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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.

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  1. says:

    Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp
    a lot about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I think that you can do with some percent to pressure the
    message home a bit, however instead of that, this is excellent blog.

    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  2. Debbie Tims says:

    I LOVE projects that require little time. Can’t wait to try this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Emily says:

    I love this! We are using it for a costume for our little girls tap dance costume to “It’s a Hard Knock Life”. I wanted something that looked secondhand but still cute. (the girls think it is a little too cute, ha!) This is perfect! Thanks for the great website, I am hooked!

  4. Jill says:

    I adore this idea. I’ve seen some other men’s shirt repurposing, but I think I can actually follow yours. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  5. sisters playing house says:

    This is great! I posted this tute on our blog post yesterday.

  6. Julia says:

    So cute!
    How do you even think of these amazing ideas?
    Keep sharing.

  7. Lanamae says:

    what would it look like if you left the collar on and made as a halter that way?

  8. Alexis says:

    I love this!!! I just made it and it is the cutest little outfit! :) Thank you!!!

  9. Gizem says:

    You are amazing! O will make a halter from my boyfriends old shirts :)
    Lot's of love from Istanbul

  10. Ashley says:

    Emily, the tutorial for that little clip is found here:

    Good luck!

  11. Emily says:

    Uber cute! I heart heart your blog – just recently found it! Can you tell me how you made the blue bird on brown felt hair clip? Or blog it? It looks so adorable! I'd love something that cute to adorn my 2 girls' hair.

  12. Jessy says:

    This is kewl, I will be robbing some of my husbands shirts…LOL

    Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Ashley says:

    THere is a photo of the back with the straps but it's only the top part of the dress. Sorry, that was probably confusing. It's the picture right under the one showing where to place the straps on the front. But just click on the picture to get a larger view of it.

    In the back, the straps just go straight back, right at each shoulder blade. They don't cross or anything.

    Hope that helps!

  14. MacGyver's Lovechild says:

    I know this was posted ages ago, but it's so great! I made one tonight but I'm not sure where to put the straps at the back. Do you have any tips for where to place them, or a photo of the back?

  15. Ashley says:

    Awww, JamieS, that turned out really adorable. And your flower is perfect!! Thanks for the link! :)

  16. pooja says:

    its ..sooo..cute i loved it thnx…even m goonaa try it..

  17. Lindsay says:

    I can't wait to try this with one of my Maternity button down shirts… perfect colors for it! I love your blog!

  18. Stephanie says:

    I'm LOVING your blog and this post…speechless!!! I can't wait to try this!!!!!!

  19. EdsonBunch says:

    Oh I just finished this dress…SO CUTE! I made it for my 7 month old so I got a way with stealing a shirt from my son who's 6. You made it so easy. The hardest part was the dumb flower! I may have to take it off and try again :(!!

  20. Annie says:

    Thank your for all of your simple but great re-purposing ideas. I saw this and then created a similar sundress from a skirt. I set up a link at

  21. Ashley says:

    Bookworm, I always put a picture of the finished product at the beginning and usually one at the end too. Are they not showing up for you? Sorry if you're having trouble viewing the images but I try to throw in plenty for you all to see.

  22. Bookworm says:

    can you show a pic of the completed projects either in the beginning so we can see what we are making or at the end of your tutorials so we see how it turned out. specifically the dress made from the man's shirt?

  23. Audrey says:

    I accutally made this dress and I love it! I'm trying to decide whether to make the flower on the front a different color then the shirt or the same… um. I don't know I'll have to give it more thought.

    Thank you for all of your ideas.

  24. serra says:

    Hey Ashley! I have been following your blog for some time and I love it! I am trying to make the flower for this project and am having a hard time keeping the raw edges of the fabric in one spot underneath without the flower looking like anything other than a bud. Would you be able to put a picture of the back side of the flower so we can see how you did it?

  25. Special Deals says:

    k your website I just found and love it.

