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Ruffled Heart Valentine Dress (Made from recycled Tshirts)



My kids had such fun last fall with a holiday EVERY MONTH…….they’re going through withdrawal this month.  They keep asking me when the next holiday is going to be.  Well little munchkins, Valentine’s Day is on its way.  No worries, more excitement/treats/traditions are coming right up.  So let’s celebrate with a little Valentine’s attire. 



First up, my 5 year old girl.  (I’ll show you a little something for my little guy and baby girl in the next few days.)


EDITED:  In case you need a couple other Valentine’s Day Clothing ideas…….here are a few.

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(Click on each image to visit tutorial.)



She loves dresses and skirts.  That’s it.  So I made her another one to add to her collection.

(**And nope, I didn’t even use my serger once.  This was all made on my standard sewing machine.)



And since this dress is made completely from thrifted women’s Tshirts…….this dress only cost me a few dollars.  (The thrift store was having a half off sale.  Half off a dollar or two?  Sold.)





Once I sewed up the last seam and told her that I just finished her ‘Valentine’s Day Dress‘…….she shrieked.  And then asked me, “Mommy, is Valentine’s this day or the tomorrow day?”  Ummmm, well, just about 20 more days.  It’ll be here in no time, Little Miss.




This girl loves purple and pink equally.  So that big ruffly heart made her grin.




I know we don’t need a new outfit for every holiday……but for some reason, it makes the whole day a lot more fun.




And since her momma can’t stand not making new things, especially out of clothing outcasts…….she got a new outfit.




I decided to use color blocking with my heart but you could use all one color or even use the same color (like red on red) for a great monotone look.


And if you already have a plain shirt or dress that fits your little girl nicely…….you can save yourself some time and skip making the actual dress and just add on the heart.  That would really speed things up.  But if not, go for it and make the whole thing from scratch.  What have you got to lose?  (A few old Tshirts?)







So, for only a few dollars (unless you have all the right colors you need right in your closet/stash)…….you can cut up some old knit shirts and make your little lady just as happy as this one. 




I hope simple things like ruffled hearts, always bring a smile to your face, little lady.




Would you like to make a ruffled heart dress of your own?


***If you are adding a heart to an existing dress or shirt, you can skip ahead a few steps.  Keep in mind that you will need to adjust your fabric a little bit as you’re sewing so that you don’t sew through the back layer of your shirt/dress…….but you can still do it.


First of all, you’ll need some knit for this dress.  Knit at the stores is limited, so I always dig through my closet or our donation pile first.  If I can’t find the colors I need, I head to the thrift store and look for stretchy Tshirts that I think will work well.  When digging through shirts, try and find stretchy Tshirts that aren’t heavy and stiff like men’s plain Tshirts.  Find some that are lighter and have some good stretch and shape to them.  If you’re at the store……look for some Jersey Knit that follows these same descriptions.


My pile of knits are all women’s tshirts.  I looked in the XL section, to give me more fabric to work with.  The grey shirt is what I decided to use for my base color and I made sure that it was the exact length that I needed for my little girl so that I could use the neckline and the bottom hem for the dress.  That will save you a lot of time and grief if you can use both.  (So, if you’re making a dress for a smaller child, look for a size small shirt that’s shorter.  Make sense?)




So first, I used a Tshirt that fits my little girl as a guide and then cut the main shape of the dress.  (***If you haven’t done this much, it’s easiest to make paper patterns first and be sure they are the size you need before cutting into your fabric.  I don’t use paper patterns much anymore but I have had lots of practice.  But even still, I still sometimes mess up and wish I would have taken the time to make a paper pattern.)


Be sure that the neck line on the front piece and the back piece comes together at both sides and that the shoulder section along the top is the same width on the front piece as it is on the back piece.   (Need more help and description?  Visit the re-purposing section of my blog here to see other ideas.


Then angle out the sides of the dress to an A-line, to give the dress some more room.  Be sure to add extra fabric on all edges for your seam allowance.


Then make your sleeves from the sleeves of the shirt by using her original Tshirt as a guide.  Be sure to add extra fabric for your seam allowance.  (Make sure the curve of the sleeve is the same length as the length of the curve of the arm opening on the dress piece.)



Next, cut a heart shape out of the front piece of the dress.


And then use the shape you cut out as a guide to cut a new heart out of some woven cotton fabric (which doesn’t stretch and will make this next part a lot easier). Be sure to cut the heart out about 3/4 of an inch bigger around all edges.


