Upcycled T-Shirt Dress

 In Tutorials

Let's Go Blue Jays - cover pic

A T-Shirt tutorial. Upcycle your an adult size shirt into a new kid sundress.

Our first family Blue Jays game!  And the kids loved their FREE souvenir T-shirts almost  as much as the ginormous Popsicles that saw us through the last half of the game.

edited 3 with popsicles

Those popsicle stained shirts turned out to be the perfect souvenir from the game and they were absolutely FREE! Well, I did have to give a fake email address to the cable company for some random promotion. (Don’t judge, we’ve all done it. )

Trouble is, they didn’t want to take them off, so big, baggy and comfy. I can’t blame them, but children in adult sized clothes reads a little “WT” if you know what I mean??!!!!!


violet blue jays dress edited

“YES! it’s the same T-Shirt, transformed into the perfect little Blue Jays sundress.”

Now everytime we go to the game, the kids have something unique and very “blue jays” they can wear.

I’ll warn you, i did the same thing with an old Alanis Morrisette T-Shirt i had and couldn’t part with. It did NOT go over nearly as well.

So a bit of advice, use a shirt you know your kid will like, otherwise all your hard work will go to waste.

Luckily, they’re so easy, you can do it too.

What you’ll need:

-One large T-shirt

-Sewing machine, with a needle specifically for knit fabrics

-6 feet of bias tape


-roller cutter or fabric scissors

– a kid to wear it

Lay T-shirt flat on cutting mat, make sure there are no wrinkles or creases, they’re sneaky on knits to really flatten the shirt out. Even iron it.

Cut off the arms and the neck. Just follow about 1/4 inch off the seam that’s already there, or fold the T-Shirt in half and cut through both sides at once if you don’t think you can do it evenly.

Cut Shirt

What’s great is the bottom of the dress is already hemmed!

The armholes are likely too big for your little Blue Jays fan,  so, turn the dress inside out and sew (with a stretch stitch, so your knit fabric doesn’t pull) about a 4 inch seam to close up a bit of the arm hole.

Armhole stitch tip

This doesn’t have to be perfect. Sew arms on each side and flip the dress right side out again.

Now the gathering.  Dresses on kids fall nicer when cinched a bit at the top.  Not pleated, but gathered.  So you’ll need to gather the neckline on the front and back of the dress.

Gathering Instructions:

(there’s a great tutorial here)

or following along:

Using the largest straight stitch your sewing machine has, sew a straight line about 1/4 inch away from the top of the neckline.  Be sure NOT to back stitch at the beginning or end of this line as you want to be able to pull this thread out, leave an extra tail of thread before snipping it off of your machine. (this will make it easier to pull.

(insert photo)

Now, sew a second straightline about 1/4 inch under the first, so you have 2 parallel lines running along the neckline.

Black camera pics summer 2013 178
Black camera pics summer 2013 181
Black camera pics summer 2013 180

Don’t backstitch! you need the threads to be loose at the beginning and end so you can pull the strings. That’s what leads to the gathering.

Pull the strings until you’ve got an even amount of bunching. Don’t pull too hard!


Once you’ve got your two temporary lines, sew one permanent line, over top of the gathered material, It will seem weird sewing over all of the bunching, but keeping it bunched will insure you get a nice drape to your dress.

Black camera pics summer 2013 182

This time remember to backstitch.  Once you’ve sewn all the way across you can pull out your two temporary rows and Presto! Your gathers stay put!

Next,  sandwich your bunching inbetween  your bias tape.  Fold your bias tape in half so you have a middle point, and line that point up with the middle of the neckline. Do this for the front and back. .

Start pinning in the middle and pin your way up leaving about 10-12 inches of bias tape coming off the top of each side of the neck,  to be used as a shoulder ties.

Sew edge of bias tape to the neck and continue the seam all the way up until the end of the tape.

Knot the bias tape at the ends

And you’re Done!

Finished dresses 2

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