Make a Toddler Dress From a T-shirt.




About: I am a domestic engineer, aka. a stay at home Mom. A former science geek, scenic carpenter, and quilter.

This Instructable will show you how to easily make a long sleeved toddler sized dress from an adult sized t-shirt.

I have a hard time finding winter dresses for my girls, that are not too fancy, and not too expensive. I have a lot of t-shirts, none of which fit me well, so here is a great way to use them. 

These dresses go great with leggings, are nice and warm, and the kids love to wear them.

You will need:
A toddler.
A t-shirt that currently fits your toddler.
An adult sized shirt to make into your dress.
A sewing machine.

Step 1: Try the T-shirt on the Kid.

Have your kid try on the t-shirt. Make sure they are not scared of the logo, or think it's ugly or itchy, or what have you. This is also your chance to check the length, collar and sleeves. The length will be about an inch shorter than it is now. You can make it as short as you want, but you can't make it any longer. The sleeves will be the same length they are now. If the collar is too big, see the last step on this instructable, but it does make the project a lot harder. My advice is to pick a different t-shirt, or find a bigger kid.

Step 2: Cut the Pieces.

Now take the t-shirt, lay it flat, and smooth it out. Take a shirt that already fits your kid, and lay it on top, lining up the top seams of the shirts. If the shirt you are using as a pattern flares out at the bottom, adjust it so it goes straight down. Now cut straight across, about 1/2 inch down from the bottom of the pattern shirt. This piece will be your skirt. You can make it shorter if you want, but leave the finished edge on the bottom alone. Cut along the rest of the shirt, leaving about 1/2 for seam allowance.

Step 3: Sew the Top of the Dress.

Turn the top of the dress inside out. I'm going to refer to the top of the dress as the shirt now.  Line up the seams. Sew from the bottom up to the arm pit, then turn and go down the sleeve. Do the same on the other side. Leave the bottom of the shirt open.

Use about a half inch seam allowance. Make sure you back stich at the beginning and end of each seam.

Step 4: Prepare the Skirt.

If you want the skirt to be shorter, cut it now. Leave the finished edge alone. If your shirt doesn't have side seams, mark each side of the skirt with a dot. This helps to make sure the skirt attatched to the dress evenly.

Now baste along the top of the skirt. (don't backstich, use a long stitch length.)

Pull the top thread to gather the skirt.

Step 5: Attatch the Skirt.

Turn the skirt inside out. Turn the shirt right side out. Put the shirt inside the skirt, and line up the raw edges. (Right sides are facing each other.)

Now line up the dots you drew on the skirt with the seams sewn on the shirt.
Now line up the shirt with the gathered skirt, spreading the gathered skirt evenly, and pin in place.

Now sew the shirt to the skirt. Make sure you stay to the left of the gathered stitching so that it doesn't show. If your kids are rough to their clothes, sew around twice.

Turn it right side out and you're done.

Step 6: Try It On, and Go Play.

Make sure all the pins are out. Trim any loose threads, and put it on your kid. They will love it.
Here they are playing Super Hero Girl, and her trusty sidekick Robot Girl.

Both were size Meduim men's shirts. The blue is about a size 6 girls, and the grey is about a 2T/3T.

Step 7: If Your T-shirt Is REALLY BIG.

If your t-shirt is really big, (aka, the collar droops over the kid's shoulder), you can still make the dress, it just takes a few more steps. Lay the pattern shirt over the tshirt, but below the collar.
then cut out the shirt, including cutting across the top.
You'll have to cut out the ribbing for the collar on the t-shirt, and sew it in place on the new smaller top.

It takes a lot of monkeying around with it, but you can do it!

Finalist in the
Sew Warm Contest

6 People Made This Project!


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81 Discussions


2 years ago

Hi! Just found this. It is awesome.But what if the neck opening is too big? Should I put a tuck in the back or shoulders? Thanks for your help.


3 years ago

Wow.. Its
really great.

But you can also sell your
kids cloths online. I use some sites like and others to sell
my kids designer cloths. Benefit is that designer cloths are costly and
obviously no one wants to waste it. So its better to sell it so other kids
can use it.


3 years ago

This is a brilliant idea! Thanks for the great ible!


3 years ago

I don't know what I love more, your essay to follow instructions, or the sense of humor mixed in :-) looking forward to giving this a try this weekend with some of hubby's old shirts!

Flipper Clarke

3 years ago

Here's my attempt on my daughter Mia who's 19 months old today and already has a break eye for a dangling thread! Thank you for such a brilliant idea.

1 reply

I love the idea of doing this....and I wish I would have seen this when my little girl was a toddler. Do you think that your instructable would work as beautifully if I took a XL shirt and followed your directions to make it fit my 8 year old string bean? She's as tall as an average 10 year old, but as skinny as a 6 year old. Her dad gave me a bunch of his XL "concert" tees to "do whatever" with, and I would love to repurpose them for her in someway.......


6 years ago on Introduction

Have been looking at this for a while now and was like, "just do it, lady!" and I did. I took one of my (ahem) smaller shirts, like a women's S and cut it for my 5T/6 daughter. It is a mini-dress, she wears it with leggings and it looks adorable! Only took about 45 minutes, which part of was dawdling. The sleeves were a bit skinny and had to go and the head hole was a bit small, but it looks great! Such a good idea! Repurposing and fashion unite!


7 years ago on Introduction

I made this t-shirt dress out of an old t-shirt that I was going to throw away. I know it is a super dark color. She is extremely fair skinned and has hot pink shoes and an electric blue head band (same blue that is in the shirt) to go with it. I made some modifications because I wanted an inside out seam at first but one area I felt didn't look 'perfect' (I am a perfectionist if my daughter is wearing it) so I added a belt and a cute bow with a button. She loves the skirt. She is super petite so I had to redo the neck hole, sleeves and take in the waist a second time because it hung off of her too much. All in all it took me about 2 hours. It was a lot of fun. I cannot wait to make another one!

1 reply

7 years ago on Introduction

so impressed, love your ideas and your little girl



7 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for a great tutorial! I'm going to send your link to my daughter in law, who we just gave a new sewing machine to, for her birthday. Shes new to sewing, but I think this will be a great project for her, that will be easy and help build her sewing confidence! Oh, and I was looking at the t-shirt in Step 2, and thought, Why not use the left over sleeves and body fabric to make a dress for a dolly? You could just sew the two halves together, and finish off the neck and hem?

1 reply

I love this! Thanks so much for posting clear and concise directions :) -I'm a novice at sewing still.


This has become my go to dress for my daughter. She has about 10 of them with different embellishments, lace, buttons, ruffles, ect. Thank you!