Then cut several strips out of your Tshirts (or knit fabric), whatever size you’d like.  My strips were about 3/4 of an inch wide…..but this can vary, depending on taste and the size of heart.  And for the length, make then about 2-2.5 times longer than the area that they will be sewn to.  So if your heart is 7 inches wide at the top, make your strip about 14 – 18 inches long.  Then start gathering in your strips and sew them right down to your heart, sewing right on top of the basting stitch that gathered up your strip.  (Need help with gathering?  Click here.) 


Once all your strips are sewn down, trim off the extra fabric around the edges of your heart.


Then slide your heart to the inside of your shirt so that it peeks through the heart window.  Then pin it in place, being sure that you aren’t stretching the heart opening at all. 


Then sew all the way around the heart, attaching it to the front section of the dress.  Then sew another seam right next to the first, securing it in place.  Make sure that you are catching the edges of the heart underneath as you’re sewing.  (TIP:  While sewing around the heart, your top fabric will most likely stretch.  Sew very slowly and lift and lower your presser foot often.  Using a needle to help keep the top fabric in place and guiding it under the needle really helps.)


Here’s a view from the front and back of heart, sewn onto the front dress piece.  Done.


Using a straight stitch, sew your front and your back piece together at the shoulders, with right sides together.  (Use whatever seam allowance you gave yourself when originally cutting the pieces out.)  Then zig-zag the edges. Do the same to both shoulders.

**TIP: While sewing with knit, if your fabric is bunching or pulling a bit, increase your stitch length just a bit.  And also lift up your presser foot and adjust often.


Now open up the dress to the RIGHT side and pin your sleeve to your dress, RIGHT side down.  Match up the the curve of the sleeve to the to the arm hole opening on the dress.  Pin in place.  (Sometimes stretching the edge of the sleeve or the dress to make them match up correctly, will help.)


Sew both in place and then zig-zag.


Now, fold the dress together and match up the side seams.  Always start at the sleeve and then continue along to the side to the bottom, in one continuous seam.  Do the same to both sides.  Then zig-zag the raw edges.



Now, don’t forget to turn right side out and iron and steam your seams open.  (Don’t pull and stretch while ironing.  Just lift and press down.)  This will help any minimal stretching or rippling that occurred while sewing.



And that’s it. 


A sweet little Ruffled Heart Dress.




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 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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  1. Carmen says:

    Hola ,me encanta todo lo que haces .
    Las explicaciones muy bien .

  2. fariba says:

    so beautiful design .thank u

  3. monaz says:

    thank you so much ,i love it

  4. Homecharms says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial!
    It was so easy to make and my toddler is very fond of her new dress!

  5. Paula Kathlyn says:

    I love this! Posted it on my blog’s facebook page…thank you for sharing!

  6. Jennifer Dawn says:

    Love this. As the sewing contributor for Making the World Cuter, I’m featuring this in a Valentine’s Day Roundup posting soon. :) Hopefully it will bring lots of traffic your way.

  7. Cw says:

    Amazing you really have talent!!!!

  8. sidra says:

    all ideas are absolutely wonderful and neat stiching and describe everything in detail. Thanks for making this very interesting

  9. sepide says:


  10. Kiki says:

    This is great!! My daughter’s school has a super strict dress code (solid color shirts only-it gets boring really quick). So I’ve started to embellish her tees with tone on tone accents like flowers and such (lots of moms are doing it). This will be so new and different! I can’t wait to make a few and experiment with different shapes :)

  11. Abi Hunter says:

    I love this! i’ve made myself and adult version, photos here

  12. Avin Bailey says:

    OMG I am addicted to your site…. I love all the things i am seeing. I can’t wait to start sewing! I have two girls, in two weeks one will be three and the other will be 6 1/2 months. I am super excited, I will be spending my summer repurposing old t-shirts and sweaters…. by the way if you need a place to send your hand-me downs consider my house your spot!!!!

  13. laura @corner house says:

    I love this idea. I it is so cute and I love that is it totally cute for valentines, but also just cute for everyday.

  14. Moriah says:

    When working on one of these for my little sister, I came up with a tutorial to fix the too-wide neckline on the shirt that I made into a dress for her. I’d love it if you checked it out! –

  15. Corey~livingandloving says:

    loved the tutorial. I made one for my little honey. I cute the ruffles too wide though. It was a good learning experience. Thanks!

