Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing: Clothing » Baby Clothing » Re-Purposing: T-Shirt into Dress

Re-Purposing: T-Shirt into Dress

Does your little girl have an old T-shirt?
One that is too short?
Stained on the belly?
Has a rip right through the fabric?
No worries……turn it into a sweet pleated dress.

With a nice big pleated waist line…
And a nice chunky bow to cinch it all in.
And yes, this dress is perfect for dancing…
and flapping like a bird…
Or just plain ‘ol being a kid…
If interested, I bought this fabric at ‘The Fabric Store‘.
(Riley Blake Designs Umbrella Tops in White here.)

Perfect for this time of year.
Ready to make your own?
First, grab an old knit Tshirt and decide where you want the top of the waist line to hit your little girl.  Place a pin there and measure down about 2 inches.  Then cut the shirt off there.
***Don’t throw the rest of the shirt away….I’ll show you how to use it on a different project.
Then cut two large rectangles for the skirt section of the dress.  My two pieces were 33 inches wide x 25 inches long.  The front of my shirt was 11 inches across, so I tripled that and cut a piece that was 33 inches wide.  For the length, I decided that I needed the bottom part of the dress to be 21 inches long from the top of the pleats, down to the bottom of the dress.  And then I needed an extra 2 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom……so that’s 25 inches long all together.
Make sure to cut 2 of these pieces.
I decided to make french seams on this dress for the side seams.  (But you can always just do a side seam and then zig-zag on the inside, to keep it from fraying.  French seams always look nicer though.)
To do this, place your two pieces together with wrong sides together, then sew these two pieces together along the side (25 inch side in my case) using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Then flip the fabric the other way and enclose the raw edges of that seam (iron first to help it lay flat) and sew a 1/2 inch seam allowance with the right sides together.
Then open it back up.  Those raw edges are nice and enclosed……no loose strings or edges.  Do the same thing with the other side…..attaching the other side pieces together with a nice french seam.  Iron both side seams open and flat.
Now turn the skirt section inside out and then fold over the top of the skirt section a 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch and sew into place.  Then fold the top down 1 1/2 inches and iron flat.
Then, turn it right side out and start making pleats along the front piece of the skirt.  Use pins to keep the pleats in place.  And keep the top edge of the fabric (where the fold is) lined up and even.
Here’s the top view of those pleats.
Here is the view from the back side.  Nice and neat.
You’re going to have to play around with the size of your pleats.  But by cutting out a piece of fabric that was 3 times as wide as the final width, that should give you enough fabric to play with and make the skirt kind of full.   Once the front section (from side seam to side seam) is the same width as your shirt, you’re done.
And once the front matches up, do the same to the back.
Then make a seam 3/4 of an inch from the top of the pleats…..securing all of the pleats in place.
Then pin the bottom section of the dress to the shirt, 2 inches from the bottom of the shirt (because earlier you made sure to keep an extra 2 inches to the length of the tshirt, right?)  Pin all the way around the shirt, attaching the pleated section to the shirt.
Then sew right on top of that seam, attaching the pleated section to the dress.
Now you’re going to make a tube that will be used for you tie.  The dress I made fits about a 4T size and I wanted the tie to be about 1 3/4 inches wide………..then ended up being about 73 inches long.  So I cut a piece of fabric that was 4 x 74 inches (and had to actually sew two pieces of fabric together to get a piece that was that long).  Then I made the tube just like this tutorial here.  Then I ironed it flat.
Next, I placed the center of the tie right on top of that seam that attached the pleat section to the shirt.
And I pinned the tie in place and sewed right along the top of the tie, very close to the edge.  I only sewed from one side seam of the dress to the other side seam.
Then I made sure the pleats were laying flat and pinned the bottom of the tie down to the dress.  Make sure to include the bottom of the shirt (that’s in the inside) while you pin, so that it will be included in your seam.
Then I sewed along the sides and the bottom of the tie, securing the tie to the dress.
Then I tucked in the raw edges of the ends of the ties towards the inside, about a 1/4 inch……..and sewed them shut.  Nice and simple. 

Lastly, I folded the bottom edge under a 1/2 inch and then another inch, sewed it in place, then ironed it flat.  (But make sure to try it on your little girl to see how long you’d like it…..then hem the dress.)

And that’s it.
A new look for that old wrecked Tshirt.
One that is perfect for hopping and dancing……


  1. Aaron & Ashley Gilbert says:

    Cute Cute!

  2. Carlotta says:

    OMG I love this!!! I am so going to make this for my baby this weekend. Thanks for the tut, will send a pic once it's done.


  3. Alisha @ Crafty Brooklyn Army Wife says:

    This is an adorable dress!!

    Please stop by my blog to pick up your award.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Absolutely adorable. The dress is darling too!

  5. The Cottage Mama says:

    This is too cute and really pretty simple! Great idea and Riley Blake is always a great choice :-).


  6. leardonsbelle says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thanks for this great tutorial. I can't wait to make one for my daughter! Perfect for summer!

  7. Anderson says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  8. ~Katie~ says:

    Funny you posted this today, I was just going through Bri's shirts figuring out which one to make a dress out of! LOL Cute cute!

  9. Ticia says:

    I am so doing this with something, don't know what yet, but something.

