A T-Shirt Dress

The summer clothes wardrobe is out, dear friends, and it is lacking. My girlies who are seven and five positively live for their summer clothes -- so much so that I have to hide shorts and bathing suits lest they run around in them in the winter! Last week I pulled out the summer bin and it is clear that my oldest daughter's selection of summer play dresses is non-existant and that simply won't do.

Enter, the t-shirt dress?

It's been roughly a million years since I've worked with knits but gosh darn it they are so deliciously light and soft and play-worthy that I felt compelled to pick some up and give 'em a shot.  At Target I grabbed a $5 tee (Cherokee brand, in case you care to know) and then the kiddos and I went to Hancock and picked out a matching knit for the skirt.  Feeling lazy, I also purchased a $2 knit dress pattern to pirate for the skirt.

As luck would have it, the dress pattern was exactly the same size as the t-shirt I had purchased and I didn't have to alter the size of the skirt pattern pieces to match the tee!  And since it was a perfect match, I went ahead and cut the bottom of my tee to match the front and back pattern pieces where the waist would meet the skirt.

Sadly the yard of 60" knit fabric I bought (knit is so expensive!!!), was not wide enough to accommodate the length of skirt we wanted, and I had to make the skirt pattern narrower.

One method to narrow a skirt is to slash the pattern up to the waistline and overlap it at the hem.  This adjusts the waistline properly and keeps the "swing" of the skirt the same way the pattern intended it to be.  You can take the extra off of the sides of the skirt but that can change the way the skirt hangs and I didn't want to take that chance.

Incidentally, the knit had a one-way print. (This post explains a one-way print.) I pretended not to notice, (aka, cut it like it was a two-way print) while mentally chiding the laziness and greediness of that darn design company!  Seriously, they couldn't have taken thirty seconds to turn a few of those flower motif's upside down so that it could be cut both directions?  Criminal.

Anyway, in the spirit of embracing the knit, I picked up a special stretch twin needle.  Such novelty!  I had taken a gander at these pointers on sewing with knits and found them super helpful.  However, when I tried the twin needle with the walking presser foot, this sort of thing kept happening on the back:

Horrible dropped stitches no matter what tension I used.  So I got rid of the walking presser foot and the problem went away.


*Updated to add -- Using the double needle on the waist seam was a mistake because the hanging fabric of the skirt pulled the "stretch" stitches until they showed.  I'll be using the triple-stitch stretch stitch setting (say that three times fast!) on my machine with a single needle for waistlines from now on.*

Can you tell by the pics that I was sewing by candlelight?  Just kidding.  It was a real light -- at midnight ;o).

You had better believe I was very careful not to run over a pin. No need for a broken double needle crisis.

I turned the fabric up just once for the hem and pressed it after this last picture was taken.

I aspire to take Pinterest worthy pictures, CLEARLY.

I tried making some sort of waistband fanciness with the extra fabric from the t-shirt, but it didn't seem right and I ditched it for the simple look, as modeled here by it's new owner:

Um, no, those are not her glasses!  But she would look cute in them, now wouldn't she?

Roo has declared this dress "SO SOFT" and has decided to wear it forever.  Also, it appears to be stuffed animal approved.


Now, as to whether or not I'll be making more of these dresses?  Yes, definitely!  With tank tops too.

The total cost of this one with the shirt, fabric, and thread (we won't count the pattern and needle since those are general supplies) was about $15.  That's a bit steep in my opinion, especially for something I then have to make!  But I can see using thrifted tees and thrifted fabric (from XL women's shirts) to do the same thing for a fraction of that.

My girls would be over the moon.

And now that I'm all set up to make more knit stuff, I see summer nightgowns in our future.


On a side note, this was not a quick make for me.  It seems sewing is not necessarily a faster enterprise the more you know.  Or am I over-thinking things?  Is this a universal problem or is it me?


  1. pinterest worthy pictures? yeah, me too.... you crack me up!

    Dress is cute :-) Thanks for the reminder to take the width out of the middle ~ I know that's the 'proper' way, but I lately I've taken the easy route and just added or subtracted from the sides - I didn't think about how it would change the curve at the waist and make it hang properly. You is so smart :-)

    I've had great success adding quilting cotton to turn t-shirts into dresses.(hobby lobby's brother sister brand is especially nice for this purpose - quality is good and there are lots of designs to choose from, and the price is right!) (here's one I made: http://pursuingjoy.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-dress-and-dresdens.html )
    Through 6/7 yrs old, you can get away with using length x WoF, but older than that, probably need to buy double the length you need, 'cause 42 inches around isn't probably enough....
    That said - an all knit dress is probably more comfy ;-)

    I've *never* been a speedy seamstress, but no - knowing more and having more experience under my belt hasn't really proven to help me speed up ANY. I tell myself it's because my attention to detail and the quality of my work is improving ;-)
    Take care ~ Tracy

    1. Ack! I'm late in getting to the combox!

      Tracy, I LOVED what you did with that birthday tee. The colors matched perfectly which impresses me to no end as that is the only reason I chose a plain colored top for mine -- I didn't trust my ability to find a cute combo!

      The other day a mom friend came over and my daughter was wearing this dress and the mom said "Did you make that dress? I can tell. You should put some lace around the waistband or something." And of course that got my panties in a twist because I know my stuff isn't amazing, but I hate for it to LOOK homemade. Sheesh!

      Anywho, thanks for stopping by -- hope you are sewing something fabulous and fun ;)

    2. that was such a tacky thing to say. I don't think it looks home made at all! (and - you have made some amazing things!!) Adding lace to the waist?! Now, THAT would look homemade...
      (I generally start w the shirt, then find the fabric to go with it)

      Speaking of fun sewing ~ I am :-) I started a new quilt and I am having a BALL playing with fabric! So much of my sewing has been for others lately, and while I do love to bless people w my sewing, there's an added pressure to it, so it's nice to just play! That said - I reeeaally need to make the girls and I some clothes...

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