sides together.
Then open it back up.  Those raw edges are nice and enclosed……no loose strings or edges.  Do the same thing with the other side…..attaching the other side pieces together with a nice french seam.  Iron both side seams open and flat.
Now turn the skirt section inside out and then fold over the top of the skirt section a 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch and sew into place.  Then fold the top down 1 1/2 inches and iron flat.
Then, turn it right side out and start making pleats along the front piece of the skirt.  Use pins to keep the pleats in place.  And keep the top edge of the fabric (where the fold is) lined up and even.
Here’s the top view of those pleats.
Here is the view from the back side.  Nice and neat.
You’re going to have to play around with the size of your pleats.  But by cutting out a piece of fabric that was 3 times as wide as the final width, that should give you enough fabric to play with and make the skirt kind of full.   Once the front section (from side seam to side seam) is the same width as your shirt, you’re done.
And once the front matches up, do the same to the back.
Then make a seam 3/4 of an inch from the top of the pleats…..securing all of the pleats in place.
Then pin the bottom section of the dress to the shirt, 2 inches from the bottom of the shirt (because earlier you made sure to keep an extra 2 inches to the length of the tshirt, right?)  Pin all the way around the shirt, attaching the pleated section to the shirt.
Then sew right on top of that seam, attaching the pleated section to the dress.
Now you’re going to make a tube that will be used for you tie.  The dress I made fits about a 4T size and I wanted the tie to be about 1 3/4 inches wide………..then ended up being about 73 inches long.  So I cut a piece of fabric that was 4 x 74 inches (and had to actually sew two pieces of fabric together to get a piece that was that long).  Then I made the tube just like this tutorial here.  Then I ironed it flat.
Next, I placed the center of the tie right on top of that seam that attached the pleat section to the shirt.
And I pinned the tie in place and sewed right along the top of the tie, very close to the edge.  I only sewed from one side seam of the dress to the other side seam.
Then I made sure the pleats were laying flat and pinned the bottom of the tie down to the dress.  Make sure to include the bottom of the shirt (that’s in the inside) while you pin, so that it will be included in your seam.
Then I sewed along the sides and the bottom of the tie, securing the tie to the dress.
Then I tucked in the raw edges of the ends of the ties towards the inside, about a 1/4 inch……..and sewed them shut.  Nice and simple. 

Lastly, I folded the bottom edge under a 1/2 inch and then another inch, sewed it in place, then ironed it flat.  (But make sure to try it on your little girl to see how long you’d like it…..then hem the dress.)

And that’s it.
A new look for that old wrecked Tshirt.
One that is perfect for hopping and dancing……
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Filed under Baby, Children, Clothing, Re-purposing, Sewing


152 Responses to “Re-Purposing: T-Shirt into Dress”
  1. 1
    CourtneyKeb says:

    I love this!!! I love everything about it.
    I love the precious little girl and the yellow fabric flowers in her hair.
    I love the pleats and the big yellow waist tie.
    I LOVE the fabric, and I love the tutorial!
    I'm so doing this!

  2. 2
    Heather says:

    I love this thanks for the great tutorial!!!

  3. 3
    ~*Jess*~ says:

    That is so cute! I really need to learn how to use (and buy) a sewing machine!

  4. 4
    Marjorie says:

    So cute! Absolutely loooove the umbrella fabric!

  5. 5
    Sew-Over-It says:

    Adorable! I love the pleated skirt, what a great combo with the yellow bow. Great job, your blog is awesome… learned a lot of great tips from you! Thanks! :)

  6. 6
    NatureGirl says:

    I am sooooo making a thousand of these!

  7. 7
    The Pollards says:

    I love all of your sewing tutorials! I just cut off the bottom half of some onesies that just don't fit right (you know the ones) and of course I hemmed them and they are just too short for my daughter to wear. Well she can wear them under a jumper of some sort. But anyway this will be a great solution. I am going to work on this ASAP.

  8. 8
    Melanie says:

    Really cute… and the Riley Blake fabric really makes it spring-time worthy!

  9. 9
    Ali says:

    I love this– so pretty- thanks so much for posting the tutorial!

  10. 10
    Alicia says:

    I'm making this for ME!

  11. 11
    Susan says:

    SOOO stinkin' cute!!

  12. 12
    Kathryn says:

    I can usually take or leave "t-shirt to dress" tutes but my gosh, this is so cute. Lovely!

  13. 13
    steffany says:

    I love this, I might even use a onesie since my sweet little one is still needing diaper covers. Thanks for sharing.

  14. 14
    Shir Benovich says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial – I think that even I can do it! I starred this post for future reference :-)

  15. 15
    Katie says:

    Okay. Awesome. And if that fabric doesn't make the cutest dress, I don't know what does. My Goose would go crazy for it!

