Friday, August 24, 2012

Easy T-Shirt Dress with Gathered Sleeve Detail!

I got the idea to make this dress by combining this adorable French Mariniere dress with this great gathered-sleeve dress.  It was so quick and easy, and you could make about a million variations--using printed t-shirts, adjusting the waistline to be empire, natural, or dropped, adjusting the width of the body or sleeves for different fits, using larger t-shirts for fuller skirts--it goes on and on!

I made two of them, and I did basically the same fit on each--pretty loose and slouchy with a slightly empire waist.  They are so comfy and easy, and will fit for quite a while with leggings underneath!

In both of these dresses, I used a size Youth Large t-shirt (both 100% cotton, bought at Dollar Tree!), and made a size 2T/3T dress.  There was hardly any waste, but the end result is such a different look than the original shirt!

For the overall shape, I followed this tutorial from Justine at Sew Country Chic, but left out the painted stripes and buttons, and added a step.

 I used a long-sleeved t-shirt that fits to give me an idea for my shape--

I knew I wanted it to be looser than this t-shirt, so it was just a guideline.  First I cut the bottom of the t-shirt off.  I didn't measure; I just cut where I thought I'd want the waistband to go.  Then I laid the template shirt on top and cut out the underarms of the bodice.

I made the sleeves and the bodice wider than my t-shirt template.

When I made the purple dress, I added gathers to the sleeves using the method described in this post from Craftiness Is Not Optional--which is basically to sew a length of elastic to the inside of the sleeve to create the gathers.  It is important to attach the elastic BEFORE you sew the side seams, because you won't be able to get the sewing machine inside your little sleeve once it's closed up.

I learned that the hard way when I made the white dress.  I was going quickly and not really thinking about it.

All was not lost...I just opened the sleeve up and added the elastic, then sewed it back together.

I don't know what I'd do without this thing.
When you gather the skirt, make it a little wider than the bottom of your bodice, then stretch the bodice as you attach the skirt.  That way you'll have some stretch in the dress and you'll be less likely to tear your stitches.

Um, not like what is shown here.
Make sure the gathers are spread evenly when you attach your bodice to the skirt.  You turn the bodice right-side out and slip it inside the wrong-side-out skirt and pin the raw edges together.  Really, you should just read the tutorial I linked to for a complete explanation.  I figure there's no need to reinvent the wheel here, right?

Oh, I added one more step to the tutorial I linked to above--I did a row of topstitching on the bodice of the dress, just above where the skirt is joined.  I like to do that to stabilize the gathers and I also just like the way it looks.

You wanted to see what the back looks like, right?

I made the balloon dress first.  It started out as a plain purple dress (Little Sister saw the purple t-shirt at the Dollar Tree and had to have it, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to try out this dress).  When she saw it as a dress, she asked me if she could have a picture on it, and I was happy to oblige.

This is how Little Sister usually feels about posing for me.
Until I start throwing raspberries at her.

With the white dress, it didn't end here either...

As you know, we went to Holden Village this summer for our vacation. Our friends had been the year before, and let us know that one of the kids' favorite activities had been Tie-Dye Tuesday.

Here is Little Sister's result:

Don't worry, the rest of the fam got in on it too:

The Boy's pose is cracking me up here--what is this, Glamour Shots circa 1992?

But really, it's a look best sported by the kiddos.

MAN what a cute group!

The kids loved doing the tie-dye so much, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some more tie-dye projects popping up on here.  Stay tuned!


  1. Love it! Thanks for sharing. And I hope we can go to Holden next year, you've just motivated me. :)

    1. We had such a great time--an awesome trip for families with little kids. But they will be mostly closed down (at least for kids) for the next two years while the mining company does remediation work. So set your sights on 2015, and we'll probably see you there!

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