Monday, March 28, 2011

Child's Shirt to Dress Refashion

We've been spoiled by unusually warm days in Tennessee recently. Of course, they're mixed in with days that are in the 40's and low 50's. Such a tease. As much as I would like to think the warm weather is here to stay, I'm going to stay realistic and plan for warmer weather in May.

With cooler days still ahead, I wanted to share an easy way to make warm clothes for your child. So head to your nearest sale rack and join me for a quick refashion!


  • A shirt several sizes larger than your child (My daughter is in 2T and the shirt I used for this tutorial is a 5T)
  • A men's white undershirt
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Disappearing ink marker
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Long-sleeved shirt in your child's size to use as a guide
Here is the shirt I started with:

I got this shirt in the girl's section of Wal-Mart for $3.00. It's a great shirt, but not so ideal for cold weather. If your shirt has sleeves like mine, first use your seam ripper to take the sleeves off. If not, skip right to the next step. You can also leave your existing sleeves on and sew on long sleeves under it if you prefer.

Step 1: Create your sleeves. Next, take the shirt you're using as a template, and lay the sleeve down on top of the men's undershirt on one of the sides, matching the opening of the waistband like this:

By placing the sleeve on the side of the shirt, and with the opening on the waistband, you have less to hem. Lazy? Yes, but so much easier! Use the disappearing ink marker to trace around the sleeve, making sure to add 1/2 inch more to account for seam allowance. Trace the other sleeve on the opposite side of the men's shirt, making sure to line that sleeve up on the side as well. Cut out both of the sleeves and set aside.

Step 2: Cut off extra width. Turn your shirt inside out and lay your template shirt on top. Measure how many inches you'll need to take off of your purchased shirt, and mark with your disappearing ink pen. Using a zig-zag stitch, stitch down both sides of your shirt from the armpit down. Make sure you leave an extra 1/4-1/2 inch on either side for seam allowance. After sewing, cut off the extra fabric. Your shirt should now be the right size in width as well as in the arm holes.

Step 3: Reduce neckhole size. You may need to reduce the neckhole size as well. If so, turn your shirt inside out and mark a straight line from the sholder to where you want your new neckline to be. Then after making sure the binding on your neckline is lined up, sew straight across starting at the shoulder and ending at the neck opening. Cut off the extra fabric.

Step 4: Create sleeves. Take one of your sleeves that you've cut from your men's shirt, and with the wrong sides together, stitch them together to form a tube, making sure both ends are left unsewn. You shouldn't need to hem them at all if you placed the opening of the hand on the bottom seam of the men's shirt.

Step 5: Sew sleeves to shirt. Turn your shirt inside out. Using straight pins, pin the raw edge of the sleeves (which should be inside out) to the raw edge of the armholes. Use a zig-zag stitch to sew around the sleeves and attach them to the shirt. I actually did this the hard way. Ideally, I should have put the sleeve inside of the shirt and then pinned and sewed it.

Turn your shirt and sleeves inside out, and there you have it, instant dress! When the weather gets warmer, you could always chop off some of the sleeve length to make the dress short-sleeved and add some leggings or capris to complete the outfit.

Now add some tights and let your little one outside to play...or eat some grass like mine decided to do.

I'm linking up here:


  1. Wish I could sew that well, it's all about straight lines for me!

  2. It turned our really cute and looks quick to make too.

  3. So cute! Those tights go perfectly with it.

  4. Great idea to add sleeves! The dress turned out so cute!


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