T-Shirt Dress

Project Creator: Corrie Sebire
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: INTERMEDIATE

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The great thing about this sweet little dress is that there are no pattern pieces. You can use a new t-shirt or one that is already in the wardrobe. I have included sizes 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 but just add more length for larger sizes.

The dress in the photos was made using a size 5 long sleeve t-shirt for my daughter who is on the smaller size of size 4-5 but we’ll get lots of wear out of this. Finished length of the dress from shoulder to hem is 24 inches.

Tools

> Thread, pins, ruler, tape measure, scissors
> Sewing machine (I used my Brother DreamWeaver for this project)

Materials Required

> 1 T-shirt (short or long sleeved)
> 0.50m (20 inches) cotton fabric (at least 112cm/43 inches wide)

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> Grosgrain ribbon at least 4cms/1.5 inches wide or ribbon of your choice (look for something wide as it looks more like a waistband and makes a more generous bow on the back of the dress)

Step 1:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 1

Take your t-shirt and we are going to cut it in half. For size 2-3 cut across the t-shirt 10cms (4 inches) down from the underarms of the t-shirt. For size 4-5 cut 13cms (5 inches) under from the underarms. For size 6-7 cut 15cms (6 inches). If you have a taller child then add ½ inch but remember that the ribbon is going to be the waistband from the bottom of the edge of the t-shirt so don’t worry if you think it is too big. I did this using my cutting mat which gave me a neat line across the t-shirt.

Step 2:

The length of the dress will depend on whether you want a dress above the knee or more of a ¾ length or you could even have it to the floor for the ultimate princess dress. It’s up to you. A standard length for all of the sizes to work with is 20 inches (50cm) and then you can shorten from there.

Step 3:

For the smaller sizes of this pattern (2-3 and 4-5) we are just going to use the width of the fabric for the skirt. But for a fuller skirt or the larger size (6-7) you might like to cut out 2 pieces for the skirt – one front, one back. So measure with a tape measure the circumference of the bottom of the t-shirt. Multiply it by 2 and that’s the width of fabric you want for your skirt (before gathering). To cut out the front and back piece each piece will be the circumference of the t-shirt wide and about 20 inches (50cms long)

Step 4:

Now trim selvages off the fabric. With right sides together join the side fabric edges to create a seam for the skirt part of the dress. Overlock/zig zag your edges.

Step 5:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 2

To gather your skirt, set your sewing machine stitch length to the longest setting. On my machine that is a 5. You are going to sew 2 parallel lines near the top of the skirt that we will gather. I stitch one line with needle in the needle left position and the next line of stitches is inside that line and I do that with my needle in the needle centre position.

Step 6:

Using the underneath threads (that came from your bobbin), take 2 threads at the start or end of my stitching and knot them together to secure the end of the gathering stitches. Take the other 2 threads and pull on them gently and evenly distribute the gathering as you go around the skirt. Try to make it as even as possible as you go around.

Step 7:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 3

Now we will attach the skirt to our t-shirt. I do this with the right side of the skirt with the gathered edge and pin the side seam of the skirt to the side seam of the t-shirt. Pin the opposite side of the skirt to the other seam on the t-shirt. Your t-shirt will be inside the skirt as you are pinning around and you want to match raw edges (of the t-shirt and the fabric skirt).

Step 8:

Even up the gathers as you go so that it looks even (no bits look more gathered than others). Some people measure but I just do it by looking at it. And now making sure that you have reset your stitch length back to the usual length, you are going to sew all the way around so that the t-shirt is attached to the fabric skirt.

Step 9:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 4

With an unpicker or a pin, unpick all the gathering stitches being careful not to pull on your t-shirt or fabric and pull the fabric.

Step 10:

Now hem the skirt piece. Pop the dress on your model and work out the length of dress you would like. For the dress pictured which is ¾ length we used 17 inches. For the 2-3 you might like to have a length of about 13-14 inches, for the 4-5 about 15-17 inches and for the 6-7 a length between 18-20 inches. These lengths include the allowance for the hem. If you don’t have the girl you are making the dress for handy ask the mum to measure their favourite dress from shoulder to the bottom edge and use that as your guide for the finished length of the dress and then remember to add in an inch for the hem of the dress.

Step 11:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 5

To hem the dress I like to do this by folding over by at least ½ inch all the way around the bottom of the skirt with my iron. Then fold over again and press. Take to your machine and sew the whole way around.

Step 12:

The ribbon now goes over the dress and is a great way to hide any seams. Take your piece of ribbon and find the centre of the length and pin the bottom of the ribbon at that centre point just below the part of the dress where the t-shirt and dress meets. The bottom of the ribbon will be on the fabric skirt and most of the ribbon is on the t-shirt. You are going to pin the ribbon around the front of the t-shirt – stop at the side seams.

Step 13:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 6

I sew a very neat line of stitches just a mm or two in from the bottom edge of the ribbon and repeat with the top of the ribbon as shown in the photo to the left. Stitch a line on the ribbon at the side seams so that the ribbon is secure to the t-shirt at the side seams. The ends of the ribbon are tied into a bow at the back of the dress once worn and you can trim the ribbon if you’d like shorter ends on the bow. It’s up to you.

Step 14:

Even up the gathers as you go so that it looks even (no bits look more gathered than others). Some people measure but I just do it by looking at it. And now making sure that you have reset your stitch length back to the usual length, you are going to sew all the way around so that the t-shirt is attached to the fabric skirt.

Step 15:

retro mummy - T-Shirt Dress 7

Your dress is done. You can even embellish the t-shirt if you like with a little flower, badge or applique or just leave plain. You can even sew on a pearl necklace on to the t-shirt or some jewels for something special.