Adult T-shirt to Little Girl’s Dress {Tutorial}

It’s Thrifty to Nifty time with Jenn from A Jennuine Life.  Today I have a great simple t-shirt refashion project to share with you.

T-shirt Refashion into toddler dress

Everyone has their favorite t-shirt right?  Well, don’t you hate it when you get a stain on that shirt, or it just doesn’t fit properly anymore?  This fun t-shirt of mine is near and dear to me for many reasons: I purchased it in Washington DC while visiting nearby Baltimore to run the half marathon while pregnant with my older daughter Arden (pictured).  It’s also from the International Spy Museum, and my brother Jeff worked on one of the displays and on the installation as part of his job as a craftsman.  It’s a lightweight knit, and it was also really long so it worked perfectly as a maternity tee and wasn’t too short after baby was born.

Perfect T-shirt trifecta: 1. Sentimental 2. Cute 3. Comfy.  Unfortunately, it developed a case of underarm stain and no amount of stain treatment remedied the situation.  What to do?  Refashion it into a still-sentimental, cute, and comfy t-shirt dress for Arden!

If you have access to a sewing machine and basic sewing skills you can do this easy refashion – here’s how:

 Find a knit dress to serve as your pattern.  This drop-waisted tank dress worked perfectly with the length of the target t-shirt.


* Measure the length of the gathered skirt portion, adding extra for seam allowance for the top, but not the bottom since you’ll use the finished hem of your target t-shirt.  Cut off the bottom of the shirt and set aside.

* Carefully fold both the shirt and the dress in half.  Smooth out all seams and line up the folded edges.  Carefully trace about 1/2″ from the dress and cut through all four layers of the t-shirt, or if you’re really confident whip out your rotary cutter and go for it!

* Since the front neckline dips lower than the back, now fold just the front of the t-shirt in half and trim it lower to match the dress.

* With right sides together, sew the front to the back at the shoulders and sides.  You’ll want to use a stretch stitch like a zig-zag or my machine has a triple stretch stitch which looks like a lightening bolt.  If you use a straight stitch you’ll risk popping seams, especially at the neck hole.  Try not to stretch the fabric as you sew; gently feed it under the presser foot so the feed dog doesn’t pull it.  With knits, you don’t need to worry about finishing the edges, but you can zig-zag, overcast, or serge the edges if you like.
* Gather the bottom piece by sewing a line or two with the longest stitch length and gently pulling the bobbin strings.  I had a very slight gather in my version.  With right sides together and matching side seams, pin raw edges together and sew.
* For the collar, I re-used the original collar by cutting very closely to the shirt edge.  Measure the neckline of your new dress.  Make a tube matching this measurement.  With right sides together, pin raw edges together and sew.
* You can leave the collar as is, or you can sew the seam allowance down by top stitching about 1/8″ from the seam.  This looks like a straight stitch, but it is a stretch stitch.
* For the armholes, just turn about 1/4″ to the backside and stitch the fabric down.
Find the owner of her new favorite t-shirt dress and let her take it for a test run!

If you’re interested in the more “fiddly” side of sewing, check out the series I’m hosting now – The Lost Arts of Sewing.  I’ve got a great lineup of guests sharing their favorite techniques.

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  1. I love this I’m going to make one of these for my daughter, just pinned it to my list of to dos. Great tutorial.

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