Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing: Clothing » Baby Clothing » Re-purposing: Long Sleeved Tee into Ruffled Dress

Re-purposing: Long Sleeved Tee into Ruffled Dress

I bought my little girl several long sleeved Tees at Children’s Place a while ago.  But when I pulled them out of her drawer to put them on her, they looked so boring.  I know, I know…….just leave things alone Ashley.  I just can’t help myself.  I should just leave some things be, but I tend to want to add a little more color, a little more texture, a little more frill.  
It’s not my fault.
It’s the shirt’s fault.  You know, for being so boring.
So this great yellow Tee, is no longer a yellow Tee. 
It’s now a little ruffled bottom dress.
Transforming a t-shirt into a dress by adding a few ruffles, sure makes a girl happy herself right up.
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 And of course, the dress still allows hopping, jumping, and all sorts of kid friendly energy.

But this project really scratched that itch of wanting to change up that plain yellow tshirt.  Done.
Would you like to make your own?
This t-shirt is a 4T and here are the measurements that I used to make mine.
(But depending on the shirt you start out with, all measurements will vary.)
The yellow shirt was 13 inches across the bottom, so 26 inches all the way around.  I tried the shirt on my little girl and decided that I wanted the shirt to extend 6 more inches, to just about reach her knees. 
So I first needed a lining piece (I used that white jersey knit) where I would attach all of the layers of ruffles…..and then attach the whole thing to the bottom of the shirt.  So I made it the same width of the shirt with an extra inch for a seam allowance and then made it 6 inches tall, though after sewing it to the shirt it wouldn’t actually extend the full 6 inches below the shirt.  But that’s okay, the ruffles will. 
Then, I knew that I needed each ruffle to poke out 2 inches, to give that 6 inches of combined length to the shirt.  So I cut each of the 3 strips, 4 x 53 inches and hemmed under the bottom by folding the bottom edge under a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, then sewing it into place.  (I got 53 inches by doubling the length of the bottom of the shirt and adding an inch for a seam allowance.)  So now each ruffle is 3.5 inches tall, allowing 2 inches to be shown and 1.5 inches for overlap beneath the layer above it.  (You can zig-zag the top raw edge of each strip or leave it alone if it’s knit because that won’t fray.)
(And the floral layers of mine are actually some sort of sheer rayon.  I’m not really sure what it is.  But it’s really flow-y and sheer…..and was some sale remnant I bought.  So you can experiment with different types of fabrics…….this isn’t just for knits.)
Next, sew each strip into a large circle by sewing the ends together, with right sides together, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Then, make a basting stitch along the top of each strip, a 1/4 inch from the top.  (Need help with gathering?  Click here.)  Then gather each ruffle in until it’s the same width as your lining tube.  Attach each ruffle to the lining, using pins to keep them in place.  Allow the bottom ruffle to overlap the bottom of the lining by about an inch.
Space each of the ruffles on the lining, using pins to attach them all.  Be sure that this ruffle section is 6 inches tall (or however tall you’re needing it) plus another inch at the top so that you can attach it to the shirt.
Sew all of the layers into place, sewing right on top of that basting stitch.
(**Hint: I steamed/lightly ironed over the top of the ruffle section, forcing the ruffles to lay down a bit.  But don’t press them completely flat or they will lose their flouncy shape.)

Then pin the ruffle section right to the shirt, overlapping the shirt over the ruffles by about an inch.  Measure as you go to be sure that it’s the length you want it and that it’s an even length all the way around.
Then sew the 2 pieces together, using 2 seams to really secure them together.
(**Hint: Increase your stitch length while sewing these seams, so that it doesn’t stretch the fabric while sewing.  Then steam/iron over top to flatten it down and eliminate any bumps from sewing.)

And that’s it.
A new little dress for your little girl to flounce around in.

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 my 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. short url says:

    Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my wweb site so i got here too return the favor?.I’m trying to to
    find issues to enhance my web site!Isuppose its adequate to use
    a ffew of your ideas!!

  2. Erin says:

    Love this project! Turned out awesome. Here is a photo at this link. Thanks

  3. mutuelle complémentaire santé says:

    J’apprécie la façon dont vous abordez ce sujet. J’ai vraiment apprecié de lire cette article. Continuez !

  4. m eastland says:

    I couldn’t tell what you did with the t-shirt hem. Did you sew over it or take it out and then attach the ruffles and then top stitch making another hem ?
    m eastlnd

  5. Rebecca says:

    Finally got around to this after admiring the tutorial for ages I’m a real beginner so I used an old skirt and refashioned with your fab tutorial to help. Many thanks from Gloucestershire UK. Now let’s hope the little tinker will wear it!

  6. Jacquie@KCEdventures says:

    Well, now that’s just adorable! And my daughter just loves ruffles too – thanks for such a great tutorial!

  7. Em says:

    I don’t know what I googled now to find this page, but sure glad I did, what fantastic ideas for a crafty Mum wanting to dress her little angel. :o) I can re-purpose my sons plain tees into pretty girly ones for her.

