Blog, Craft, Fashion

Upcycle T-shit to Toddler Dress


 Ever time I see a cute little baby dress I always say to myself “I could just make that”.  And then I never do.  Because tiny dresses come with tiny buttons, tiny buttonholes, tiny snaps, tiny bias neck trim…….and I’m getting tired just listing them off.  So I wanted a dress pattern that was a couple of things: quick to make, as few pieces as possible and cute.  

 Living far from a good fabric store can take it’s toll on a crafty gal.  Sure Joanne fabrics has what you may need in a pinch – but it’s no S.R.Harris (amazing fabric outlet warehouse in MN).  So one of my favorite things to do is to re-purpose clothing to make new clothing.  It’s an easy way to get cute patterns and colors that are hard to come across and it makes each item you create unique.  And there are a lot of features you get to re-use. On this dress, I used the actual t-shirt hem as the dress hem.  I picked this shirt up for this project at a Value Village, so it was only a few dollars.  

I like to draft all my patterns in Adobe Illustrator – its quick to do and then I can re-print them any time I like.  Which also means I can email them and share them with anyone who wants them.  You just need to print it on standard letter paper  (you do have to tape a few pieces together – but it doesn’t take long).  

 I have a serger and enjoy using it – but I wanted this to be a super fast simple dress, which means no switching machines an re-threading with the correct color.  So just a sewing machine will do.

This dress is sized for 12-18months.  I will make more sizes as my little one grows, but I can grade to larger sizes if there is any immediate interest.  It also works well as a tunic with leggings.  My daughter is now 2 years old and this still fits her as a top.

A few things you will need:

1) T-shirt big enough for front/back panels

2) Pattern (printed off and taped together) which you can download for FREE Upcycle Toddler Dress Pattern

3) Sewing machine

4) Elastic (optional)

 Step 1: Cut your pattern out and tape it together.  Cut the T-shirt at the side seam for easier pinning/cutting.  Place the center front of the pattern on the center front of the T-shirt, lining up the bottom edge of the pattern with the bottom edge of the shirt hem (one edge is already done!).  Do the same with the back. If you want elastic at the waist, cut out the elastic waistband from the longest pieces of shirt you can find.  (I had to sew 2 pieces together)

 Step 2: The pattern has 1/2″ seam allowance built in on all sewn edges.  The next is to sew the shoulder seams together.  Because it’s knit, I didn’t bother finishing the edges.  I did press the seams after each step ( I know I sound like your 7th grade sewing teacher) but it really does help to set the seam.

Step 3: Finish the armhole.  I just turned and stitched the armhole openings.

 Step 4: Finish the neck.  I just pressed the neck edge under by the seam allowance and did a zig-zag stitch centered over the cut edge.  This way I didn’t have to do a separate trim and  the zig zag allows for some stretch over the head.  One thing I didn’t know before I had a baby is that babies have giant heads (compared to their cute little shoulders) so its a big deal to make sure that things stretch enough to get on comfortably.    

 This is a closeup of the neck.  You could add a trim, but like I said you may need to add a button/snap closure to the shoulder to make sure that you can get it on/off.

 Step 5: Sew the side seam.  I added the curve back into the side seam with my stitch line that the seam allowance kind of took out.  I will trim the side seam later to allow for better movement.  At the hem that is already in place, sew at a 90 degree angle to the hem.  If you continue the  side seam angle it will be pointy at the bottom.


 If you want to stop there – you are done!  Isn’t it cute?  It makes a really cute tunic paired with leggings as well.

Step 6 (optional): To add a waist band I sewed an internal casing, leaving a small opening to adjust the elastic.  

And here it is complete!  Yay tiny dress!

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