  16. Tracie says:

    Yet another great find on your blog – I love it! I made this for my 5yo daughter today (nothing like waiting til the last minute) and it turned out perfect!! She took one look at it, made a surprised face, and said, “Mom, you’re a genius!” haha I happily took the credit for making it, but told her I learned about it on the computer. She is thrilled to have something special to wear to school tomorrow – thanks!!

  17. Kimberly says:

    I saw your dress on Pinterest – so adorable and fun! Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial with us! I used it to fancy up a plain denim jumper my daughter had.

  18. Ashley @ The Latest Find says:

    This is very cute! Just pinned it!! Thanks for the tutorial! =)

  19. Twins Squared says:

    Hi there. I just wanted to thank you again for the awesome tutorial. I made up a couple of these for my girls and they love them. I posted about them here and linked back to you! :)

  20. Twins Squared says:

    I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful tutorial. I made up a couple of these for my girls and they love them! I posted about them here and linked back to you of course! :)

  21. Leigh Ann says:

    Thank you for the tutorial! I made two and posted them here -

  22. Magen says:

    Super cute! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Cindy Friesen says:

    I am totally going to make one for my neice!

  24. Shary says:

    I love this! So simple and cute!

  25. Twins Squared says:

    I pinned this a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I snagged up some knit shirts today and will be making these for my little girls. Thanks so much for the tutorial! :)

  26. Nathalie says:

    Can’t wait to make one of these! Thank you!

  27. Janna says:

    I made one today for my 5 year old :) It turned out great. I had an XL tshirt (grey) on hand that I had bought for 1.49 on clearance at Target over a year ago and used an Old Navy shirt of mine that was too big (pink). Love how it turned out. I was a little worried as I made it while she was at school and couldn’t try it on her as I went, but it was a big surprise when she got home from school and it fit great! Thanks for the tutorial!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Do you sell any of your tshirt dresses?

  29. Karen says:

    Love, love, love the Valentine dress! Thanks for the instructions.

  30. Sarah Pope says:

    Great tutorial. One of the best I have seen in a long time. You do a great job explaining and help by showing a lot of pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Gina S says:

    What a cute dress! I am a bit confused on the instruction to zig zag the raw edges and then steam open the seams. If I zig zag the raw edges, won’t my seams be sewn shut in a manner in which would make steaming them open impossible? Forgive my sewing newness. I’ve made purses and blankets, but am just starting to make clothing.

    1. Ashley says:

      Good question…….let me clarify. Turn the dress right side out and then steam the seam open. This will just flatten it out from the outside and make it look nice and flat. It doesn’t matter what the zig-zag edge does on the inside but most likely it will lay to one side or the other. Does that make more sense?

      Good luck!

  32. Lynda says:

    If you trace your heart outline onto freezer paper and iron it onto the dress, it will stabilize the knit and provide a line for you to straight stitch along. After you pull away the paper, you can cut about 1/4 inch inside the stitched outline for the opening. This way your knit doesn’t stretch out of shape and you have a stabilized line to follow if you want to use a decorative stitch around the heart.

  33. Jenny says:

    I think I will have to do this for every holiday! PRECIOUS!

  34. Shannon says:

    I am in love with your blog! You have the cutest ideas. Thank you so much for sharing it with the rest of the world.

  35. Donna Baker says:

    My daughter instantly fell in love with this picture & asked if I could make 1 for her. I had just acquired a pink tank top (that my husband brought home in a big bag of clothes for us to go through) that is too small for me so I am going to re-purpose it into a top for her…also using old t-shirts that I have been hanging onto for just such a project. Thanks for the idea!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Just finished the shirt for my daughter…..she LOVES it!!! It’s not as good as yours but I gave it a try & she LOVES it…so that’s all that really matters, right?!?

  36. Jessica says:

    Wow, that came out beautiful. You are truly a talented seamstress. Wish I had time I would make one for myself. Your daughter is adorable!

  37. sebnem says:


  38. Anahi says:

    where do you get your clothing labels? i’ve started making my own clothes and would love to get some!

  39. Alix of Bigbluebed says:

    This is such a wonderful idea and your tutorial is great. Pretty girl too. I will try and make this for my girl, who at 8 is not so little but will love it just the same.

    Thank you.


