Thursday, February 7, 2013

T-shirt Dress

When the clever girl goes on field trips with school, she is supposed to wear the school t-shirt.  I get it.  It is much easier to identify all the kids as being in the same group if they are all in the same t-shirt.  However, the clever girl abhors this type of t-shirt.  They are simply not stylish enough for her.  Plus she knows her mom is crafty and can probably do something to make the shirt better.

The clever girl's previous school shirt has gotten too small, plus I made it sleeveless so it wasn't totally appropriate for a field trip in January.  The next sized shirt was a kids 6-8.  The clever girl is a 4 but I went ahead and purchased a 6-8 as I figured it would give me something to work with.  When I brought the shirt home I asked the clever girl to try it on for me.  She immediately started re-designing it.  "The shoulders are too big, Momma", she said, "and it is almost long enough to be a dress!"  (There is nothing the clever girl likes to wear more than dresses).  And when I started taking in the sleeve width, she said "we could put a button there, that would be cute!".  My little designer.

I purchased this black and white knit fabric at Joanns that happened to be reversible - black with white dots on one side, black and white stripes on the other.  I didn't actually intend to purchase reversible fabric, it simply seemed to go with the t-shirt the best.  But boy am I glad it was reversible!  It helped make the outfit even better!

First, I tackled the first problem:  the shoulders.  On the inside of the shirt there was a thin strip of fabric that went around the neckline and covered the shoulder seam.  It appears that most t-shirts have this piece.  I slit the piece open at the neck edge and the shoulder edge, inserted some thin elastic that was 1 inch shorter than the actual shoulder seam, and sewed the slits back up.  This gathered up the shoulders an appropriate amount to be less droopy on my kiddo.

To make a skirt,  I sewed the black dotted fabric into a tube, hemmed one end, and gathered the top.  I am not a very confident sewer with knits, so I skimmed a Craftsy class I had purchased about sewing with knits before even starting.  This helped me figure out what stitch to use and recommended that I use my walking foot.  Yes!  Way better than previous experiences!  I also used some stitch witchery in the hem before sewing, to make it a little easier for me.  I gathered the top of the skirt to meet up with the width of the t-shirt and sewed the skirt to the shirt at around hip level.  I then cut another strip of the black/white fabric to make a sash that would cover the edge of the skirt I just sewed and be a place to thread some elastic to cinch the skirt in to actually fit the clever girl.  I used more stitch witchery to sew down the edges of the black/white fabric, using the striped side this time.  I overlapped the ends in the back by about 1 inch, for the elastic.  I used 1 inch elastic inside of this tube and didn't actually sew this down until I tried it back on the clever girl to make sure I got it right.

Finally, the sleeves.  I took the clever girl's advice and made a double pleat in the end of the sleeve, a half inch fold on each side.  I sewed a black button to the center of the fold.

Then, I decided that the sash really needed a little pizazz, so I made a bow out of the remaining fabric and sewed it to the sash.  

Voila!  A cute dress for my clever girl to wear on field trips.  She was ECSTATIC about the dress and pointed it out to her teacher and all of her friends.  She repeatedly said that she was the ONLY ONE with a dress that day.  She was thrilled.  Honestly, this project took me just a few hours one afternoon to create, and it brought a THRILL to my daughter.

Success!  If you have a boring t-shirt that you want to jazz up, give this a shot!  It was much easier than I expected!


  1. I love this! You make it sound so easy, I think you should give yourself more credit:)

    1. Thanks! It really was easier than I thought it would be!

  2. Cute, cute, cute, and very creative too! Your clever girl is very proud of her t-shirt dress!

    1. Thanks, mom! The clever girl and I are a great team!


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