Thursday, August 18, 2011

You Are My Sunshine Dress -- A T-shirt Refashion & Tutorial

What makes me happy when skies are gray? This little girl does, and so does this dress I made for her.

It reminds me of rays of sunshine, so I decided to call it the You Are My Sunshine dress. 

A while back, you may recall, my mom gave me a bag of her old shirts. First, I made this dress: Upcycled T-shirt Dress. I've been meaning to make another one, and I finally got around to making it. Several people mentioned that they'd be interested in a little more in-depth tutorial, so this time I took pictures. I did a few things differently this time, but I'll try to make note of that in the tutorial.

Start with a t-shirt.

Fold the shirt sort of in half, thinking about how wide you want the dress to be. Cut along one side of the shirt (leaving one side seam intact).

Still keeping it folded, determine how long you want your dress. Cut it off straight at the top, then make arm holes by cutting a sort of J shape.

Remember, you are leaving one seam intact, so when you open it up, it will look like this.

To make casings, fold down the top of both the front of the back. Knit doesn't ravel, so you could just fold it down once. I wanted a little more finished look, so I folded it twice.

Stitch along the bottom fold, leaving each end open (you'll be inserting elastic later). I also wanted a little ruffling effect across the top, so I did another row of stitches.

When I made the first dress, I wanted the ruffles to extend over the side seams and cross from the front a little onto the back. So I didn't do the ruffles until after I had done the side seams. For this dress, I wanted the ruffles to come out of the side seam, so I added them first. To make the ruffles, I cut 1-inch strips from the remaining t-shirt fabric. Then I used the magic ruffle technique (put your tension as high as it will go and your stitch length as long as it will go. Stitch down the middle of the strip, and it will magically ruffle for you).

Next, I arranged the ruffles how I wanted them and pinned them down. I stitched down the center of each one to attach it to the dress. I used a zig-zag stitch because that allows for a little more stretch.

Then I pinned the side seam right sides together and stitched the side seam with a straight stitch.
Trim the uneven edges.

Then sew a zig-zag or over-edge stitch to reinforce the seam.

Turn it right side out and admire your work so far.

At this point, I still had one ruffle strip left over, so I decided to add it to the neckline. I just stitched it on below the casing.

Insert some 1/4 inch elastic. Stitch it down on one end, then figure out how long you want it to be and stitch it down on the other side, gathering the fabric along the elastic.

There wasn't enough t-shirt left to make the straps, so I used an old white t-shirt instead. I cut 2-inch strips, folded each side into the middle and pressed. Then I folded it down the middle and pressed it. Basically, you're making double-fold bias tape (but with knit, you don't really need to worry about cutting it on the bias). Note: you could just fold the strip of knit in half and leave the raw edges exposed. That's what I did on the first dress.

Pin the strip onto the armhole, sandwiching the dress fabric between the strip. Sew carefully along the edge from end to end, making sure to catch all the layers. Make sure you sew all the way from one end to the other--the rest of the strip is going to be the ties/straps. (Confession: there were a few places where I missed the bottom layer of the strip, so I just went back and sewed in those spots. Not exactly the neatest method, but who's going to be studying my little girl's dress that closely?)

And there you go! A cute and comfy dress for your little one.

And here are some more shots of the dress in action. Miss Eliza was not in the mood for posing for me.
"I can't hear you, Mommy!"

These last three were taken at the park at the end of the day. It had been a long day of playing, getting messy, and eating peaches, so the dress was a wee bit dirty. Well-used and loved already!

If you make anything following this tutorial, I'd love to see it! And as always, be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

A few more dresses will be coming soon!

Until next time,


I linked up at:


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