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Dress (or Top) with Braided Straps…from an Old Shirt

Every now and then, I like to share a loved post from the past.  Some are 3, 4, and even 5 years old (wow, has it been that long?)…..but are such fun projects to make.  I revive my old tutorials all the time for myself and pull up the instructions on how I made something, so I can make it again.  And even though some of you may remember this, many of you are new around here…….so today’s post, is an oldie but goodie!! 


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This post was originally posted HERE, on 7/29/2011.

Remember my last post? Where I talked about passing by clearance shirts at Wal-Mart and how I had to grab one to make a little dress with a braided collar for my baby girl? (Found here.) Well, the truth is, is that I bought 2 shirts. Both stripes. Both soft and light knit fabric. Both intended for summer dresses.

This dress is for my older daughter and is a bit different. But mostly the same.


And is completely made from a women’s size XXL jersey knit shirt (the bigger size you buy, the more fabric you get) from the stack of cheap-y knit Tshirts at Wal-Mart. Oh, and a bit of navy knit from my fabric scraps.

I love finding random knit fabric clothing, that will work perfectly for other projects.

It turned out to be a great little dress…..but could easily be used as a little top if you don’t have enough fabric for a dress. I originally was making this as a top and was going to put some little capri leggings on her.  And as she continues to grow like a weed, I probably will. Really soon.

From the side, you can see that the back piece is a bit shorter than the front…..

This just gives more room in the back for some criss-crossing detail.

It passes the comfy ‘play-dress’ test too. Important for 4-year-olds.

And yep, threw a tag on the side.

Thanks Little Missy. You are such a good sport. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of dressing up my “real” babies. Now I watch you dress your baby dolls every day, and wonder if you’re dreaming of doing the same thing.

Would you like to make your own dress/top with braided straps?

First of all, you’ll need to find a knit Tshirt (mine is jersey knit… it a bit more stretch) that you want to cut up.

However, you can always start from scratch and use some great knit fabric from your fabric stash. But if you use an old Tshirt, you can use the bottom hem of the shirt as the bottom hem of your dress. Nice and easy.

***These Tshirts I have been using are the softer, stretchier Tshirts that are usually made for women. You know, the knits shirts that are usually more fitted and snug. A regular old Tshirt (like you would get if you were playing on the city league softball team or something) are a bit stiffer and will still work. But they aren’t as stretchy and semi-flowy and cozy. So I really like using these stretchy jersey knits shirts best for re-purposing. Jersey knit stretches more and is a bit softer. And when you cut a strip of it (along the stretch of the fabric) and then pull it at each end, it will stretch out a bit and curl along each long edge. A regular old Tshirt won’t stretch and curl the same way. Now, go run your hands along the shirts in your closets and drawers and you’ll see what I mean.

I made this dress the same way as this tutorial…….except I didn’t make a curve along the top neckline of the dress. I cut the fabric straight off. And I made sure that I was cutting the dress pieces wide enough, so that I could gather the fabric to create a bit of fullness to the dress. But the curve of the armholes are just the same.

And I gathered in the top, just like the post mentioned above…….but it ends up a straight line at the top, rather than a curved one.

The other thing I did differently, was that after sewing the 2 dresses together at the sides, I cut off about 2 inches (this will vary depending on what size you’re making) off the top of the back piece. But I gathered and finished it off the same way.

If you look at the dress from the side, the front (on the right) is definitely taller than the back section (on the left).

And then, rather than creating a 5 strand braided collar, I just made four long 3-strand braids out of some knit in my fabric stash. I made sure that I cut the knit fabric along the stretch, so that my braids would stretch just a bit.

Then I attached the four braids to the front (the taller section) of the dress……..two on each side. And slightly separated. I placed the raw ends of the braids on the inside of the dress and secured them in place with 2 seams.

Then, I turned the dress over and attached the outside straps like normal (measure on your girl/granddaughter/niece to make the straps the right length). But then crossed the two inner straps in the back, before securing them in place. And they are attached at a bit of an angle. (This view is with the dress turned inside out.)

Then I slipped it over her head.


And she was happy as can be.



Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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