  40. Kristin says:

    oh my goodness…thins is so so beautiful…want it tooo for my girl.
    Well done.

    lovely regards Kristin

  41. doro K. says:

    that’s just super cute!
    my girl would love it!!

    I linked to your tutorial on my blog – thanks for sharing!

    doro K.

  42. Anonymous says:

    It is so cute!!! Love it :)

  43. kreativkäfer Andrea says:

    this is awesome!!!!! thanks for sharing,

  44. Destynee says:

    Cute, cute! Ashley, have you ever done a post regarding sewing knit fabric? I am a pretty accomplished seamstress, but still shy away from knit…just because! I think I would be more apt to use it if I was better informed as to stitch settings, tips, etc., and since a lot of your tutes are with knit fabric, I just look at them, but never try them. I am sure I am not the only one who would greatly benefit from such a post! Thanks for your blog – I check is almost daily!

  45. Cheme' says:

    Just this morning my 7 year old was complaining that she didn’t have any shirts in her closet. One of her unwearable shirts was a plain pink tshirt. She didn’t like just a plain shirt. We cut a heart in it and sewed some ruffles this evening. It only took about an hour and that was with her help. She is super excited to wear it to school tomorrow. Thanks for an awesome tutorial and an awesome website!

  46. dawn says:

    adorable! my 6 yr old would love it-along with the tights and shoes-so cute! thanks for sharing!

  47. Lacey says:

    I am in love! I have 3 girls and they would eat this dress up!!! Thanks for sharing!

  48. Andi S says:

    I just love it! I’m hoping I have enough time to make one for my niece before Valentine’s Day. She would just love it!

  49. Rachelle says:

    wow! so lovely, so quick, so glad I finally have a daughter! thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  50. Nicki says:

    SO cute. And so easy!

  51. Melissa says:

    LOVE this and had to share on our facebook page! xxoo

  52. katie s says:

    oh my goodnight this is cute!! PINNED!!!!

  53. Jennifer says:

    I can not get over how adorable this is!!! I don’t even have kids but I want on for SOMEONE!

  54. rhonda says:

    man my 6 year old would looooove one of these! so cute!

  55. Anne says:

    This is fantastically adorable! Love the red stitching around the heart!

  56. Christy says:

    This is AWESOME!! I can’t wait to make my daughter one. Thanks so much.

  57. Colleen J. says:

    I just found this and your blog from pinterest and repined it! Love it!!

  58. Amy W. says:

    Your daughter looks so much like you! I have a mini me too. She loves your tutorials :)

  59. Beth says:

    This is SO freaking adorable! I have 3 sons so I guess I will just have to make a tee for myself. I’m not kidding, I am seriously going to make one…thanks for the tutorial! Smiles~Beth

  60. Monica says:

    This is so great. I need to hit up the thrift store for some jersey knit!

  61. Christine says:

    So cute. Two questions:
    1.) What is the reason for zigzagging after straight stitching? I have a VERY old Singer that I have to use an attachment for zigzagging, so if I could skip this, it would be a lot easier.

    2.) Where did you find the cute heart tights?

    1. Ashley says:

      I zig-zag to finish off the raw edges nicely and to secure the seam. (You don’t want all your work to come unraveled after a few washes or one popped seam.) You can actually just do another straight stitch right next to the first……that would be sturdier than just one single line of stitching.

      And the heart tights I just found at WalMart in the Girl section (not the toddler section).

      Hope that helps!

  62. Mary Jo Vick says:

    I am totally doing this… thank you. And I pinned it, too. Your tutorials are really easy to follow. And the photography is great… so, thanks again!

  63. Emily says:

    Just darling!!

  64. Katie says:

    Great idea. It’s adorable. And your little girl is such a sweetie. She’s so much bigger now (compared to when I first started reading your blog years ago). Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  65. Crystal says:

    Love this cue affordable dress. I have a little sister and niece the same age so I think I will make them one. Love it

  66. Amy says:

    LOVE IT!!!!! I MUST MAKE ONE!!!!!

  67. Lyndsey says:

    You have the BEST ideas and I love sharing them with my friends. Thanks again for all of the FANTASTIC things you post!

  68. Tabatha says:

    LOVE it! Wish I was half as talented as you are!

  69. Colette says:

    So adorable! I love the heart tights too!

  70. Jessica says:

    LOVE this! Vanessa from V and Co. did a pillow like this last year, but I think I’d be more likely to make this dress!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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