Upcycling: T-shirt Turned Ruffle Dress

Every spring and fall I go through all the clothes drawers and closets in our house and pull out the things that are worn out, grown out, or just plain unloved. Most of the time I take this haul to the local charity shop before my kids get home and object to something they love” being taken away. But now and then I don’t make it in time and a few unusables get pulled our for sentimental reasons. This time it was a way too big to fit for years shirt from a cupcake shop. But instead of trying to sneak it away for a second time I decided to give it some new life, grabbed another old tee from the pile to help me out, and came back with a comfy and fun dress for my daughter.

Things you’ll need:
2 adult t-shirts
Fabric scissors
T-shirt that fits your child well (long sleeve works best)
Sewing machine and notions

Things to do:
1. Lay the adult tee that will make up the body of the dress on a flat surface and lay the child’s shirt over it so that the neck and shoulders line up.
2. Cut the sides and bottom of the sleeves of the large shirt off to match the smaller one, leaving about 1/2 inch extra on each side for a seam.
3. Turn the cut shirt inside out and stitch up the sides and arms using a zig-zag stitch.
4. Lay the other tee on a flat surface and cut off the bottom hem. Cut the main body of the shirt into 3 inch wide strips., slitting the loops to create long rectangles of fabric. (You’ll want at least 5 strips)
5. With your machine on a long straight stitch and without backstitching at either end, stitch down the length of each strip about 1/2 inch from an edge on all but one. Stitch down the center of the last strip.
6. Grasp the bobbin thread at the end of a strip and gently pull to create ruffles with the fabric. Once you have the bunched enough to go easily around the circumference of the dress, tie the ends and trim threads.
7. Pin one ruffled strip to the bottom hem of the dress and stitch around with a zig-zag stitch.
8. Layer another strip on top, just covering the stitch line of the first, pin and sew. Continue until you have as much skit” as you want, finishing with the strip that is bunched from the middle. This ruffle will fold over slightly to cover the final stitch line once it’s sewn on.
9. Optionally you can add ruffles to the sleeves or shorten them to whatever length your child prefers.

You may also like


  1. When my daughter was small, I would always buy a few plain t-shirts a size or 2 larger than she really needed, cut off just the hem line then sewed 1 or 2 layers of ruffles to make her some Vacation Dresses as she seemed to call them. She was certainly all girl liked to wear dresses most of the time. Really cheap dressing for sure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *