T-shirt dress

We love re-purposing. What's more fun than making a whole new outfit from an old one?! Usually the honor goes to my old clothes that get converted to some form of the girls' outfits. But this time, we added a new element to one of Big Sister's t-shirts and made a t-shirt dress.

I found this long strip of fabric while rummaging through my scrap box. This a leftover piece from a dance costume I made a couple of years back. The dimension was perfect to be added on as a low skirt....so that's what we did.

Read on for my step-by-step on making this t-shirt dress....

She has a number of full sleeve t-shirts from last winter that she has slightly outgrown lengthwise. Of course I can save it for when Little One catches up in size....or I can make something fun out of a boring black t-shirt!

The scrap fabric I had was long and not so wide.  If you want to make this, make sure the length is at least 1.5 times the length of the bottom hemline on the t-shirt. (remember to x2 the width of the t-shirt's bottom hemline to get the total length of the hemline)

The width of the fabric determines the height of the skirt. Wider the piece, longer the skirt. The t-shirt I had measured 24" around the bottom. The fabric I had was a little more than 1.5 times that. I cut out a few inches to use later.

There are 2 ways you can attach the skirt to the t-shirt depending on the material of the skirt fabric.

  • If it is knit fabric, you can gather along the length and attach it to the t-shirt using a zig-zag stitch or a straight stitch for knits. (these 2 types of stitches maintain the elasticity of the t-shirt so it can still be worn just as easily)
  • If the skirt fabric is cotton or poly with no stretch, you can follow the method I used here. (Although, I am going confuse you just a little bit by mentioning that I did use knit fabric but went with this method anyway, just because  I have been wanting to try this for a while...)

You need a strip of 1/4" or less wide elastic that is just as long as the bottom hemline. So my elastic measured 24" long and 1/4" wide.

Now on both the skirt fabric and the elastic I marked the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 points along the length.

First match the halfway points of the elastic and the fabric. Press the needle into that point.

With your right hand, hold together the 1/4 points of the fabric and the elastic. The elastic will have to stretch. Before you start stitching now, with your left hand, hold on to the elastic behind the presser foot and pull backwards lightly. Now start stitching. You will notice the pull of the elastic in front of the presser foot might prevent the feed dogs from feeding the combo through. That is why you apply a little pull from behind to get the stitches along. Continue stitching to the end.

Finish the other half of the length likewise, starting at the halfway point and aligning the 3/4 points together.

You should have an elastic gathered fabric like this.

Bring the good sides together and stitch along the width to make a tube.

Now, to attach the skirt to the t-shirt. You can cut along the bottom hem of the t-shirt and expose the raw edge. (I did not cut the hemline on our t-shirt because it was not as bulky as a double fold, just a zig-zagged or serged finish)

Place the tube skirt around the t-shirt, the edges aligned and good sides facing each other.

Stitch them together using a small zig-zag stitch or a straight stitch for knits. (It is kind of like a zig-zag stitch that changed its mind and wants to go straight.) #03 on my machine.

Finish the bottom hem on the skirt. (I did not do that. My fabric was knit and I don't HAVE to finish it!)

We then proceeded to chop off the sleeves and finish the edges.

After all this, I had just a little bit of fabric left to add a little accent to the bodice.

After cutting out the heart (ouch!), I ironed on fusible interfacing to both the heart (as it was knit), and the inside of the front of the t-shirt. (behind where I wanted the heart to be.) I did this so that when I stitch on the applique to the t-shirt, it would not stretch and scrunch up.

And there! A designer outfit from a $3 Walmart  t-shirt! We paired it with a legging and she's off! (Legging tutorial here....[link])


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