  16. 16
    Leslie says:

    This is a very cute dress, great post & tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I just tweeted about it so hope it brings some other 'refashioners' your way. :-)

  17. 17
    Juli says:

    You are so talented! I love it!!

  18. 18
    Rebekah says:

    Absolute perfection!

  19. 19
    Beverly @ says:

    Oh I love it! And that fabric is To Die For. Thanks for letting us know what it is. Turned out super cute. (And perfect for twirling.) ;)

  20. 20
    Maria and Michelle says:

    Such a cute dress and the tutorial is so easy to follow! You have me wanting to get busy making some new dresses.


  21. 21
    Kristy says:

    Absolutely adorable!!!

  22. 22
    Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity says:

    Thank you so much for the French seam tutorial! I always hate to do the pinking shears thing with items that will be gifts (looks too homespun to me), so I'm very happy to learn about a new seam finishing technique!

  23. 23
    Liz says:

    What a pretty dress…love it! ~Liz

  24. 24
    Emily says:

    Fabulous! I can't wait to try it!!

  25. 25
    The six of us! says:

    What a great detail tutorial! Thank you for sharing your creativeness, no it time for me to get sewing!!!

  26. 26
    Suze says:

    That is SO cute!

    I just bought fabric to make a full-on dress out of a pattern, for my 2 girls and now I'm just going to make this! SO easy!!

    Thanks so much for all that you create!

  27. 27
    Shannon says:

    Can I say enough about this one?! NO! SOOO cute and I am so excited to do this for my little sweet girl! Thank you for doing a tutorial and yes, I too, LOVE the fabric! I loved your pillows too (the tie ones for you bed) and I made one too that I am in love with now! Thanks for sharing you fab talent!

  28. 28
    Cami says:

    Love it! My daughter has so many shirts I can try this out on. I can't wait! Thanks for this great idea

  29. 29
    [MONSTER] says:

    This is a seriously awesome idea. I'm gonna show it to my kid-by-proxy and see if we can throw together some cute summertime dresses for her.

  30. 30
    Marisa says:

    So cute …. my girl wore a shirt yesterday that would be so perfect for this! TFS!

    *Also wanted to let you know about my favorite notion for turning tubes. I found it at Joann in the notions section … didn't know it existed before then. It's a Dritz Turn-it-all. It works like magic!

  31. 31
    Vicky says:

    Adorable and perfect for a little princess! I'm definitely trying this one!!

  32. 32
    ellzabelle says:

    AMAZING!!!! I love pleats and this is the cutest. Definitely have a lot of stained shirts so will be trying this. And will be doing french seams for the first time! Thanks. Ellen

  33. 33
    CHER says:

    This is a beautiful dress! I can't wait to try it on my own!! My daughter has SO MANY stained shirts!! I knew there was a reason I couldn't bear to throw them away…

  34. 34
    Delia says:

    Clever and beautiful! Very, very nice!

  35. 35
    Jill says:

    How cute! Thanks for the lovely tutorial.

  36. 36
    Kyle and Amanda says:

    Hi Ashley
    Thanks for all of the great ideas from your blog- I love them. I was wondering if you could maybe help me. You see, we just finished re-staining our entertainment center and I am so excited to decorate. But, there is some kindof awkward space that I just don't know what to do with. I thought about candle sticks but they are just so darn expensive. I have posted some pictures on my blog. If you get a free second could you look? I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks so much

  37. 37
    Devon! says:

    oh my goodness! such an adorable idea. i LOVE her matching headband too! i just love the fabric! i will be doing this!

  38. 38
    Cheryl says:

    Really lovely & unique. That fabric is cute too. I know I wouldn't have the patience to make it so neat!

  39. 39
    Tere says:

    How cute! Thanks for sharing!

  40. 40
    Ticia says:

    I am so doing this with something, don't know what yet, but something.

  41. 41
    ~Katie~ says:

    Funny you posted this today, I was just going through Bri's shirts figuring out which one to make a dress out of! LOL Cute cute!

  42. 42
    Anderson says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  43. 43
    leardonsbelle says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thanks for this great tutorial. I can't wait to make one for my daughter! Perfect for summer!

  44. 44
    The Cottage Mama says:

    This is too cute and really pretty simple! Great idea and Riley Blake is always a great choice :-).


  45. 45
    Meet Virginia says:

    This is pretty much too cute for words! LOve iT!!!!


    Meet Virginia!
    Meet Virginia!
    Meet Virginia!

  46. 46
    Suzanne says:

    Absolutely adorable. The dress is darling too!

  47. 47
    Alisha @ Crafty Brooklyn Army Wife says:

    This is an adorable dress!!

    Please stop by my blog to pick up your award.

