Instructables
Picture of Make a Dress from a Button-Down Shirt
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This is a surprisingly simple way to turn an old button-down shirt into a fun, stylish dress. It requires very little sewing. I wore one of these dresses to my Junior prom, and now I'm making a second one with my mom for this instructable.

Things you need:

- a big, button-down shirt
- 4 or 5 buttons
- needle and thread
- straight pins
- scissors
- someone to help you, or a dress form

 
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Step 1: Choosing a Shirt

If you don't already have an old shirt you can recycle for this purpose, you should be able to find one easily at a thrift store. Hold the collar under your arms, and make sure it's long enough that you'll be comfortable wearing it as a dress. Short sleeves are ok, but make sure they're long to reach around your chest and overlap in the back.

Also, try and find a shirt that has darts in the middle of the back. If the darts are at the shoulders, it won't fit as well. It seems like women's shirts mostly have darts in the middle, and men's shirts have darts at the shoulders.

I used a blue polka-dot shirt for my first dress, and a red plaid one for the second. A Hawaiian shirt could also be a lot of fun.

Step 2: The Structure of the Dress

Here's how it works: the collar goes across your chest, the sleeves wrap around to your back, and the buttons now button up your back.

If you're lazy or desperately need a dress in the next 5 minutes, you can tie the sleeves behind your back and you're finished. However, I recommend cutting the sleeves short and securing them with buttons instead.

You can choose to leave the collar sticking out, like in the first picture, or you can cut it off. It's a matter of how the shirt fits, and personal preference.

megsashyl4 months ago

WOW its just amazing. I just love this amazing idea.

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SophiaM14 months ago

Nice idea you have there!

Thumbs up!

i would like to make this

heartart2 years ago
Love this. My daughter is starting to sew and this is perfect for her. Yawl are about the same age. Plus, she loves strapless dresses. I bet you could do a LOT with a sewing machine, so make a couple of these, sell them to your friends and go get you a sewing machine at Wal mart or other local store!! You will LOVE doing buttonholes with the Brother machine. It is literally a ONE STEP buttonhole!! I was afraid of them until I got my newer machine and now I have buttons on everything. The day I learned I did 14 buttonholes. hahahah Great instructable!!
sheinonen2 years ago
Wicked cute and resourceful. Next trip to the thrift store I'm getting an over sized shirt to try his out!
pyromonkey2 years ago
Very cute. In my case I need to get a shirt in a 5xl so I can get the right length :P
GREAT IBLE! HOWEVER...i was noticing in the back of the dress that its all bunched up...if you wanna add to the WOW factor and have ppl ask where you bought the dress, decieve them and cut off the "front side" of the shirt, cut off the extra material on the dress to allow you to splice the button panes of the dress into the back and make it look like a big company made it. I LOVE how you used the arms to secure the dress on. im following. i would love to see what else you come up with!!
Oh, and i will make one of these and then show you what im talking about. ill also make an 'ible (of course crediting you) so everyone can see what i did.
im so lucky to have a sister thats practically my size!
jleung43 years ago
Ha ha, this is so cool. Have a look at this amazing video which shows how to create a dress yourself too from this fashion blog! (scroll at the bottom of the blog) 
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Cannot wait to take my fiance's shirts and make them into dresses haha
alawrence53 years ago
WOW! this is perfect! i have been looking for easy beginers dress patterns and this so right! thanks so much you are great!
goingon3 years ago
unbelievable, so impress
hpsomadeli3 years ago
unbelievable
Jent133 years ago
Hi I am just wondring where the darts were on ur blue polka dotted dress? and also how you made it not have the overhang at the edges in the back and have it gathered/pleated above by the butt?
grooooovy4 years ago
This is REALLY cute, creative too! I would definitely make this sometime.
miso_soup4 years ago
This dress is sooo cute!
msbrainiac54 years ago
wow this is cool I'm gonna do this this weekend. Thanks for posting this.
chabias4 years ago
Your dress is TOO adorable!! As for the left-over sleeves....whenever my mother-in-law makes a dress for her grand-daughter, she makes a matching dress (same material) for 'Barbie'. Just a thought.
Well, after numerous attempts, I can't come up with a comment/ compliment that doesn't sound creepy and for that(this) I apologize; your mom has awesome shoulders. Thanks for sharing this, it is a wonderful idea and a well built instructable as well.
remiska4 years ago
Make a Dress from a Button-Down Shirt
LiaVivas4 years ago
 Hey! your idea is great, it really blew my mind the first time I saw. I was meaning to make one for me for quite a while but I had forgotten where was it that I had seen this idea. Finally I got around to it, and I must confess... mess it all up :( i feel really silly since everybody says it is so easy, but no matter I´ll try again! In the meantime my mom came up with some ideas to clean up my mess... will see how it works out...
 supercute!! i will definitely be going to the thrift store soon! i was thinking about maybe making a band out of the sleeves to go around the waist and add a bow on the side in the front for an extra detail!
Maybe you could cut the arms each into a thin strip. Then you could tie the arms into a bow in the back. I plan on testing it out soon.
shoster4 years ago
Very cute!!! No reason you couldn't use the left overs from the arms or som ribbon to make cute straps too! I might do that with som old shirts for my daughters, they are little yet so straps would be more "appropriate"!!! Thanks for the fabulous idea!!!
 this is just so easy!! you've got a very very creative mind...that was sooooo easy!! i am DEFINITELY going to try it!!
apierce475 years ago
I used your idea in my Communications class, giving a demonstation speech, and I wore the dress that I made while I gave it. I just love your idea.
perrineco5 years ago
Hello!

