Instructables

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.

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!
jleung42 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
alawrence52 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!
goingon2 years ago
unbelievable, so impress
hpsomadeli2 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?
grooooovy3 years ago
This is REALLY cute, creative too! I would definitely make this sometime.
miso_soup3 years ago
This dress is sooo cute!
msbrainiac53 years ago
wow this is cool I'm gonna do this this weekend. Thanks for posting this.
chabias3 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.
remiska3 years ago
Make a Dress from a Button-Down Shirt
LiaVivas3 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!!
apierce474 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.
perrineco4 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)  perrineco4 years ago
Hi Perrine, Please feel free to translate this instructable for your site. I'm flattered!
mb_hatter4 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!
jodij4 years ago
you have my vote..hope ya win! you definately need the sewing machine with all that creativity.:)
sewshesaid4 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!!
jaydeechick4 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_n4 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_n4 years ago
I'd guard your closet closely if I were you :)
Lor4 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)  Lor4 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.
BrindaMS4 years ago
aussome! looks very chic!
RoyalPayne4 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.
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