T-shirt Dress for Charity




Introduction: T-shirt Dress for Charity

About: We're Mother Daughter Projects, sharing our DIY adventures as we learn to maintain, improve, decorate, and use tech in our homes.

In the United States we would not consider a homemade t-shirt dress for a special occasion, but to a girl in an impoverished county, the day she receives her very first new dress, is indeed a special occasion!

I've (Vicki) been sewing dresses for distribution to girls in need for three years. I usually make pillowcase dresses, but have started to make t-shirt dresses since finding instructions for utilizing a t-shirt as the bodice of a dress. See the instructions here.

I have modified the instructions to better fit my style of sewing. Let's get started.

Step 1: Gather Materials

  • Cotton or Cotton blend fabric, pre-washed
  • Cotton t-shirt, pre-washed
  • Fusible interfacing, lightweight
  • Thread
  • Fusible webbing (optional)
  • Black permanent marker
  • Cutting mat, rotary cutter, sewing ruler
  • Sewing machine, I'm using a vintage singer 221
  • Sewing clips
  • Iron

Step 2: ​Cut the T-shirt.

  • Lay the t-shirt, inside out, front side facing up on the cutting mat.
  • Match up the bottom of the armholes with one of the horizontal lines.
  • Smooth everything out.
  • With the ruler and rotary cutter, cut the bottom of the shirt 3" from the bottom of the armholes.
  • Continue to cut 2" strips from the remaining piece to use as trim.
  • Mark the front, back, and sides with the marker.
  • The selvages will be seamed and will be placed at the center back.

Step 3: ​Cut the Interfacing

With the rotary cutter, cut one inch strips across the width of the interfacing. Approximately two are needed for each dress.

Step 4: ​Cut the Fabric

  • Refer to chart in the link for the length needed.
  • I like to clip one selvage side and tear the fabric across grain to get a straight edge.
  • Add about two inches to the finished length to allow for hemming.
  • Press the fabric if there is significant wrinkling especially on the selvage edges.
  • Mark the center and sides of the skirt with the marker.

Step 5: Make the Skirt

  • The back seam is finished with a French seam.
  • To make a French seam: Pin selvage edges wrong sides together.
  • Stitch a 3/8" seam, fold and press so the right sides of the fabric are now together, pin or use clips.
  • Sew again, this time slightly wider than 3/8" so the previous seam is now enclosed.
  • Press the seam to one side.
  • Gather the top of the skirt.
  • This is where I vary from the instructions in the original.
  • The original instructs you to add tucks to fit the skirt to the bodice.
  • This method is a little to imprecise for my liking and took too much time to finesse.
  • Gathering by machine and adjusting the gathers by pulling out gathers to fit or adding small tucks works much better for me.
  • Use the machine gathering foot, a tight top tension, and the longest available stitch to gather the top of the skirt.

Step 6: Attaching the Skirt to the T-shirt Top

  • Fuse the interfacing to the cut edge of the t-shirt. This is to stabilize the knit so it does not stretch out of shape. Be sure you are still able to see your marks at center and sides of t-shirt.
  • With right sides together match up the centers and side marks of the skirt with those of the bodice.
  • Pin. Depending on the size of the bodice, adjust the gathering by cutting threads and pulling out gathers or adding small tucks.
  • Pin all around.
  • Sew 1/4" to 3/8" from edge.
  • Sew again about 1/8" from previous stitches in the seam allowance to help prevent fraying.
  • Press the bodice seam towards the top of the garment (away from the skirt).
  • With the garment right side out, top stitch 1/8" from seam. This gives the garment a finished look and helps with fraying.

Step 7: Step 7: Hem

Turn up one inch for the hem, press, turn up one inch one more time. Stitch close to the folded edge. Add ruffle trim made from the leftover t-shirt strips. Machine gather, top stitch ruffle to the stitched hem line.

Step 8: Done!

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    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I have a sewing machine and no experience. These are so darling I am really thinking of giving it a try!

    DIY for Homeowners
    DIY for Homeowners

    Reply 2 years ago

    Awesome! Let us know how it goes!

    These are so cute! I know any little girl would love to wear those!


    4 years ago

    Wonderful project for your wonderful Ministry. God bless you, and those who receive your gifts!


    4 years ago

    I love this, thanks for the instructions!

    DIY for Homeowners
    DIY for Homeowners

    Reply 4 years ago

    You're welcome- glad you enjoyed it!


    4 years ago

    I love the t-shirt scrap trim! Beautifully done.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    4 years ago

    These are really cute! That is such a great idea to make these for charity :)