  26. Jess says:

    I LOVE the flower! So cute!!

  27. Marisa says:

    What a cute thing to do with an old shirt! Congratulations!
    Marisa, from

  28. Fat & Sassy says:

    I really really like this! Great project-good job!!!!!!


  29. says:

    Aww, I love this version! The flower is darling. Thanks so much for sharing the how-to, I'll be linking.

  30. Renee says:

    That is such a great idea!!!!our daughter is completely adorable….
    such fun projects on here! THANK YOU!!!
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  31. Rob-O says:

    cute, Ash. I love it!

  32. susana says:

    Wow !!!!!!amazing i love it…
    thanks for the such a great idea ..
    its really amazing …
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  33. Cora says:

    I've had a shirt in my sewing room for several months waiting for me to convert it into something new. I love your version.

  34. The Noalls says:

    Can't wait for the boy project, since that's all I have! :)

  35. Kim says:

    This is so precious and innovative! What an adorable idea! Time to bust out the sewing machine and give it a whirl for my friends with kids! Thanks for the idea! Who knows, maybe after I create this I'll feature on my creative idea blog! Love it!

  36. michellejohnnie says:

    I've seen quite a few of these type of dresses, but never any with that big shabby flower! Love it! I'm featuring this at Grab my "featured" button

  37. Rebekah says:

    Is there any reason this couldn't be made up as a woman's top? I'm thinking two straps (to conceal bra straps) instead of the halter, but the rest would be pretty much the same, right?

  38. Badillo Family says:

    I just came across your blog and am having a blast going through your projects! What a great idea using hubby's old shirts! I love it! Can't wait to see more of your ideas!

  39. Dalling Family says:

    This is cute Ash! I have seen a lot of these floating around the web. I like your other repurposing ideas. I have started to get an itch to do these too. You must be doing the same thing I am – looking for something new to create! I have been working on some little girl skirts and such. :o)

  40. laskuh says:

    I love your blog, some of your projects have been a real lifesaver. I always show it to my friends when they have babies and want to start making them stuff.

  41. Cori says:

    That is SO cute! I wish I was more of an adventurous sewer; I need patterns & measurements though. :)

  42. Sims Family says:

    I love it! Thanks for sharing! I have a half finishe re-purposed shirt I am going to see if I can transform. AND I am going to a clothing swap tomorrow. mmm. The wheels are turning.

  43. Ashley says:

    SOOO cute! I wish my hubby would part with some dress shirts!!!

  44. From Janes Oven says:

    THIS IS WAY TO CUTE! I am excited to see what you boy thing is tomorrow.

  45. Anne says:

    I might tell you this often, but I LOVE YOU! you have such fun projects on here! THANK YOU!!!

  46. The Hardy Things in Life says:

    I love it! Super cute! You are so talented! Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!! YOU GO GIRL!!

  47. Grace says:

    That's adorable! I'm gonna have to raid our closet to get a shirt he doesn't even wear anymore. I can't wait for the boy project! I have twins- a boy and a girl!

  48. Sarah says:

    That is adorable!

  49. Limara Lis - Editora says:


    Muito interessante e útil a ideia de reaproveitar roupas. A reciclagem da camisa em roupa infantil eu gostei… Talvez eu fizesse acabamento nas bordas da flor e diminuísse um pouco o tamanho desta. Mas é uma boa sugestão!

  50. Jenny says:

    How would it be to be so creative? I love this idea. Thanks for the tutorial! And your daughter is completely adorable.

  51. Rachel says:

    Ooh! This is so cute! I might have to make this soon!

  52. Curtis and Dani Welton says:

    LOVE it! It is so much cuter than the ones I have seen around!

  53. Walking in the rain says:

    wow! such a great idea! i'm so impressed!

  54. tara.and.ben says:

    that is such a great idea! I'm gonna try it…and eli's hair is SOOO darling!

  55. MomE says:

    I'm so doing this…I love it!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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