How to Make an Easy Dress (For Cheap!)




Two facts about me:

I'm cheap.

I love dresses.

I wear dresses probably 6 days out of the week. It's not that I one day just decided to wear dresses to feel cute and girly. Far from it. I spend a lot of time sitting at home, knitting, crocheting, painting. I also spend a lot of time in the car traveling across the country. I absolutely hate the feel of jeans around my knees.. Ugh. The thought of it makes me grumpy.

Dresses are so comfortable, I can sit around the house and feel comfortable and cute. That's the best.

The only problem.. they are expensive! Now.. to me, 19.99 is expensive. I told you. I'm cheap. So I started making my own dresses, and skirts, for under 6 dollars each!

Here is a tutorial on a High Waisted Dress:
For under 6 bucks!

Step 1: What You Need

First you will need a ribbed tank top.
I got mine from Walmart for 2.50
You could also use a t-shirt
3 yards of matching fabric.

Clearance section is my favorite. I got three yards for 3.00 total!

Step 2: Make the Cut

Cut the tank top almost in half. This is really your preference. Depending on your bust size, and how short you want your dress. The shorter the tank top, the shorter your dress will be. 
(I cut mine a little too short.. oops!)

Step 3: Sewing It Up

For the bottom part of your dress take the fabric and wrap it around your waist about 1 and a half times, and cut in a straight line. The fabric will come to you already folded, don't unfold it. This way you have kind of a bubble hem. You don't need to hem up the bottom at all, and the inside will look like the outside.
I never measure, I never use patterns... Sorry if this seems silly!

Next you fold your fabric in half. Remember it's already folded, so you are folding it again, creating a skirt.  Sew up the short side. (There will be four layers of fabric that you are sewing.)

Step 4: Making the Ruffles

You have kind of a big blocky rectangle skirt. Next open it up and change your sewing machine's tension so it will create the biggest stitches possible. Instead of sewing a waist band in like a normal skirt, you are just sewing a straight line around the two layers of fabric joining them together.
(You are sewing the raw edges, not the bubble hem)
This is where I didn't get pictures.. awesome.
We are going to create a ruffle. Don't do a back stitch when you start sewing around the skirt or after.

Make sure the skirt ruffles are evenly distributed and pretty loose.

Step 5: Sewing the Top to the Bottom

Turn the skirt part inside out so that the raw edges (from when you turned it into that big blocky skirt) are facing out, and put the tank top inside as pictured.
Next you will pin the tank top and the dress together.
Once it's pinned make sure that the tanktop part of the dress folds out to be inside out like the skirt part.
Make sure that the tank top park lays flat and the skirt part is ruffled still.

Make sure your tension is set back to normal and sew the skirt and the tank top together just under the previous stitches.

Step 6: Almost Done!

Remove the pins and the dress part is done! Now for the sash.

Step 7: The Finishing Touch!

Cut a strip out of the left over fabric, about double of how thick you want your sash to bed. Fold it in half long ways so that the printed side is facing in. And sew up the sides.
Turn it right side out and finish up the edges, and you are done!
The sash is not actually sewn  onto the dress, it's removable and is just tied in the back. You could always use a regular belt or another coordinating fabric for the belt!

Step 8: Finished!

This dress took about 30 minutes to make.
It cost about 6.00 total.

I now have three of these dresses.
They look good with a cardigan, and a pair of tights or leggings.



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    30 Discussions


    6 months ago

    I love ur site

    and want to learn mo


    6 months ago

    Great Instructable. And simple enough for me to work on with my machine, inexpensive is a necessary plus in our house as well. Christine should like it. I'm following your posts for more creative tutorials. Thanks.



    6 months ago on Step 8

    So cute! I love how easy this project is!


    1 year ago

    Can you sew the belt on?

    Sophia K

    2 years ago

    Oh my gosh! I'm so scared to cut my shirt to short!


    2 years ago

    just a thought about the fabric that was cut off from the shirt. it can be used to line the hem or as a stitched-in slip for the skirt (for thinner fabrics).

    Eliza Dreemurr

    2 years ago

    This Is An Amazing Project. My Class is Doing A Sewing Project And I Needed Something Simple like This. Thanks!!


    3 years ago

    This is so helpful because I am doing a project that includes making a dress


    3 years ago on Introduction

    WOW..... this is so pretty ..... and it dosent cost much YAY

    Wonderful dress, but isn't it hard to put on the dress? It doesn't have a zippered or anything like that, and since I'm very curvy I'm afraid that I wont be able to get it over my hips. Is this a valid fear or is it enough to use stretching fabric?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm impressed by your dress. I'm a large size but need an every day dress (frock as we say from England) that I can wear around the house in the hot weather. This will do the trick. Thanks.


    5 years ago on Step 8

    nice.. Im a plus size girl so its kinda hard to look for good dresses that fits me.. so im searching to make one for my self and this is a very good idea! thumbs up!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like a job for the cool gathering foot that came with my new serger.
    (plenty of "practice" fabric, so I don't have an "Oh, NOOOO" moment)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is wonderful and so easy! I think I'm going to attempt to make one for a wedding I'm going to this weekend!


    6 years ago on Step 8

    Looks great!! Am gonna try! Thank you!!!!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Made two of these over the weekend! Your instructions were great!

    I had trouble getting the ruffles to work so I did a freehand pleat instead - worked well for me.

    This got me thinking ... Walmart and I am sure other stores as well have ribbed "thermal" type shirts as well ... This could be modified to have a longer skirt and be made to go with a sweater or something for easy cool weather wear as well :)

    Thanks so much for sharing, this was a wonderful way to breathe some new life into my warm weather wardrobe while being easy on the pocket book! <3

    (yea, one is shorter than the other ... I had cut corners off both ends of the yardage and had to trim it down :P still just past knee length though on the black one)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    this will be a great use for a couple of skirts I want to convert.


    6 years ago on Step 8

    These look so cute and so easy to make! Are they itchy at all on the inside where the fabrics meet?