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Thursday, July 21, 2011

T-Shirt Upcycle to Toddler Dress

I really love the color of this t-shirt, and it is made of the softest cotton, but alas, the neckline tends to flow further down than I would like--so I made it into a dress for my niece (who is almost 2).  This is one of the easiest ways to make a dress because the side seams and hem are already sewn.

  • t-shirt (should be about double the circumference of the toddler you want to put it on)
  • elastic thread
  • fat eighth (or other material for straps)
  • sewing machine and thread
  • scissors
  1. Cut the t-shirt off under the sleeves (if this is too long, cut the shirt lower, but be sure to NOT cut off the bottom).
  2. Wind the elastic thread onto a bobbin.  My machine can wind it onto the bobbin just fine (it got stuck a couple times, but with a light tug, it went smoothly--still much faster than winding by hand).  I have heard that some machines have problems with this, so you may have to wind by hand.
  3. Place bobbin in machine and thread as normal.  I had some problems when I first started because I wasn't getting the bobbin to thread properly.  Make sure you get the elastic thread through every part it is supposed to go through.
  4. Keep the t-shirt right-side out, and sew a line around the top about 3/8 of an inch from the cut edge (I just lined the edge of my presser foot up with the edge of the fabric).  Be sure to knot, or reverse when you start and finish a line.
  5. Lift your presser foot and more down 3/8 inch from the previous stitch line.  Sew around.  Repeat until you have shirred the desired width.  I sewed 9 lines.
  6. Cut the thread on the side where you moved down each line.
  7. To make the straps I made, cut four strips 1.5 inches wide each.
  8. Fold the strip in half right sides together, and sew down the two long sides 3/8 inch from the edge.
  9. Turn the straps right side out.  I find it easier if I have cut the seam allowance down to about 1/8 inch.
  10. Sew a line down the center of each strap.
  11. Sew the straps onto the dress 1 inch from the sides.
Isn't this so cute?  I made this in about an hour before pool time.  Now go look in your closet, find those shirts you just don't wear, and make some toddler dresses.  You could also use this as a cute shirt for an elementary school girl as well.


  1. Very cute. I love quick and simple projects like this.

  2. Very cute! I love the idea of using a tshirt.

    I would love if you would link up at Blog Stalking Thursday!

  3. what a super cute idea love it come see what I shared at

  4. This looks so easy! We are definitely going to make a few of these with shirts from my recycle pile...


  5. So pretty. I love the smocking. I'd love for you to link up to my feature friday link up.

  6. super super cute! I love the pink accents on the straps!

  7. This is so cute! I've never sewn with elastic thread before, but you make it look so easy, that I might just give it a try!!

    ~ Sarah

  8. This turned out so darling! the color is perfect, I really want to try an elastic thread project... someday! Thank you SO much for showing off, I hope to see you next week!


  9. SO ADORABLE!!! If you get a chance I would love you to link your toddler dress up to More the Merrier Monday. It lasts through Wednesday so you have plenty of time to stop by. See you there.

  10. Cute project! AND you got a blog makeover since I was last here. I love it! So fun and cute!

  11. Cute! What a great idea. I've never used elastic thread before but this looks like a good project to try.

    I'd love for you to stop by and add your fantastic project to our first blog party this Thursday! It's a party specifically for kids' and teens' craft projects and other ideas, so your idea would be perfect! Hope to see you then!

  12. This is great! I always wanted to figure out how to do a top like that! thanks!

  13. Hi,
    I adore this cute dress. You have been featured in Wednesday WordPlay party "Sewing" features because you are awesome.. Come check it out and grab your featured button.. Enjoy! :)

  14. The dress is super cute :) Love the straps and design. Good job.

    We have a link-up party going on - Tea Time Thursdays @ Kreative Korner. I would really appreciate if you'd link up some of your awesome posts there. Hope to see you at the party.

  15. SO pretty!! Would LOVE it if you would link these up at my turquoise lovin' party going on right now!!



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