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Re-purposing: Tshirt into Dress (or Top) with Braided Straps


Remember my last post? Where I talked about passing by clearanced shirts at Wal-Mart and 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.



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  1. Antje says:

    I made a Dutch version, in orange, red, white and blue… My measurements were not so well (made it to wide at the top) but my girl loved it! Thank you!!

  2. Amy says:

    This is super cute! I love the braided straps, I was just thinking about braided straps, lol now I don’t have to come up with a dress idea, yours is super and thank you for sharing!

  3. Jane says:

    Oh my gosh, she is so very very gorgeous. Angel faced child :D

  4. Anna says:

    That is so cute. I love the idea of the four straps. Will definitely do this on old shirts.

  5. kim says:

    love it!!! and I work at walmart!!! w/ 3 grand daughters!!!

  6. Jenny says:

    that’s awesome :D

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I was just wondering how wide the strips were that you used to make the braided straps. I’m making this dress for my 3 year old and the other t-shirt dress with the braided collar for my 5 month old. It’s so hard to buy them matching outfits because of their age difference and these little dresses solved that problem perfectly!

  8. amy says:

    absolutely LOVE this and will be trying it out this weekend! Do you create tops for yourself with this same basic pattern?

  9. Anonymous says:

    have you thought about adding pockets?

  10. Kim says:

    This is so cute and clever! And, your little model is adorable, I must say.

  11. Sara B. says:

    These have been such awesome tutorials lately. I’ve really enjoyed all of them. Thanks!

  12. Rachel says:

    Can you please be my next-door neighbor and teach me how to sew during naptime???? Everything you make is so amazing!!! I love it!

  13. louise says:

    adorable. Can I make one for me too?? great idea!

    1. Ashley says:

      Totally make one for you. I was thinking it would be a cute top……..or even a really fun beach cover up. just a thought.

  14. Stephanie says:

    So just an idea- I wanted to post this on Pinterest, but there’s not a picture of JUST the dress, and while I figured you’d be okay with me pinning her picture (since it’s not like your blog is private), I wanted to see if you were okay with that, or thought that maybe you’d rather not. If that’s the case, how about taking a pic of just the dress/shirt/skirt/whatever cute thing you make without the sweet girl in it?

    1. Ashley says:

      You can go right ahead. Usually I try to post at least one picture of the item NOT on my child (if it’s a clothing tutorial) but all of the ones not on her didn’t turn out. And didn’t show the details of the dress very well at all. Anyway, the last dress had some pictures just hanging on a hanger…….but this one are all on my daughter. But you have my permission to post one on pinterest. If you want to chop her head off (gosh, that sounds bad, but you know what I mean), that’s fine. Or if you want to use it with her head…….that’s fine too. Thanks for asking!! :)

  15. Jessica says:

    I just got some great stuff at Target today that was basically free on clearance and with added coupons. I can’t wait to start on some super cute stuff! I just may run out of girl for all of my creations, though!

    1. Ashley says:

      Yay!! Let me know how it goes!

  16. yolanda says:

    It really fits perfect in your beautiful girl! thanks for being so creative!

  17. Andrea says:

    So sweet! I’m always itching to see what you’re up to next… so inspiring me to get sewing!! and with my new Janome, maybe I can :)

  18. April says:

    super super cute! I love braided straps!

  19. Jamie says:

    So CUTE! You are amazing!

  20. kristina says:

    I LOVE it! I want to try one…only I want to make a top, for me!

  21. Arabella says:

    So cute – it looks really comfortable, and in the winter you can just put it over a white long sleeved top and leggings! It looks even nicer than ones you can buy in shops – they normally don’t think of the braided detail.
    And your little girl looks very cute with her new hairstyle!

    1. Ashley says:

      Exactly. You can use it all year round!

      And thanks……..I think that short hair looks pretty cute on her too!

  22. mary young says:

    really darling! so creative- great job- love the website!

  23. Anna@DirectionsNotIncluded says:


  24. Heather says:

    Super cute!!!

  25. Elisabeth says:

    Love this!! Nice & easy!!

  26. Kerry says:

    I love this tutorial. And I love your new blog background. I especially love the new header. It’s so fresh and simple looking.

  27. Lucía says:

    I love your tutorials, you make a great work! Me too I have to try this, but for me! :)

  28. Laura says:

    super sweet!!! love it

  29. Beth says:

    LOVE these cute little dresses. you are amazingly talented, and your children are so beautiful! :)

  30. Jessica says:

    Love it! Going to have to try this for my daughter. She loves it when I make her clothes. This would definitely look cute on her!

  31. Viviana says:

    Brilliant, it looks perfect for summer and I like that straps don’t seem to come down all the time!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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