Several months ago, my husband (finally) went through his closet and purged some clothes. This is huge in our house. Like major event. Worth throwing a party over. Because the man owns enough shirts to outfit a small third world country. But in the donate/throw away pile there were a few dress shirts that I salvaged to eventually use for dresses for the little monkey. I did a simple white sun dress a few weeks ago from his favorite old dress shirt that he had worn so long there was a hole in it. And today, I did this little number.
(Pardon the terrible picture, but it was night and she wouldn’t stand still.) I had seen several different tutorials online for making dresses out of shirts, but I just wasn’t in love with any of them for THIS particular shirt. I already have a shirt in mind to do this dress, which I love, but nothing was screaming “Me! Me! Me!” for this shirt. So I decided to just wing it.
First, I found a dress that fits the little monkey fairly well and I traced the bodice to start my pattern. I usually trace onto wrapping paper because it’s big enough and flimsy enough to work well for a pattern.
Then I just drew the skirt the way I wanted it to look. A simple A line is always a win in my book. Be sure to add 1/4″-1/2″ seam allowance before you cut it out. Oh! I folded my paper and only traced half of the dress so that it would be symmetrical. I don’t exactly trust my tracing skills very much.
Then I pinned my pattern to my shirt, being sure to center it with the buttons, and cut it out. You could also trace the pattern onto the shirt and then cut, but that’s just an extra step in my opinion, and I usually skip it.
I went ahead and cut out a couple of facing pieces and a couple of pockets.
At this point I sewed the shoulder seams of both the dress and the facing. Then I pinned right sides together and sewed around the neckline, attaching the facing to dress.
Be sure to clip around the curves so that it lays nice and flat when you turn it. Turn it right side out and iron it down.
Pretty, right? Of course I realized at this point that I had sewn the top closed so that the buttons wouldn’t function. Oops! So I went onto plan B for an opening. Because lord knows that neck hole certainly wouldn’t fit over the little monkey’s noggin. (I also decided somewhere in there to use bias tape for the arm openings.) This is what I decided to do on the back for an opening/closure.
“How did you do that??” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! First I cut out a small rectangle of fabric. About 3”x6” or so. And I zig-zag stitched around all four sides. You could also serge it. That would probably be ideal. And one day I’ll dig my serger out of my garage and finally teach myself to use it. But not today. So I zig-zagged.
I then pinned the little piece of fabric to the center of the back, right sides together. Draw a line right down the middle, stopping about 1 1/2” from the bottom.
At this point, sew down one side of your line, about 1/8″ over, then across the bottom and up the other side, moving your seam slightly further out. About 1/4″ or so. Stop about half way up and place a little loop of elastic (loop side in, towards the line). Be sure your loop isn’t too large (or too small) for the button you are going to use. Pin it in place and then finish sewing the seam. I always backstitch over my elastic, just to give it a little stronger seam, since it will be pulled on. Once you’ve finished sewing your seams, cut right down the line you drew.
At this point, flip the little fabric piece to the back and iron it down nice and flat. I like to do a little top stitch, just to hold it in place. It should look something like this.
Okay, now that I fixed that little problem, I decided to do my pockets. What’s that you say? Wouldn’t that have been easier to do BEFORE you sewed your front and back together? Well, yes. Yes, it would have. But I am not one for doing things the easy way, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now. So, I took my pockets that I had cut out and decided to do a little gather on them before I attached them. To do this, I set the stitch length and tension each at their highest setting. Then just sew and like magic, the fabric will ruffle. So easy!
I happened to have some white bias tape lying around the house, so that’s what I used for the tops of my pockets. Just pin it on, then sew.
Then I folded the edges of my pockets under, making them the shape that I wanted and ironed them down. Next, I pinned them to the front of the dress.
Then sew them down.
So the front and back of the dress are all finished at this point. Except the sleeves. So I attached some bias tape around my sleeve openings. I didn’t take any pictures of this step, but I did it just like the pocket. Pin the tape in place, then sew.
Now it was time to finally sew the front and back of the dress together. So I pinned right sides together (making sure to line up the underarms so the bias tape would match up on the finished garment) and sewed. After I sewed the seam, I zig-zagged the seams. Again, serging would be ideal.
Turn your dress right side out and press. Now it’s time to hem the bottom. Just turn up and press about 1/4″ all the way around. Then turn it up and press again to hide the raw edge of your fabric. Now sew. (I didn’t sew the bottom together.)
And here’s the little monkey modeling it. Forgive my less than stellar photos. By the time I actually finished it and got it on her, it was rather dark out so I had no natural light.
It took me pretty much all day to finish this little project, although it wasn’t difficult in the least. What with feeding kids and reading books here and there and stopping to referee the inevitable fights, it’s a wonder I finished it at all! But I must say, I’m glad I did. This might just be my favorite dress I’ve made to date.