Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Tute: A Shirt Dress (from an adult shirt)

Repurposing dress shirts has become quite popular.  Our female news anchor had a blouse with this ruffle detail on it last week, I had this cute paisley shirt in my stash, Curly needed clothes, and I had a free hour this past week.  All of these things equal a chance to create our own version of the repurposed shirt dress.   We made our's short sleeved with the intent to layer it over a long sleeved shirt or under a sweater.  Layering will allow us to use this dress year round.  When it gets too short it will be worn as a tunic.  Her belt is made by braiding ribbon and lace.

A dress shirt  If you are creating a dress, make sure the shirt you start with is long enough.
An a-line dress pattern or template  I used an a-line dress from her closet.
Sewing supplies


1. Using a seam ripper, remove the top portion of the collar. And, carefully remove the pocket. Steam iron any marks (holes) left from the pocket seam.  The pocket seam will "fade" away. (not pictured)

2. Lay pattern/template on top of buttoned shirt.  Center the pattern on to the center of the shirt.  Make sure the collar of the pattern matches up with the collar of the shirt.

3. **Make sure to leave 1/4" seam allowance when you cut.** Cut an arm curve to match the arm curve of your template. You can find the arm curve of a dress by folding back the dress to the sleeve seam. Cut around the remaining sides of the template/pattern.

 Dress cut out.

 4. Using the sleeve portion of the shirt, lay on a sleeve pattern/template, and cut out a sleeve. To add fullness to a sleeve pattern (for gathering room), move the pattern about 1" from the sleeve folded edge.  It's easiest to cut the sleeve with shirt sleeve folded and by folding the template or pattern in half.

 5. Lay the sleeve you've cut onto the second sleeve and cut a second sleeve.

6. Cut 1" strips on the bias so that the edges of the strips needn't be hemmed.  Gather the strips down the center.  You can also use lace or ribbon to create the ruffles.

 7. Place and pin ruffles into place.  Placing the ruffles into three rows makes a nice effect.  I only had room for two on each side.  Curly is quite narrow.  It's hard to see in the photos, but the outside ruffle row is shorter than the inside row. 

 8.  Using a small zigzag, stitch down the ruffle trim.

 9.  Hem bottom sleeve edge for each sleeve.

 10.  Gather the center third of the top edge of each sleeve.

 11.  Stitch sleeve into shirt.  Repeat for the other sleeve.

 The sleeve looks like this when sewn in.

 12.  Starting at the bottom edge of the sleeve, stitch the underarm of the sleeve through to the bottom edge of the dress.  Repeat for the other side seam.

13. Hem the bottom edge of the dress.

14.  Top stitch closed the top edge of the collar. This is where to removed the pointed collar portion.

Enjoy your new dress.

Happy Sewing!


  1. How tall is she and what was the original size of the shirt? It was very cute, but I need my dd's dresses to be longer. She is almost 4 ft tall. Got any ideas for the adult shirt size to start with?

  2. Jenny,
    Measure from your dd's shoulder to the length you want. Take that measurement and a measuring tape w/you. Size is too unpredictable to go by. Also, be aware of the shirt tail. You may want a straightened hemline. Curly is 48". This was a ladies' large. But, be sure and measure first.

  3. Thanks!
    May I also suggest garage sales and thrift stores to find mens shirts as well.

    Today I bought some fabric to see if I could lengthen a dress I made for my dd as well as make it fuller at the bottom for easier running and playing. I am thinking of adding gores.

    The selection of material I chose reminded me of the fun prints you always choose!


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