I really like your how to.
I was wondering if I could translate it in French and add it to my list of how to as explained in my french post (http://www.petitcitron.com/index.php/form_howto.html)
Of course, your website would be quoted and there would be a link!

Thank you,

Perrine
emattrose (author)  perrineco5 years ago
Hi Perrine, Please feel free to translate this instructable for your site. I'm flattered!
mb_hatter5 years ago
This is so very cute and I cant wait to try it out. Thanks for adding!
omg1 this is SO awesome, i'm wearing one right now! so easy!! thanks SO much!
jodij5 years ago
you have my vote..hope ya win! you definately need the sewing machine with all that creativity.:)
sewshesaid5 years ago
Very clever idea. Love it when folks come up w/ ideas to upcycle old items. Congrats. Cant wait to see your next creation. Darlene
Very cool!
This is the cleverest & cutest thing I've seen in a long time! You are such a clever girl & I hope you win. I've been an artist & crafter for nearly 50yrs & sewing since age 5 & this is one of the best ideas I've seen!!! Kudos!!
jaydeechick5 years ago
Wonderful idea. I live in a town where most summer days are around 45*C (113*F). Summer is almost here, and these dresses are going to be brilliant. Thanks so much. I'm off to raid hubby's wardrobe. Jen (Bourke NSW Australia)
tim_n5 years ago
After my wife was browsing instructables last night I heard her say 'don't be suprised if any of your shirts go missing'. I think this is probably why. Great instructable
emattrose (author)  tim_n5 years ago
I'd guard your closet closely if I were you :)
Lor5 years ago
wow. you are an absolute genius. this dress is the most darling thing, and the instructible is very, very easy. I LOVE IT. It's incredible. I dig it with the collar in the front. Makes it very cute. why has no one thought of this before. i made one dress so far, it was really easy, looks fantastic, especially after I threw a belt on it, and now i'm making one with pockets. (I just slapped on two side pockets. I'm thinking of alternatives, like slitting side seams and inserting pockets, too.) This is really, really neat. Thanks so much.
emattrose (author)  Lor5 years ago
Those are some cool ideas! Could you show us a picture of the dress you made? I'd especially like to see how it worked with the belt.
What a great idea for marking button placement. I've never thought of doing it that way before. Silly me--I always put the buttons on first and then try to place my holes to match.
BrindaMS5 years ago
aussome! looks very chic!
RoyalPayne5 years ago
Wonderful. I can see the possibilities, especially with a little time spend with a sewing machine. What a wonderful, green, cheap way to reuse something, and stand out while doing it.
mgroodt5 years ago
Very nice. A couple of years ago I made a marching army for our sunday school by sticking sequins onto long sleeved blue shirts with wide cellotape. A sunday school teacher never throws anything away and I still have the shirts, about 30 of them ... Now I'm thinking I could use them in this way (tying the sleeves so they can be used again) for our latest play. Thank you!!
Carmelite5 years ago
Where did you get the money to hire a model? ; )
BoeroBoy5 years ago
