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Re-purposing: Skirt/Shirt into a Dress

I know I have posted plenty of re-purposing projects…..and maybe you’re tired of them.
But I can’t help it.
(Okay, and the budget is so itty bitty right now……you know that whole applying to grad school thing. Yeah it takes its toll.)
But I have had an absolute ball adding to my kids wardrobe without going to the store to buy them. So if you haven’t given it a try……..go on and test it out. You’ll be so proud of yourselfwhen you’re done.

And this one will not take you any time at all. Do you have an old skirt? And how about an old shirt of your daughter’s that she has outgrown? Merge them together……

Come on…..can life be any sweeter? Your very own masterpiece in a half hour. Really.

To begin, find an old skirt of yours (too small, too big, or just tired of it…) and then find a matching shirt of your daughter’s/granddaughter’s/friend’s or even at the thrift store. (Cotton material for both will work best. But be creative and use whatever you’d like. If you’re using knits, just be very cautious while sewing, to keep if from stretching and becoming all bubbly along the seams.)

Try the shirt on your little girl (or just guess) to see where you’d like the empire waist to hit her and then add another 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. Mark that length. Then decide how long you’d like the dress to be and cut off enough of the skirt to make the dress long enough and another 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. Cut both accordingly.

Then, sew a large gathering stitch a 1/4 inch from the top of the skirt along the front and along the back…leaving long tails of thread to be able to pull. For more detailed instructions, visit one of my old posts here. Place the skirt and the shirt together, with right sides together. Sew along the raw edge, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Then zig-zag all along that raw edge. Trim if needed.

Now, you can either turn right sideout and press…..and be done. Or you can continue if you have leftover scraps.

I used the waistband of the skirt to create a belt/tie for the dress. I had enough fabric to make a 1.5 inch wide by 3 foot long tie (so, about 3.5 inch wide by 3 foot long…..then folded in half lengthwise with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, turned right side out and pressed flat.) Then I tucked the ends inside itself to the center about a 1/4 inch and then top stitched around the entire thing. Then I pinned the belt/tie to the dress to the front of the dress, hiding the empire waist seam. And then I sewed along the top and the bottom of the belt/tie, backstitching several times along the sides of the dress…….

………leaving the ends free.

Then I added a fabric flower, just like the one I made here. I know, I use them all of the time. They just add such a cute touch to everything. Love them.

Then press anything else that may need it and then put your little creation on your little lady.
She’ll love it…..because it’s made especially for her.

**Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an old skirt to transform. You can just use fabric from your fabric stash and create the bottom of the dress with it. But using an old shirt for the top keeps this project simple, because you don’t have to make a kneckline, sleeves, etc.**

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. Emilee says:

    Thank you for the creative inspiration! I seem to have made an over abundance of dresses for my daughter now ;)

  2. Katie says:

    I just found this on Pinterest. I have this same skirt! I bought it at the thrift store thinking I would make it into an apron, but I love this dress! I am so going to make one for my daughter! Thanks for the great ideas on your blog!

  3. Nimmi says:

    Hi Ashley,

    Wow!! I wish I had come across your blog earlier. Its amazing!!!! Your have such great ideas and inexpensive too. I have a 4 year old ( almost 5 ) daughter and a husband who loves to buy buy buy clothes for her. She has out grown so many clothes that she has hardly worn and I give it off to friends or donate. I’m going to try some of your ideas on some stuff I have here, actually packed for donating. I’m not that good at sewing though. But I have so much stuff, I can practice all I want. Thank You for such wonderful ideas. I would Love to see my littlel one in something I made for her! Your kids look adorable ! :-))

  4. katie says:

    This is the second dress I’ve made from your tutorials (the first one was the t shirt with the pleated fabric skirt) The project came together so quickly and my daughter loves her new dress, she’s also so proud that her mommy made it from old things! We’re headed back to the thrift store to find a few t shirts to make the Valentines day dress, thanks for shaing such great tutorials :)

  5. rommy10 says:


    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you!

  6. Dani says:

    I love all your projects, especially the re-purposing ones. So fun and simple to make…great for me since I'm such a beginner.

    I made this and linked to your site:

  7. Betsy says:

    I have this skirt! American Eagle I think.

  8. LyndiLou says:

    This dress turned out just beautiful! :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. *katie* says:

    Oh that is so stinkin' cute! And I have that same skirt…which is a little too small these days…if I had a little girl, I would so do this! I'll hold on to it just in case…

  10. Kathryn says:

    Now I don't have to feel guilty if I am really sick of wearing that skirt and feel like I have been wearing it since 1985, and want to get rid of it forever. Genius!

  11. jodi says:

    I love the re-purposing projects! Now if you could come up with something I could wear — that would be amazing. Love you!

  12. tam says:

    Another AWESOME idea! Thanks Ashley!! I just nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Check out the details here:

  13. The DIY Show Off says:

    SO PRETTY! I love your creativity.