  10. Tere says:

    How cute! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Cheryl says:

    Really lovely & unique. That fabric is cute too. I know I wouldn't have the patience to make it so neat!

  12. Devon! says:

    oh my goodness! such an adorable idea. i LOVE her matching headband too! i just love the fabric! i will be doing this!

  13. Kyle and Amanda says:

    Hi Ashley
    Thanks for all of the great ideas from your blog- I love them. I was wondering if you could maybe help me. You see, we just finished re-staining our entertainment center and I am so excited to decorate. But, there is some kindof awkward space that I just don't know what to do with. I thought about candle sticks but they are just so darn expensive. I have posted some pictures on my blog. If you get a free second could you look? I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks so much

  14. Jill says:

    How cute! Thanks for the lovely tutorial.

  15. Delia says:

    Clever and beautiful! Very, very nice!

  16. CHER says:

    This is a beautiful dress! I can't wait to try it on my own!! My daughter has SO MANY stained shirts!! I knew there was a reason I couldn't bear to throw them away…

  17. ellzabelle says:

    AMAZING!!!! I love pleats and this is the cutest. Definitely have a lot of stained shirts so will be trying this. And will be doing french seams for the first time! Thanks. Ellen

  18. Vicky says:

    Adorable and perfect for a little princess! I'm definitely trying this one!!

  19. Marisa says:

    So cute …. my girl wore a shirt yesterday that would be so perfect for this! TFS!

    *Also wanted to let you know about my favorite notion for turning tubes. I found it at Joann in the notions section … didn't know it existed before then. It's a Dritz Turn-it-all. It works like magic!

  20. [MONSTER] says:

    This is a seriously awesome idea. I'm gonna show it to my kid-by-proxy and see if we can throw together some cute summertime dresses for her.

  21. Cami says:

    Love it! My daughter has so many shirts I can try this out on. I can't wait! Thanks for this great idea

  22. Shannon says:

    Can I say enough about this one?! NO! SOOO cute and I am so excited to do this for my little sweet girl! Thank you for doing a tutorial and yes, I too, LOVE the fabric! I loved your pillows too (the tie ones for you bed) and I made one too that I am in love with now! Thanks for sharing you fab talent!

  23. Suze says:

    That is SO cute!

    I just bought fabric to make a full-on dress out of a pattern, for my 2 girls and now I'm just going to make this! SO easy!!

    Thanks so much for all that you create!

  24. The six of us! says:

    What a great detail tutorial! Thank you for sharing your creativeness, no it time for me to get sewing!!!

  25. Emily says:

    Fabulous! I can't wait to try it!!

  26. Liz says:

    What a pretty dress…love it! ~Liz

  27. Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity says:

    Thank you so much for the French seam tutorial! I always hate to do the pinking shears thing with items that will be gifts (looks too homespun to me), so I'm very happy to learn about a new seam finishing technique!

  28. Kristy says:

    Absolutely adorable!!!

  29. Maria and Michelle says:

    Such a cute dress and the tutorial is so easy to follow! You have me wanting to get busy making some new dresses.


  30. Beverly @ says:

    Oh I love it! And that fabric is To Die For. Thanks for letting us know what it is. Turned out super cute. (And perfect for twirling.) ;)

  31. Rebekah says:

    Absolute perfection!

  32. Juli says:

    You are so talented! I love it!!

  33. Leslie says:

    This is a very cute dress, great post & tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I just tweeted about it so hope it brings some other 'refashioners' your way. :-)

  34. Katie says:

    Okay. Awesome. And if that fabric doesn't make the cutest dress, I don't know what does. My Goose would go crazy for it!

  35. Shir Benovich says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial – I think that even I can do it! I starred this post for future reference :-)

  36. steffany says:

    I love this, I might even use a onesie since my sweet little one is still needing diaper covers. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Kathryn says:

    I can usually take or leave "t-shirt to dress" tutes but my gosh, this is so cute. Lovely!

  38. Susan says:

    SOOO stinkin' cute!!

  39. Alicia says:

    I'm making this for ME!

  40. Ali says:

    I love this– so pretty- thanks so much for posting the tutorial!

  41. Melanie says:

    Really cute… and the Riley Blake fabric really makes it spring-time worthy!

  42. The Pollards says:

    I love all of your sewing tutorials! I just cut off the bottom half of some onesies that just don't fit right (you know the ones) and of course I hemmed them and they are just too short for my daughter to wear. Well she can wear them under a jumper of some sort. But anyway this will be a great solution. I am going to work on this ASAP.

  43. NatureGirl says:

    I am sooooo making a thousand of these!

  44. Sew-Over-It says:

    Adorable! I love the pleated skirt, what a great combo with the yellow bow. Great job, your blog is awesome… learned a lot of great tips from you! Thanks! :)

  45. Marjorie says:

    So cute! Absolutely loooove the umbrella fabric!

  46. ~*Jess*~ says:

    That is so cute! I really need to learn how to use (and buy) a sewing machine!

  47. Heather says:

    I love this thanks for the great tutorial!!!

  48. CourtneyKeb says:

    I love this!!! I love everything about it.
    I love the precious little girl and the yellow fabric flowers in her hair.
    I love the pleats and the big yellow waist tie.
    I LOVE the fabric, and I love the tutorial!
    I'm so doing this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Hi, I'm Ashley

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

Back to Top