Bummer, the link I saw to this was elipsed to "Make a Dress from a Butt..." My curiosity was mislead. Still a cool idea though.
emattrose (author)  BoeroBoy5 years ago
....trying to imagine how that would work....
rpaxton5 years ago
What a great idea! I have a shirt at my parents house I was going to make into a dress this weekend...this may well be my new pattern! One question, though...the first one looks like it's a bit more fitted. Is there something different about the blue shirt from the red, or did you do something different to get that look? Thanks for the 'ible!
emattrose (author)  rpaxton5 years ago
Each dress will come out differently, depending on the size, cut, and fabric of the shirt - I didn't try to make one more fitted. You can fuss with it to try to adjust the fit, but for the most part you've just got to start with a good shirt and accept how it comes out.
hishealer5 years ago
Does the collar have to extend all the way around the ribcage?
emattrose (author)  hishealer5 years ago
Nope. It's just for decoration and probably won't even reach the armpits. Only the sleeves need to reach all the way around the ribcage.
jtcatchenco5 years ago
Super Cool!
suqzi5 years ago
bitchin!
karmagirl5 years ago
omg, I love the red plaid dress!!
Very clever! Very cute! I do hope you win. All entries are wonderful! But with the economy the way it is, so many young women can't afford dresses to the school dances, and this is simply beautiful! Good luck! Mrs. Lucas!
Cat Song5 years ago
Innovative and well done!
Thanks for a great instructable. Will definitely be implementing this!
This is such a cool project! I guss I'll have to guard my shirts from my girlfriend now =)
beepea5 years ago
Fantastic! Thank you so much.
leBeau5 years ago
I think the idea is great and you and your dresses are beautiful. You have my vote! Good luck
what a wonderful idea! i can't wait to try this one out!!
sumrandom15 years ago
very cool, i have a whole bunch of shirts that i dont wear anymore and a few of them are Hawaiian, i will definitely make some of these dresses for my GF, that is if she is willing to wear my creations, and you should invest in a sewing machine, i got a portable one off craigslist for $30, n so far it has lasted me for two halloweens and like 20 hoodies that i made, n yes button holes are very easy with a machine, thanks for sharing its very creative yet simple, just the way life is
I am excited to try this one out. Good thinking!
Sunbanks5 years ago
That is awesome! I'm going to try this as soon as I can get a good shirt to use for it :D
KreaKatri5 years ago
This is brilliant! Now I finally have a reason to buy all the mens shirts with cool patterns I always find :)
jaCKYx5 years ago
you're my hero!! =]
sarahfish5 years ago
so cute! well done on the instructable as well!
Shazzam.tky5 years ago
Very nice, I never would have thought about it like that. Then again, I'm a guy....
paganwonder5 years ago
One of the most original and clever ideas I have ever seen. Fantastic! You have one of those minds that move us forward, thank you for sharing.
JoeMenthol5 years ago
So cool! I really like the blue one you made. :)
Z..5 years ago
The ideas on this site never fail to amaze me! This is a lovely idea, and if I was fort...thir..twen....,ten years younger I would be making these for myself! Well done!!