{ sewing } t-shirt to tiny dress refashion
{ good good stuff } the Craft Hope Book

{ tutorial } tee-to-tot sundress

As promised....

That cute shirt in your closet?  The one that doesn't fit right or you're just done wearing or from that special vacation?  Don't put it in the Donate pile just yet.  Time for refashion. Tee-to-Tot Sundress style!

Let's go!


Tee?  Scissors?  Elastic Thread?  Coordinating Thread?  Check? Check! (click on any of these photos to enlarge.)

1. Lay your tee flat, keeping in mind the where the design will hit the shirring.  This was a fitted ladies medium.


2. Cut off the arms, and continue down to create an a-line from the body of the shirt. 

3. Stitch up the side seams & trim.  If I were one of the cool kids and had a serger, I would do that on the sides as well.  But I don't.  And that's okay. 


4. Time to Shirrrrr!  Wind your elastic thread around your bobbin -- not too tightly -- and thread it through the machine as normal.  I would switch your stitch to Elastic or a narrow Zig-Zag to keep the extra elasticity of the knit.  If it doesn't matter to you because the shirring will be enough stretchiness, you can do a straight stitch.  Totally up to you. 

I started at a side seam and went around and around until I had about 4 inches of rows, with about 3/8 inch in-between.  Some people mark lines; I use my presser foot as a guide instead because I'm lazy.  When you are done, iron the shirred part.  Wooohooo!  It shrinks up even more.  It's like a magic trick!  Fun.

5.  Resist the urge to shirr everything in your closet.  {I mean it.}   And I also meant what I said about the serger.  I do a lot of sewing and I have never felt I couldn't tackle a project without one.  That's all.


6.  You'll have these wonderful wonky pieces left over.  Cut the folded hemmed sleeves as close to the hem stitch as possible.  I decided to overstitch the sides of them with a pink zigzag, just for contrast.  I love to 'lettuce-edge' my knits for wee ones.  If you pull on the fabric as you are overstitching, it will create this ripply effect.  Really, it will rock your world.

7. I did not get fancy when I attached these new straps to the front.  I estimated where they should go, as Wonderbaby was sleeping, and stretched the shirred part out a bit while I was sewing them on.  I am lucky they did not end up entirely in her armpits.  I would recommend trying it on strapless first.  ;)


8.  My shirt was way too long for 13-mo-Wonderbaby.  I used another one of her dresses as a guide for length, chopped it off, and overstitched again. 


And that, my dears, is it.

10.  Grab a chair and do a photoshoot!





Bonus round:

Use your leftovers and the same general techniques to make a matching headband:


Have fun!  And let me see what you're up to, 'k? 



Sarah :: greenclogs

now I wish I had a cute shirt to cut up! It might be time for a visit to last chance.


Stop killing me with photos of that sweet babe! Love her! (and you!) xo


cute, cute, cute!!


I did something very similar, but much more basic!, for my nieces last week. I had three t-shirts in the Goodwill pile that I thought would be so cute as something else. So I cute them right under the armpits, sewed a casing for some elastic, threaded the elastic through and made some cute little comfy skirts. For the littlest one I had to take a couple inches off each side but that was easy peasy. They loved them! And so did my sisters. They both wanted one too! :) I'll have to try the dress next!

chris carleton

Cute idea, Kelly!  Is there anything more comfy than a lived in t-shirt???  (Esp in this heat... I might have to find a big shirt to cut up for myself now... )  The shirts in our Goodwill pile are always nervous in this house.

~miss chris


Love your tutorial!! I will have to try this one, but I must find some elastic thread first. Where did you purchase it?

chris carleton

Thank you, Erin!  I have purchased the elastic thread at Joanns before, but I also happened across two huge spools at a thrift store recently for 15 cents each.  xo

UK lass in US

How sweet! Hmm, so other people donate / refashion their old t-shirts rather than still hanging on to shirts worn back in their university days which will never fit over a post-childbirth body, huh? Maybe it's time that I went through my closet...


That is too cute! Once again you have me wishing I liked to sew. Oh and that my daughter was 1 instead of 10!


Beautiful. I will be doing that for my bubba this spring. Thanks for sharing!


Thank you for the tute and the cute model pictures. So sweet!


Wow, that's fantastic! Thanks so much for the great tutorial! I'll be linking.


Thank you so much for the tutorial! I had a t-shirt in my pile of potential refashions, and this worked perfectly! My 14 mo is wearing her new dress today & it's adorable - can't wait to make more! BTW, your daughter is beautiful!


Love it! Looks like the UpCycled dresses I have been selling in my Etsy shop. Yours turned out so cute :)

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