Friday, June 22, 2012

Mens Shirt to Girls Summer Dress Tutorial

Hi! My name is Marta and I live in Cascais, Portugal, near a beach called Guincho. That’s why my blog’s name is DoGuincho (it means “From Guincho”) and it posts my adventures as a crafter, architect, windsurfer and mother of two girls.

Today I’m sharing a tutorial to transform a man's shirt into a summer dress for a girl.
To make this dress you need a man's shirt and 15cm of fabric by 1.50m wide. I’m making a dress for Ines, my younger child who is 3 years old.


Start by removing the pockets, if the shirt has them, and by separating its front, back and sleeves. For the dress you will only need the front and back of the shirt. Keep the lower hems as later they can be of use.

To make the pattern, start by taking the measurement around the chest and the height from the chest to the knees of the child. Ines is 52cm around the chest and 40cm from her chest to her knees.
As the front and back of the dress are alike, make the following calculation to obtain the upper width:
1 - Divide the chest measurement by 2: 52/2 = 26cm
2 - Add 1cm so that the dress doesn’t fit too tight: 26 +1 = 27cm 3 - Add 2cm for the side seams: 27 +2 = 29cm 4 - With a total of six pleats, add 2cm for each pleat: 29 + 2x6 = 29 +12 = 41cm For the bottom width it is best to use the shirt’s full width as long as it doesn’t exceed twice the final chest measurement. If you are using the shirt’s original hem, the height you measured will be the final height of the pattern. In Ines dress it is 40cm. If you have to make a hem you should add about 3cm. Now that you have all the measurements it is time to draw the pattern. You can draw it directly on the back and front fabrics of the dress. First mark the height from the hem to the chest (40cm in Ines dress) and trace a line with the chest width (41cm in Ines dress). Then draw two perpendicular lines, about 12cm long for the pleats. Finally draw two diagonal lines down to the hem.

For the sash cut two strips of flowered fabric 7cm wide and 70cm long. Add some length if you are making the dress for an older child.
For the top finishing band cut another strip that should be 7cm wide and have the chest measurement plus 6cm. For Ines dress: 52+6cm = 58cm. For the shoulders straps cut two strips of 7x30cm. Add some length if you are making the dress for an older child.

Fold both sash fabrics in two lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short and one long side. Trim off the excess seam allowance at the corners and turn right side out with the aid of a safety pin.

Repeat for shoulder straps but sewing along one long side and two short ones, leaving a small opening in the long side so you can turn around the straps right-side out. Close the opening with handmade invisible stitches.

Draft three equidistant pleats on the top of the two sides of both back and front main panels of the dress, a total of 12 pleats. Do not forget that the pleats are all facing out, to the sides of the dress. Mark the pleats from the middle of the dress as follows:
1 – Measurement from the middle of the dress to the first pleat: 2.5 cm
2 – Measurement of the pleat: 2x1cm 3 – Measurement of the space between pleats: 1.5 cm That is: 2.5cm + 2cm (pleat) + 1.5cm + 2cm (pleat) + 1.5 + 2 (pleat). Pin the pleats and, at the base of the front outer pleats, pin the unfinished ends of the sashes. Sew each one of the pleats with the defined height (12cm for Ines´s dress) and then topstitch them.

Placing right sides of the dress together, pin and sew the side seams with 1cm seam. Do not forget to finish the seams with a zigzag (or a serger).

Align the long top finishing band with the upper edge of the dress, right sides together. Leave it 1cm longer at each end. Pin it and sew it with a 1cm seam. Turn the fabric 2.2 cm and then turn again 1cm, so that it coincides with the seam previously done. Fold the end of raw edges inside for a proper finish and topstitch throughout the tape.

Pin and then sew the front of the shoulder straps to the inside of the dress, aligned with the outer pleats. Before sewing the back straps try the dress on the child to adjust their length. The back shoulder straps can be sewn aligned with the inner or outer pleats. In Ines dress, I aligned them with the inner pleats.

Now you just have to steal an old shirt from your husband, father, friend or brother ... and sew!

If you want you can also change the buttons.
With the sleeves you can make a hair ribbon to match.

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  1. What a clever idea!!! I have not realized it was a shirt untill i saw the step bt step tutorial, so sad that i recently gave away all the old shirts my husband was not wearing anymore :(

  2. Cute take on the men's shirt to child's dress! So sad there is no link to your blog!

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  4. Oh what a cutie pie! This is a great tutorial. Thank you!

  5. beautiful!! love the soft floral fabric paired with the crisp men's shirt, and it's a great design.

  6. I love it. I made my daughter a dress from a men's shirt once, obviously with a different tutorial. I think I shall make her another using yours this time. It looks perfect for summer!

  7. i love these type of repurposing projects ~ great design & details !
    the perfect summer dress for a little girl :)

  8. That is so cute! I love the pleats and the way they shape the dress, combined with the sash. =)

  9. Very cute! I love that you have taken an old idea (using a men's shirt for a dress) and made something new and fresh with it. Love the details!

  10. Gorgeous dress and little girl! Love the pleats and the florals. :)

  11. Thank you very much for all your lovely words!
    And thank you Liz and Elizabeth for this opportunity!

  12. The pin tucks are too cute for words.


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