  8. Em says:

    I don’t know what I googled now to find this page, but sure glad I did, what fantastic ideas for a crafty Mum wanting to dress her little angel. :o)

  9. kate says:

    Thanks for this!! You saved a cute T shirt that never fit my daughter right

  10. Tahera says:

    I chanced upon your blog recently and am a Big Big fan of your creations! Tried this one recently and it turned out so amazing!! I always wondered how i could re-purpose my daughters tee’s and you were the answer!!! Also, the measurements you mentioned here are exactly that of my daughters, so it was much more easier for me. Thanks a ton….

  11. vikki says:

    I love it. Now I need to do that for my granddaughters. Thanks for the great tutorial.


  12. cara says:

    Can I just say *you’re amazing!* I started subscribing to your RSS feed ages ago, but finally started learning how to use my machine in just the last couple of months. We’ve got a family reunion coming up, and my daughter + my cousin’s daughter are just 2 months apart — so my cousin + I agreed to do matching outfits for the girl (she does one day, I do a second day!). I wanted to do slightly different outfits, so I bought her daughter a tee + a skirt, and bought the same tee for my daughter, thinking I could add ruffles to the bottom. I tried to wing, and then took to the internet before actually committing to sewing the ruffles on — And I thought about searching your archives but I thought maybe google would be faster. WHY DID I NOT GO WITH MY GUT? Well, after sifting through several tutes, up popped yours on google :D — next time, i will begin my search for all things cute with a sewing machine HERE :) Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Jennifer Dorman says:

    freaking awesome! I am so going t o give this a try! thanks girl!

  14. pat eads says:

    Love this idea! My three little granddaughters will be getting some of these. For summer I will be using tank tops! I saw a pattern for tulip petal sun hats. I think they will be getting matching hats, too!

  15. erin says:

    JUST finished two of these for each of my girls!! too simple and super-duper cute. and i just got my sewing machine last christmas, so i am no expert!

  16. Leigh Ann says:

    I made something like this here – I’d like to copy your Valentine dress. If I do, I’ll give you a shout out.

  17. Emily says:

    Love it! I have made 2 so far. This is my favorite! I love it, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

    Using 4 of your tutorials/tips (This one, Short-sleeved shirt into long-sleeved, baby leggings, and tips for applique) I was able to put together an adorable 1st birthday outfit for my little girl (And it only cost me $3.50!!!)


  18. Michelle says:

    You have given me new inspiration. I love your website. Thank you for sharing all you great ideas!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I love this idea! I want to make it thanks! :)

  20. Chelsea j. says:

    Omg LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! My 8 year old is so picky with clothes, and I bet she wohld just LOVE to help me pick out some fabric and a shirt to make her her own! Thanks for sharing!

  21. rosane says:

    Lindo! We lov you…
    from Brasil

  22. Laura@art4littlehands says:

    That is fabulous! So glad I stumbled on this. Just wish I was not so scared of sewing.

  23. Sew Flippin Cool says:

    You inspired me! Well…you and your orange shirt! :) Check out my first attempt at working with knit and doing my first repurpose here –

    Any advice? Tips? Thanks!

  24. Dena says:

    Here's my attempt. Pretty sure I need some tips on sewing with knits. It's pretty sloppy, but she'll still be wearing it!



  25. mommy2munchkins says:

    Such a cute tutorial. I just whipped one up for my daughter and it turned out really cute! I added it to the flicker pool :)

  26. Tracy Kosofsky says:

    LOVE this Ashley!!! You totally inspired me to make my own:

  27. Jenny! says:

    My 10 month old has a similar shirt but WITH ruffles of the same material on the chest…too cute right?

    Well would adding the ruffles be too much?

  28. Geek+Nerd says:

    A-DORABLE! I want a big-girl version!

  29. The Art of Family says:

    I'm not a fan of long sleeved boring tees either – but this has me swooning AND exactly what I need to convince my 4yr old girl to wear this fall/winter. It's 50 degrees now, and she refuses anything past her elbows… LOVE this – thanks so much for the how-to's!

    Now I'm going to back to the recycle bin and look for those Children's Place coupons I've been getting!

  30. East Coast-er Momma says:

    I've been wanting to do this for a while! Thank you for such thorough instructions…

  31. Rachel says:

    love it! I hate having my 3year old in jeans for playtime, they seem so restricting! Dresses are a bit too long, a t-shirt with leggings is fine for gymnastics but I don't like her hiney out for the world to see for everyday! This is the perfect solution!

  32. Jodi says:

    OMG…this is amazing. My little girl only want to wear dresses right now and it is abour 20 degrees were we live this time of year. She has a birthday 6 days before christmas and these will be prefect. And she is a 4T also so you have done all of the figuring for me ;) THANK YOU so much for all of your wonderful ideas!!!

  33. Denay W says:

    I LOVE IT! I am going to make one for my daughter tonight. And then one for each of my nieces!

  34. Swagata Chowdhury says:

    Fantastic idea n choice of colors…Thanks for the tutorials..I will definitely try it out…..

