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Repurposing – Simple Dress (from Men’s Button-Up shirt)

I just love this whole re-purposing thing.
Have you seen the girl’s dresses dresses made from men’s shirts floating around the “how to’s” lately?
Well here’s my spin on it.
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Don’t let me catch you stealing your husband’s/brother’s/dad’s button up shirts to do this project.
………….Actually, go ahead. My lips are sealed.


: : Remember to click on any images to enlarge them. : :


All you need is a men’s shirt…..once again, the bigger the shirt, the more fabric you’ll have to work with. And I’ll just be giving you guidelines, not actual measurements. So, cut out according to the size of the little girl you’ll be sewing for.


First, un-pick the seam of the pocket and remove. (or you can even leave it there……whatever you’d like to do.)


Then, make sure to line up the front of the shirt with the back (especially along the bottom and the side seams) and cut off the top and the arms.


And then cut the sides to a diagonal, making a straight line from the bottom corners up to the top corners. The more fabric width you use here, the more full and gathered the dress will be.


Then, this is optional, but you can sew the opening closed. I sewed along both sides of the buttons, near the edge of the section that runs right down the front of the shirt. I just didn’t want to have to worry about buttons popping open while in use.


Now sew your side seams. I used a french seam here…….thanks to those who mentioned that I should try this or do a tutorial about it. I had forgotten about this seam and it has been years since I used it. And now, thanks to the great reminders, I love it again. Sew your side seams together with 1/4 inch seam allowance……


And then turn inside out (press if needed… may help you the first time or so). Now place your fabric right sides together and sew again near that seam you just made, using a 1/4 or even a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This will encase all of those raw edges. I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the inside to be sure and catch any uneven edges.


Then, fold down the top edge a 1/4 inch and then another 1/2 inch and sew along the bottom, creating a casing for your elastic. Make sure to leave an opening to insert the elastic.


Then, thread your elastic (1/4 inch wide or less) through with a safety pin attached to one end.


Now, hem the bottom of the dress by folding the edge under a 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 or 1/2 inch.


Cut your straps out of the sleeves, making sure to include enough for seam allowances.


Fold them in half lengthwise, turn right side out, and iron flat.


Then attach one end of both straps to the front of the dress, right in the center.


You can see from the inside that I attached the straps with a seam along the top (making sure to not sew over the elastic) and then I tucked under the ends and sewed them into place so that they wouldn’t be hanging out.


And then try the dress on your little girl to see where to attach the other end of the straps. I didn’t measure mine long enough so I didn’t have enough room to tuck under the ends. So I just zig-zagged the ends and then attached them to the dress. Maybe when you do it, you can plan better than I did. :)


You’re almost done.


To make the flower, cut a long strip of fabric about an inch wide and the longer the better. I sewed several pieces together to make a really long piece……probably 35 or more inches. And then I decided to make one end of my strip more narrow (about 1/2 inch wide) than the other end so that the inside of the flower would be shorter and then the outside would poof out more. So I trimmed off a 1/2 inch at one end and angled out until I reached the full width of one inch at the other end. Make sense?


Then hand stitch a really long stitch, along one edge of your strip of fabric. Once you reach the other end of the strip, pull the thread to bunch up your fabric. You don’t need to bunch it up very much, just a bit as you’re forming your flower.


Start at one end and wrap around in a circle, keeping all of the raw edges at one spot underneath. Keep the center of the flower pinched between your thumb and first two fingers as you are forming the flower. That will help keep it all together. (notice in the picture below that I didn’t gather the fabric very much.)


Once you get to the end of your fabric, use your thread and needle that is still attached to sew in and out at the base, securing the flower together. Do this over and over again so that it doesn’t come after being washed and such.


Then attach to the front of the dress very securely with a needle and thread. (Or you can attach the flower with a safety pin so that it’s removable for washings. I attached mine and have washed it twice and it makes the flower fray a bit but it’s kind of a cute shabby look.)


You’re done.


And have completed a fashionable re-purposed project. Feels good inside, doesn’t it? Ahhhhh…….

Tutorial for that little birdy hair clip is found here.


And don’t worry, I have a boy project coming up tomorrow.

Ashley Johnston

Administrator 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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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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