Tutorial: Easy t-shirt dress!

Hey there! I just finished my first ever t-shirt dresses! They were SO fun to make! My first one taught me a lot, like don’t sew the shirt and skirt on inside out! *palm to forehead*…. But I survived and learned a lot! My second one I had finished in like 15 minutes! I am by no means an expert, I only sew for my kids, so my edges aren’t perfect, I get strings hanging out, but that’s all part of the fun, right?! lol… Okay, on to the Tutorial…

You will need :
1- snug fitting t-shirt or tank (preferably cotton, im not a fan of the ribbed tanks), I used a Garanimals one from Walmart, lol…
2- 1 to 1.5 yards of fabric, generally 44in wide
3-pins, thread, scissors & a ruler/measuring tape

To determine how much fabric you will need measure the child from the armpit, down to about the top of the knee. That will be your length of fabric. To determine the width, use the following:
*0-12mths 33in width
*18mths-3t use full length of fabric, generally 44in
*4t-5t use 1.5 yrds in width
*For bigger sizes, add .25 to .50 of fabric

You want a nice ruffle, these are the measurements I went by. If you want a real dramatic ruffle, just add more to the width of the fabric. You can use 2 pieces of fabric as well for the front and back. I had one continuous piece so I just used that…

First cut your shirt. I cut both mine (2t & 5t) 3 inches down from the armpit. I wanted to add the 4×4 sailboat design so I needed a little more room. You can easily cut it at 1 in or 2in depending on the look you want…

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Then I took my top half and prepared it for hooping…. I fold my shirts in half and lightly press it with my iron to make a nice guideline for me right down the middle, then I put a pin at the top and bottom of the line….

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I then appliqued my top, you can find a detailed tutorial on that HERE

Now to continue with the dress….

When you get your fabric cut it will be one large rectangle


Put PRETTY sides together and sew or serge up the side to create one continuous piece of fabric, like a “tube”

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Press your seam flat


If you have a serger, serge the bottom and top of the skirt….


Now bring your skirt to your sewing machine and sew a gathering stitch about a quarter inch from the top. Use a straight stitch, lengthen your stich as far as it will go. Stitch along the TOP of the skirt, DO NOT do a tack back stitch… (I serged my top first, but do this 2nd, lesson learned)


Then pull the threads to make gathers, gently moving the gathers down the fabric to your desired size…


Then slide your shirt pretty side up, so pretty sides of shirt and fabric are together and pin. ( I messed this step up in my 1st one and sewed my shirt on inside out, lol)  Line up your side seams from the skirt and shirt… You may need to adjust your gathers to fit the shirt width…

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Take it to your machine and straight stitch or zigzag them together…


Then serge your edges… *its okay if you don’t have a serger, just skip those steps*



If you have any loose serger threads, grab a needle with a large eye, like an upholstery needle and thread the tail through it, and thread the tail back into the serged edges to hide the tail. ( I learned that trick from Mrs. Darlene Cahill )

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If you want to finish the bottom with a hem, fold your bottom edges up about a quarter inch and straight stitch…


Flip your shirt right side out and you are done!


Again, I’m not an expert, but I hope this tutorial helps you and inspires you to make some of your own!
The applique design used is my Heart Sailboat and can be found on my website http://www.hookedonapplique.com !
Happy Stitching!

Hooked On Applique



6 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy t-shirt dress!

  1. I made my 3 year granddaughter,MaKenna one for July 4th! Turned out so cute! I used a tanktop and chevron material, red, white and blue! Monogrammed her initials on the back of the tanktop. I used Navy tanktop and monogrammed initials in whitex

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