  35. Jessica says:

    This is such a cute dress! I love that you used a plain tshirt and then added the ruffles on the bottom. I must try this out!

  36. Amanda says:

    I've got a new blog and your dress is my first feature! I'd love for you to stop by and grab a button!

  37. Lori says:

    A t-shirt is nice. A cute ruffled t-shirt dress is nicer. Beautiful colors. Very wearable, just like a t-shirt only better.

  38. Jessica Michelle Designs says:

    I love everything about your website. I have so many of your projects tabbed to get to one day. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Kelli says:

    What a fabulous idea!

  40. Susannah says:

    that's amazing! And the yellow color was great for a fun dress!

  41. Allison says:

    I have made a few ruffle dresses–but this is a great twist! Would you consider linking this over at Tell Me Tuesday on Vintage Pollyanna? I'd love to have you!

  42. Delia says:

    So pretty. I think I want one for myself…may be a trick but I might give it a go! Thanks for the inspiration!

  43. Laura of Harvest Lane says:

    I really like this tutorial.

  44. the hatch batch says:

    So cute. I have seen a pattern that is basically the same thing but they used a yo-yo maker and the ruffle fabrics and then placed (I think)5 of them along/under the neckline with buttons sewn in the middle. Very cute and jazzes up the shirt part too!

  45. Angie says:

    This is darling!

    1. Anonymous says:

      it really is! :)

  46. Mimi's Toes says:

    I love this idea! I wish I loved to sew. Very cute model!

  47. Adventures In Babywearing says:



  48. Emilee says:

    You are simply amazing! Could you teach us how to take photos as well? I love the one of her in mid air and she is the one in focus.

  49. nannergirl says:

    I LOVE this! I'm off to dig around in the kids' drawers to see if I can find some tops to do this with. Thanks for the neat tutorial.

  50. barneyn says:

    this is amazing! will have to try it for sure!

  51. Caroline @ Atelier Caroline says:

    So my 4-year old daughter announced that she wanted a dress just like this when she saw the pictures… I agree.. it's just so cute and looks pretty easy.

  52. laura jones says:

    Ashley, I bet your kid is the best dressed kid in school! Also! congratulations on the little bun in the oven!! YAY!!!

  53. Sarah says:

    Way cute!

  54. Sarah @ Fiddledeedee says:

    LOVE it! I have been looking for something just like this! Thanks :)

  55. me says:

    I bought two remnant pieces of that exact same floral at Hancock last week for 75% off! I'd figured I would have to wait until summer to do anything with it, but now I think I'll use a bit to try making your project. So cute!

  56. Mindy says:

    Way adorable. I think I'll have to try this out.

  57. AngelaM says:

    Love iT!

    Where did you find those cute stripped leggings?

  58. sisters4saymoreismore says:

    totally adorable!! my girls would die to wear that little ruffled dress! and you make it look simple!

    thanks for the tutorial!


  59. bethanndodd says:

    I don't think I could get one of my boys to wear this ;) If only I had a girl!!! Very cute!

  60. Weddings With The Cricut says:

    Oh my gosh SO CUTE!!!

  61. Denise says:

    This looks so pretty, have you tried it with an adult T? I wear long sleeve T's all winter long, wonder if I could add a few frills to my own and jazz them up a bit?

    1. Becky Hull says:

      I’ve made dozens of these for grown up girls. My daughter wanted one for every girl in her sorority at TCU! They were adorable.

  62. Laurie Anne says:

    So perfect with leggings! What a great re-vamp! Thank you for such a great tutorial.

    By the way, your model is precious :)

  63. Emily says:

    very cute, I always wondered how they do the layered ruffled dresses that you see. This makes it seem easy, I think. I'll wait to hear from Marisa on how easy this one was to pull off, lol.

  64. Gabby says:

    I love it!

  65. marisa says:

    oh my goodness that combo is too cute! I cannot wait to try this!! My daughter is in a 4T so this will be easy..I hope

  66. Christy, says:

    i've missed tons of posts! How did I do that? Oh yeah we had a baby thursday, lol. I absolutely love this dress and will be making some for this winter.

    Dresses, tights, and boots are about the cutest things little girls can be in!

  67. Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife says:

    This is soo cute! If only I had a daughter…I don't think either of my sons would appreciate a ruffle dress. Oh well…one day! haha!

  68. Rebekah says:

    That combination of yellow and gray works every time! Love it!

  69. Kristen says:

    I really love that idea!!!! Too bad I'm not a great sewer but I might have to try this for the spring!

  70. Chiemi says:

    I don't comment very often, but I had to this time. This is such a darling dress! I need to make one for each of my daughters now!

  71. StrawberryBlond says:

    I had the exact same thought when my daughter put on her new long sleeve tee from (where else?) The Children's Place! Now that you've done all the work of figuring out how to "fix" it, I'm all set! Thanks for sharing.

  72. Harmony says:

    Apparently we have a lot of the same ideas…I did the exact same thing for my baby.
    Great minds think alike! ;-)

  73. Emmy says:

    It is magnificent! Very beautiful colors! Thank you for the explanations

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

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