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  14. Adam Archibald Family says:

    I love the re-purposing posts! Keep them coming!!! I made the skirt with leggings for my 3 year old and she loves it. I'm trying this next:)

  15. pnix says:

    I definitely agree with everyone who loves the repurposing projects! I say, keep them coming! So far I've been able to turn 2 shirts into dresses, a dress into a skirt, and now I am definitely going to raid my closet to find something for this one! The only place it might get expensive is that I'm going to need new clothes b/c I am repurposing all my stuff for my girls…

  16. jess says:

    ca-ute! love using old skirts, etc, to make new adorable clothes!

  17. ••PauLa Ga•• says:

    Hey, i love it! wow! ^^ please visit my blog, is only a baby, but is my with my style.

  18. Shanny Bananny says:

    I started following your blog because of your repurposing ideas! You inspired me! Last night, I turned my husband's torn sweater into 2 pairs of pants for my boys, size 4t and 2t. Thanks for the inspiration… pics are up on my blog if you care to see! Keep up all the excellent tutorials, they are so appreciated!
    ~ Shannon at

  19. laurylaro says:

    You are so inspiring!! I am actually going to try it. THanks so much for posting these tutorials!

  20. Shanda says:

    Please keep putting re-purposing tutorials on! I love them and have the perfect skirt for this one.

  21. Katie says:

    That is just adorable! I for one love your repurposing ideas… it is a great way to make something new for my daughter without having to do too much work… but they always turn out so cute! Thanks so much for the work and effort you put in to your blog! I love checking it out often to see what new things you have going on!

  22. Becky DeVries says:

    cute cute cute. I love to see everyone!!

  23. Lisa says:

    are you kidding? who could possibly get sick of re-purposing projects?! please don't stop writing about them!! this is so sweet, love it!

  24. Jess says:

    this is amazing. you're amazing. love it!

  25. Sara says:

    Oh my heck! I have that same skirt! I'll definately have to try this for my little girl. It turned out so cute! Good job!


  26. Bethany says:

    NEVER SICK OF REPURPOSING PROJECTS!!!! Ever. You are the re-purposing goddess of the internet, and I enjoy all of the crafts that you produce, but I LOVE the repurposing. Amazing job as usual, and as usual, it's reachable for the sewing idiots like myself. :)

    Thank you! Love it! Keep 'em coming!

  27. MaryAnne says:

    Fabulous idea! I hope you do more repurposing projects – it's how I make most of my kids' clothes and I'm always looking for inspiration…

  28. Melanie says:

    The only skirts in my "probably will never wear again" pile are chiffon and the like. I guess it is time for me to
    a) brave the slinky fabric
    b) head to goodwill/ mom's DI pile!

  29. Sheila says:

    Okay, as someone who isn't applying for grad school and whose budget is okay (not huge, but okay :) ), let me say that I LOVE your repurposing ideas and I will NEVER get tired of them. You do such an amazing job! Thanks for your blog!!

  30. Bethany says:

    Another fabulous idea! I love it!

  31. Carol B says:

    amazing; you just keep on surprising me, with more and more creative ideas!

  32. rebecca says:

    Too too cute!!! I love a good skirt redo!

  33. jen says:

    my sister sent me this and I love it! I'm now following your blog :) so lovely.
    can't wait for my baby to be big enough to make such fun things for her, so creative. thanks!

  34. PHARES CAUSEY says:

    It's great! Ive got to try!!!

  35. Scrappy Gifts says:

    that is really darling!

  36. Vanessa says:

    I have done this but I have to say that your re-purpose of the skirt/shirt is darling… It makes me want to go in my closet and see what else I can come up with!

  37. Kari @ Ucreate says:

    Absolutely AMAZING idea!!

  38. Amanda says:

    So so cute!

    The possibilities are endless so I don't see anything wrong with all the different repurpose projects they are fun….I just pulled a couple shirts out of my closet to expirement this morning :)

  39. Limara Lis - Editora says:

    Esta garotinha é linda!

    A saia estava meio retrô, mas o vestidinho ficou um charme!

  40. Jamie says:

    I love this idea. I have a skirt that I never wear and I've been debating on what I want to do with it.

  41. Jessica says:

    Absolutely adorable!! I am going to have to try that for Kalyssa!!!

  42. Kent and Katie says:

    Okay. THat turned out just darling. I mean, I have loved ALL of your repurposed projects, but this one just about wins. It is just so sweet. Nice work!

  43. Bonita Boutique says:

    This is way cute!

  44. nap time journal says:

    I just did this very thing to make my daughters Cinderalla dress for Halloween! It is such a great idea and anything to not have to make sleeves is a perk :)

    Turned out cute!

  45. Emily B says:

    I too love the repurposing posts! As usual, lovely!

  46. Lynette says:

    AHHH! I Love this idea. SOOO cute!

  47. Big Mama Morgan says:

    Don't ever stop repurposing, or showing us how to do it! I love it!! I've just started sewing without patterns, so I really enjoy your tutorials :)

  48. Suzanne Sergis says:

    This is so cute and clever too!

  49. Kirsten says:

    You always have the cutest coordinating fabric, skirts, shirts, etc. to repurpose!

  50. PlantSomeRoots@Lakewood says:

    Just found your blog and decided to be a follower. The dress and the ease of how it is made is fantabulous!
    Living it up at Lakewood,

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

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