  48. 48
    Carlotta says:

    OMG I love this!!! I am so going to make this for my baby this weekend. Thanks for the tut, will send a pic once it's done.


  49. 49
    Aaron & Ashley Gilbert says:

    Cute Cute!

  50. 50
    Ali says:
    My daughter has been BEGGING me to make her a pink dress. I think this is the tute to do it with. Thank you!!

  51. 51
    Julie says:

    Wow, you make it look so easy. I love that umbrella fabric–it totally makes it.

  52. 52
    emily snyder says:

    i adore this too!! my sisters designed the fabrics and are LOVING seeing what people are doing with it!
    this idea is ADORABLE!!!
    thanks for using my wonderful sisters' fabric :)

    i have just become a devoted follower!

  53. 53
    Sonya says:

    This is super cute! I love the paper bag waist and the wide waist tie. Thanks for the tutorial.

  54. 54
    Liberty says:

    That is ADORABLE!!!! I Love it! I NEED a little girl, i don't think my 11 yr old son would like this! SO CUTE!!!! You are AMAZING!

  55. 55
    Katie says:

    This is adorable!

  56. 56
    Shawn says:

    So Cute!! Ok, so here I am in the middle of making a dress and wondering about the bottom seam of the dress… do I just fold it over 1/4" and another 1/4" then sew? Just wondering how to finish off the bottom! Thanks!

  57. 57
    bcrandall says:

    gave you an award love this dress


  58. 58
    Made With Bliss says:

    So adorable!! Thank you so much for sharing this…

  59. 59
    Eileen says:

    Oh…this is so lovely :D Too bad I don't have girls or nieces…

  60. 60
    Jessica says:

    I love that dress! Also, I love her hair accessory which complement on her outfit! Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. :)

  61. 61
    Baiba Vigule says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! The dress is awesome, and is perfect for your daughter as to other little girls. I think, I would make something similar for my daughter, she would love it.

    And thanks for showing us the french seem! :)

    With greetings form Latvia,

  62. 62
    Susan says:

    Should I admit that I've made these for myself in the past? What can I say – I don't have any daughters! This one is much cuter than mine were, though. And the model is adorable!

  63. 63
    The Lookhart Family says:

    making it today! i'm a little scared because i haven't done dresses before… but we will see!

  64. 64
    M.O.T.B says:

    Wow, these are great. Your blog has inspired me to have my mom teach me to sew!

  65. 65
    Terri Lindsay says:

    I love this idea. Would it work with a onesie, with out cutting off the bottom?? And still have the stretch to fit over the infants head?? And is there a Tutorial for that head band??

  66. 66
    Gillian says:

    I love this! Am going to get to work on it tomorrow. I just finished a dress from an Oliver + S pattern and am in the sewing for girls mood!

  67. 67
    B & W Neibaur says:

    Love this dress! Great gift idea for my cute niece!

  68. 68
    Molly @ The Creative Maven says:

    SO adorable! I want to make one for me! :)

  69. 69
    Angela Hansen says:

    I love it, it looks so simple, just like sewing a skirt. I would also love to know the details of the headband. I can make the flowers but what do you use for the headband?

  70. 70
    Andrea says:

    Oh, this is so much cuter and classier than the boring old gathered at the waist t-shirt dresses I've made. I've soooo got to try this! Thanks for giving me a reason to go thrift store shopping! :)

  71. 71
    Beth- the mama bee says:

    oh good grief, another dress we must have!

  72. 72
    Amber says:

    How are you making the tight fabric flowers in your daughter's hair? They are so adorable and I've looked through your tutorials and don't see that one. It looks similar to the flip-flops part 2 post, but much tighter, could you let me know you did these ones? Thank you!

  73. 73
    Ashley says:

    Shawn, I cut my fabric to include folding over a 1/2 inch and then another inch and then hemming in place. Thanks for mentioning that, I added it to the tutorial. But if you want to keep it longer, just do 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch. Perfect.

    Terri, if you were going to use a onesie, I would maybe stretch the onesie a bit while sewing…..otherwise, it may not fit over their head. I think you're right. And I think the pleats would cover any puckering from pulling the onesie as you're sewing. And then you can pull the tie as you tie it in the back in a bow. I would maybe practice on an old onesie first that you're not worried about ruining. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

    And Amber, yes those flowers are just like the flip-flop flowers. I was thinking about doing another tutorial on making the flowers with cotton…..just to show the little differences to anyone having a problem with them. Maybe that will help. Keep an eye out for that.

    And good luck…..I want to see how this turns out for you all!

  74. 74
    Smith Family says:

    Your little girl is by far the most beautifully dressed of many that I know! You have such cute ideas for repurposing! Great job!

  75. 75
    Laura says:

    This is brilliant. Thank you so much for the tute!

