Baby things · Beginner sewer · Marty's Posts · Recycle · Serger Projects · Sewing

Make a girls dress from what’s in your closet!

I’m so excited to share my version of the “Dress shirt/T-shirt  up-cycle” I  made this weekend for my granddaughter. I found some different versions of each on Pinterest, but wanted to combine them for my own cute creation!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted and it’s long past time to get back at it. We got Sarah and her family packed up and re-located in the upper Midwest. I kept telling her she was headed to winter, and it has been warmer and sunnier there than it has been in California over the the last two weeks! And WHO says it never rains in California? It’s been raining steady and the reservoirs are filling!

So, what to do this rainy weekend? What could be better than digging in my stash and making something fun! No shopping, no cost. Nothing but sunny results!

It really started a couple of months ago, when a friend asked me to make a dickey and cuffs to wear with her favorite sweater. What remained was the body of a pretty, crisp, white shirt. I knew it would make a great skirt for a little girl’s dress! I also had a stripped cotton t-shirt from last summer that I didn’t like. However I just knew it would be happy to be up-cycled!

The dress tutorial I started with was here. There are also many examples of up-cycled men’s shirts on Pinterest to provide inspiration!


  • Women’s blouse
  • cotton knit T-shirt
  • 6-8 one-half-inch buttons
  • Thread for seams and topstitching
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (for pockets)
  • Sewing machine and opt. serger

Steps to complete:

  1. Lay blouse flat and cut straight across from armpit to armpit. Decide on your finished length. If the blouse has a straight hem (or only a slight dip), use that for your finished hem and cut extra length from the top. Mine had quite a dip in the hem, so I cut it off straight, leaving short vents in he side seams, and made a new narrow hem.
  2. Lay t-shirt flat, cut sleeves off along seam lines, cut shoulder seams and open both side seams. Save all pieces.
  3. Follow instructions (above) to print dress top pattern. Cut 4 front and 2 back (on fold) from the cotton knit t-shirt front and back pieces. Make sure you match stripes, if your t-shirt has stripes, as mine did. Next, follow the same tutorial (link above) to construct the top of the dress.
  4. Cut small, rounded pockets (think ‘little hands’) from the diagonal along the neckline, using the ribbed edge for the top edge of the pocket.
  5. Cut interfacing to fit on pockets and apply as directed by interfacing instructions. Sew a basting stitch 1/2″ in from edge, leaving tails of thread at each end. Pull bobbin thread slightly to form nice curved corners and turn edge to inside along basting stitch. Press. Place on dress bottom and topstitch in place. (You will see that I closed the blouse placket and attached the top first, which made it more cumbersome to attach the pockets.)image
  6. Decide if you wish to keep the old blouse buttons on the dress bottom. I did not, so removed them. I then closed the front placket of the old blouse (now new skirt piece) by closing and topstitching over the old stitching.
  7. With the blue and white colors, this looked like a sailor dress to me. So, instead of gathering the top edge of the skirt piece, I made pleats to fit the top piece. Measure the finished bottom edge of the top, and figure two pleats per side in front and four pleats in the back. I tried to fold over the darts, as best I could.
  8. Placing right sides together, pin top to bottom, matching front center, back center and side seams. This is best done with a serger, but a regular machine is fine to seam it and then finish the edge. Press seam and pleats.
  9. Sew on the happiest buttons you can find! Mine were in an assorted package I bought at Walmart for doll dresses. Because the dress has plenty of room to go over a little girl’s head, I skipped the buttonholes and just closed the top placket by sewing on the buttons. Sew them over the buttonholes on the dress skirt.


  10. Buy an airline ticket to see your grand baby and have her model her new dress!

Rainy days are best spent with friends who play cards, a good book OR a sewing machine and a good imagination!

Happy sewing!


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