Sunday, September 18, 2011

Warm Winter Dress Pattern

I design upcycled kids clothes so I want to encourage you to scout around for t-shirts or sweatshirts from friends, neighbors, Goodwill, and yard sales or ask any Mom. Kids grow quickly and there are tons of beautiful shirts that have plenty of wear left.

Besides the fact that recycling is earth-friendly you can get beautiful brand name shirts such as Sonoma, Gap, Garnet Hill, or Carter that will last much longer even tho they have been washed a few times. I paid 50 cents to $1 for the shirts I used.

So far I have experimented with lightweight corduroy, flannel and light denim. Be careful about the weight of the skirt fabric so it won’t stretch the t-shirt too much.

 I made a gathered skirt, and a pleated skirt. The gathered skirt took me twice as long so I am going to show you how to make a neat little dress with a pleated skirt.

A warm winter dress is pretty much a pillow case that has been sewn onto a t-shirt. There is a seam around the middle, one down the side and a hem. That's it!

So here we go.

Most t-shirts have a size in them so that is the size dress you will want to make. Start by laying out the shirt.

Measure 3” down from each underarm then lay a ruler across and mark with a fabric marker (disappearing ink) and cut across with scissors or use a rotary cutter.

This is what your shirt should look like. Set your top aside for now it is finished. (Put the bottom of the shirt aside so you can make a neat little pocket).

Now the skirt. I make the skirt width 42 inches (all sizes) which is the same as the pillowcase dress. If your fabric is a little wider or narrower don’t worry about it.

 The easiest way to make the correct length is to hem the dress at the end.  So all you need to do right now is make the side seam

I always put the seam under one arm, that way the front and back appear seamless. After you’ve made the side seam lay the fabric flat put a pin on the opposite side that then a pin mid-front and mid-back.

Now do the same thing with the top put a pin on both sides, mid-front and mid-back.  Look close you can see the mid-center pin.

This next step is the trickiest part. Turn the skirt inside out and place the bodice and skirt together. Match up the pins and pin the pieces together.  Make sure that the seam of the skirt is on the side under the arm.

You’re probably going to be worrying about things at this point…stick with me it will make sense in a minute.

Starting mid-center where the pin is…pleat toward the underarm (my pin is yellow).  Each pleat is ½ wide and they are approximately (and I mean very approximately) an inch or so apart. Please don’t measure just fold the fabric until you get to the side seam. Now go back to the center and made pleats heading the opposite direction to the underarm. *If you pleat the wrong direction please don’t re-pin it...just carry on! It will work out fine.

After you finish pleating one side, flip the dress over and do the same thing so that your dress look like this. If it does then you made it!

Sew around using a straight stitch and then zig-zag the edges going around. That’s pretty much it! All that is left is the hem.

Using the Dress A Girl measurement chart, measure down to hem. Start from halfway down the sleeve (see photo) to the hem. Add one inch to the finished length.

I don’t have an illustration of the easiest-hem-in-the-world but you’ll be able to do it. Fold up ½ inch and press, then turn up another 1/2 inch again press and sew around.

Turn your dress inside out. It’s finished! TaDa

Give yourself a pat on the back, and make a cup of tea!


  1. Great tutorial. Mind if I share this on PA dress a Girl . I will give you credit of course.
    I prefer to make pleated skirts rather than the gathered too . It does save a ton of time.

  2. Yes, great tutorial. I'll post a link on the Wisconsin DAG FB page too.

    I have a suggestion for finishing the hem fast and easy.

    1) Take the bottom remnant of the T-shirt and slice off one of the side seams creating a long strip (it will still have one side seam but don't worry about it.)

    2) Follow the directions to make the first steps of making a pillowcase. Here's a great tutorial on YouTube:

    Note: This tutorial uses a decorative 3 inch band that you don't need to add; however, you always can with a piece of ribbon, lace or fabric if you want to.

    3) From here follow the above directions.

    You could also mix and match the remnants from different T-shirts to jazz things up.

    DAG Wisconsin State Rep

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