  76. 76
    Karin (the Mrs.) says:

    What a cute dress. I love that big sash, that yellow tie is gorgeous and she looks beautiful in it!

  77. 77
    The Bell Family says:

    This might be a crazy question, but is there a formula you use to figure out many pleats you are going to need? And, are the pleats facing in the same direction? I have never done a pleated dress before, but love this one! Can't wait to try it out! Thanks for your help!

  78. 78
    Erin says:

    I can't wait to make this! Thanks for your creativity and easy to follow tutorial.

  79. 79
    Ashley says:

    Bell Family – I didn't make them precise and perfect. I just started folding and did a quarter of the skirt at a time. Each pleat can be a little different from the next one, but you'll never be able to notice. But be sure to pin it first so that you can adjust if necessary.

  80. 80
    Wendy and Spencer says:

    Darling design Ashley!

  81. 81
    Joy says:

    wow! Thanks for sharing! I cannot wait to make this for my daughter!!! Super, super cute!!!

  82. 82
    Mikael Webb says:

    Love that fabric! My dear friend Rebecca and her sister designed it and I am always so proud each time I see it!

  83. 83
    Marjorie says:

    Hello, I have a blog that aims to identify all the tutorials that can be found on blogs. I put a link to your blog (and not the explanation) but I let you put your pictures? thank you and congratulations for your blog marjorie

  84. 84
    יעקב says:

    Love it. I'm going to try it this week. But I do have a question about the sewing- what kind of stitch do you use to sew down the pleats and bow? Doesn't it make it too tight/narrow to then pull over her head b/c it doesn't stretch like the t-shirt? (I'm making it for a tall 6 year old, if that makes a difference…) Thank you!

  85. 85
    Carlotta says:

    Love it, and made it. Have posted it on my blog if you want to see.Thanks so much for the tutorial.


  86. 86
    Ashley says:

    Good question about the stitch. I was using a shirt that was loose enough where I was attaching the skirt, that it didn't need to stretch any bigger to fit over her head. If it will make it too tight, you can try stretching the shirt a little bit as you sew and then tie-ing the tie will cinch it all back in. Hope that helps!


  87. 87
    Melissa Jenkins says:

    My mother-in-law used your pattern to make this dress for my twin girls and they are sooooo precious! You can see picture on my blog!

  88. 88
    trooppetrie says:

    thank you, thank you, this is the first day on your blog and I think I am addicted. This is going to be my weekend project

  89. 89
    SpaceyKasey says:

    I just found your wensite and I LOVE IT! Thank you for your posts and great tutorials.

    This repurpose is fabulous.

  90. 90
    Claudia says:

    You know, I saw this months ago and bookmarked it – I thought. And then I didn't! A google shirt with "dress t-shirt umbrella girl" brought you up, though, and I'm so glad. This is the most adorable dress and I will totally make this, now. Thank you!

  91. 91
    Sarah Burrell says:

    I just discovered this post (don't know how I missed it the first time) and I love it! I have the cutest little onesie that my 11 month old has grown out of in length, but not get in width (she's SUPER skinny). I can't wait to get started on this project!

  92. 92
    Corey~living and loving says:

    I am posting my attempt at this fabulous dress tonight. Thank you sooooo much for this tutorial.

  93. 93
    Lea zich says:

    LOVE IT!!! Love it love it. School starts here in a few weeks and I can't wait to make a couple of these (long sleeved too!) for my first grader!!!

  94. 94
    Isabel says:

    I saw this dress and I fell in love with it! I went to the store and got me some fabric and I finished the dress in one afternoon! I love it and my daughter and husband loved it too! Thank you so much for the easy instructions!!

  95. 95
    Super Mom says:

    Seriously though, I love this idea! I'm just not so crafty lol. Instead this inspired me to do something else. I'm taking one of MY old tank tops, going to sew in and up and attach some matching fabric I found around the house. And hopefully make a dress from that for my daughter! lol. Found this blog during boredom last night, and it's driving my husband nuts because now I have all these ideas for new projects hahahaha.


  96. 96
    Chambrae says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas!! I just finished this dress and the paper bag skirt to add to my 3 year old's preschool wardrobe. They both turned out BEAUTIFULLY!!! Not to mention that it only took me 4 hours to complete both of them. I added a fabric flower to the waistband of the dress and made it with long sleeves for fall. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  97. 97
    Wani says:

    I'm totally gonna make this for my baby girl!! Love it!

  98. 98
    Sandy (Your life, organized) says:

    This is so very cute! I can't wait to try it!!!
    Helping you store what matters most!

  99. 99
    AAmores Crafts&Stuff says:

    I love it! The fabric is sooo nice! I can't wait to make it !

  100. 100
    AAmores Crafts&Stuff says:

    I love it! Love the fabric,the model! I can't wait to make it! Thank you so much.