Home » Featured » Re-purposing: Dress into Shirt {with elastic waist}

Re-purposing: Dress into Shirt {with elastic waist}

I’ve been cleaning out the winter wardrobe.
Out with the old, in with the new, right???
But instead of storing/donating the old items……you I know I love to turn them into something new, rather than buying something new.
This little top is nothing fancy……but I turned an old long sleeved knit dress, that was now too short for comfort, into an elastic waist-ed shirt……with cuffed 1/2 sleeves.
A quick and easy transformation…….that is still nice and comfy too.
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See that thumbs up?  She approves.
(Ha….totally a coincidence.)
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A great way to extend the life of a long sleeved dress from last season.
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She’ll keep it.
Would you like to make an easy transformation to an old dress?

Here’s how the dress looked before.  Straight shaped knit dress, with long sleeves.  (Flowers were already attached.)  I cut off a few inches from the bottom (making sure to leave enough for the hem) and cut off the cuffs from the sleeves.
Then, I hemmed under the bottom with 2 seams, to give it a more clean look and to secure the hem in place.
(Sewing with knit hint: I increased my seam allowance here and that really helped with the pulling that occurs with sewing with knit sometimes.)
Then I folded under the bottom of the sleeves up into the shirt several inches…..and hemmed it in place with 2 stitches as well.
Then I cuffed the sleeves and placed a few stitches (hand-sewn) along the under side of the sleeve, near the side seam…….to help keep the sleeve cuffed.
Then I cut about an inch strip from the leftovers of the bottom of the skirt leftovers………..
And then pinned it to the inside of the shirt, where I wanted the elastic waist to be. (You may need to try the shirt on your subject, and measure where you’d like to waist to hit.)
Then sew all the way around the strip, then all the way around the bottom of the strip, leaving a small 2 inch opening along the bottom.
Then cut a piece of 1/2 inch wide elastic that is slightly bigger than your subjects waist.  I didn’t want the waist to be tight and ride up all the time…….but wanted it cinched in enough to gather in at the waist.  Then thread in the elastic.
And then sew the two ends together with a few stitches.  Then work the elastic in the rest of the way and then sew up the rest of the elastic casing.
Then turn right side out and admire your work.
Oh yeah, then slip in on you, your little girl…….or whoever you made it for.
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Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner 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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  1. Phoenix says:

    This is the perfect idea!!! I was making my daughter some slippers an oops forgot the elastic, and you provided the solution!!! Thank you!!!!

  2. jessica says:

    i’ve been trying to figure out how to put an elastic casing in a dress without a lining for waaaay to long! just this morning i tossed a dress back into my mending pile because i couldn’t figure it out (obviously i’m not that great of a sewer) so THANKS so much for the help!!

  3. Jody says:

    LOVE the new look!!!!! Great job!

  4. Christina says:

    Love the new blog design!

  5. Lindsey says:

    This is exactly what I have been looking for! My daughter recently received a t-shirt dress as a gift but when worn it tends to look like a night gown (It's pretty baggy). She of course loves it :) This is the perfect thing to turn it into and still have her (and I) enjoy it! Thank you!

  6. : ) Paula says:

    I've been kind of annoyed with all of the huge poofy flower bows moms put in their kids' hair, so I was surprised enough to click "comment" when I (barely) spotted the brown bow in your daughter's hair in these aqua shirt photos.

    I absolutely adore the subtle beauty, Ashley, did you make it?

  7. Nate and Lori says:

    random question: i love the fonts you used for "look: my old dress still fits"
    can I get their names?
    thanks! I'm a fontaholic :)

  8. Attempting Aloha says:

    I am SOOO going to do this! Amazing!!


  9. Pam says:

    I wish I still had little kids so I could do stuff like this! So cute and so much fun to repurpose clothes.

  10. J A C Q U E L I N E says:

    Love it ashley! Now I just need to convince the husband that we should keep our kids clothes they outgrow that are still super cute.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Wow! I love it! I just got a sewing machine – but this may be just a little bit out of my league — for now!

  12. Ashley says:

    Hey Annette…..yeah, I have a double needle, I just don't usually have enough thread spools in the color I need. Ha….never prepared! It always looks nicer though. I should wind up another bobbin and just use that. And I bet most don't know how to use one……so maybe I should share that on here too, because you're right, it is a lot of fun to do. Thanks for the idea…..and the nudge to get mine out more often!! :)

  13. Lynette @ My Craft Discovery says:

    That turned out super cute! Have you ever tried sewing with a double needle to get that finished store-bought look on your hems? I noticed you sewed two lines, but a double needle will do the same thing with only one seam. They are fun and easy to use too! Favorite thing about sewing clothes is using my double needle!

  14. amyarguello1 says:

    This is such a great idea. Very cute top.

  15. Sarah - the ARMYWIFE says:

    Wow, this looks much easier than I had imagined!! Thanks for your awesome tut, as always!

  16. marisa says:

    This is great! Off to try it!

  17. Beth Tunnell says:

    I love the sleeves!

  18. Naz (Make It, Bake It, Create It) says:

    You are so creative and your instructions are so simple & easy to understand! Thanks so much for all the work you put into your blog – its much appreciated!

  19. tomiannie says:

    This is adorable, and your instructions made it look so easy! I can't wait to try it!

  20. Dorothee-Maria Lotufo says:

    Love this! ….as everything you create and kindly share with us! Thank you!!!!!! :)

  21. kabukikreations says:

    what a great idea! i am so going to try this!

  22. Ashley says:

    great idea:) I Love love love it!!!

  23. Lynne says:

    I love this refashion! Beautiful work!

  24. Jeremy, Lana, Brenna and Mason says:

    I love it! I have been on a repurposing spurt lately, and using all of your tutorials! You can see the ones I've done so far, I put your repurposing tutorial site on my blog!

  25. Audrey says:

    So simple, but so awesome!! I will definitely save this idea for a little girl (or friend) someday! Any little boy repurposing in the near future? I wish it was as easy to repurpose/embellish clothing for boys as it is for girls!

  26. Ms. S says:

    So cute!

  27. etta says:

    That's a cute idea! I've done that a few times for myself. I'll find end-of-season bargains on dresses that are otherwise unflattering on me and turn them into tunic-length shirts.

  28. Jenny says:

    Love it! Thanks for sharing all your great ideas, I love seeing what you come up with each time. I just followed your tutorial for the jean Bermuda shorts and they turned out super cute. I'm a beginner w-th sewing but I still did it, yay.

  29. Lindsay says:

    I love it! I have a spaghetti strap dress that is knit and too short. Maybe I can repurpose my dress! :) Thanks for the inspiration!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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