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I love wearing T-shirts! I love wearing dresses! Why not wear both?
This tutorial will show you how to attach a T-shirt to some fabric to make a dress. I made my dress in 2 hours.
- at least 1.5 yds of 44/45” wide fabric (depending on desired length)
- 1” wide knit non-roll elastic (long enough to go around your waist plus a little extra)
- matching all-purpose thread
- jersey needle
- sewing machine with stretch or zig-zag function
- serger, if you have one
Try on your T-shirt and mark with a safety pin where you want the skirt to start. This purple shirt is a very long shirt! Don’t cut anything off yet.
Calculate your skirt pieces by using this formula:
(Hip x 1.5)/2 + 1 = Width
Desired Length + Hem + 3.5” = Total Length
(36 x 1.5)/2 + 1 = 28” wide
18 + 1.25 + 3.5 = 22.75” long
Cut 2 pieces with these dimensions.
Measure 1.75” down from the safety pin and mark with chalk. Measure the same distance on the other side seam. Cut straight across. (I’m saving the bottom portion of my shirt for a tube top!)
Place skirt pieces right sides together and sew the side seams with 1/2” seam allowance. For my skirt, I’m sewing the edges that are 22.75” long.
Press open and finish the seams. I overlocked my seams with a serger. Not shown in this picture.
Find the center front and center back of the T-shirt at the waist and snip with scissors. Find the center front and center back of the skirt at the waist and snip. These are matching notches and are super important!
Press waist edge of skirt 1.75” towards the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure the crease is easily visible afterwards.
Put skirt into T-shirt as shown until edges of T-shirt match up with edges of skirt. Right side of shirt should be touching right side of fabric.
Pin skirt to T-shirt by matching center notches and side seams. The pins will divide the waist seam into four quadrants.
Using a serger or zig-zag stitch, start at a side seam pin and stretch the T-shirt to the next pin, so that the skirt remains completely flat underneath. Stitch using a 3/8” seam. It is best to work in quadrants (from pin to pin) at a time.
This is extremely important that you stretch the shirt to the width of the skirt or you may not get the dress over your shoulders!
It will look like this after you are done joining the shirt to the skirt. Notice how wavy the waist seam looks.
Grab the crease where you had pressed and push the shirt inside the skirt, so that you can lay the crease on the 1.25” mark on your machine. Stretch the waist seam to make it flat and stitch with a narrow zig-zag (on the Janome Magnolia, it’s stitch #6), but leave an opening for the elastic.
A tip to keep it flat: use left hand to hold the back of the seam and the right hand to hold the front of the seam to keep it taut. This is to ensure, once again, that your dress will go over your shoulders when completed.
Using knit non-roll elastic keeps the waist casing from buckling or flopping over, since the top edge of the casing is not attached to the shirt. Feed elastic through the casing with a safety pin or bodkin.
Overlap the ends of elastic and stitch together. Close up the hole.
Shorten length, if desired, and hem. My calculations allowed for a 1.25” hem, so I first press 1/4” and then press another 1” towards the inside of skirt. Machine stitch or hand sew. All done!
Call me old-fashioned, but I love wearing a slip. They just help your skirt or dress hang better on your body. It also helps with those outfits that you can see through when you are outside in the sun. Another advantage of wearing a slip is that when you are making a dress, you can save time not having to fully line it. You can simply line the bodice and wear a slip to help with the skirt of the dress drape better and stop anyone from guessing which color underwear you wore that day! However, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s just too dang hot in Texas to wear a slip! Those store-bought nylon slips will just make you sweat. So, I’ve decided to make my own, using our Beginning I Sewing Series skirt or Simple Skirts pattern, out of a breathable, natural fiber that won’t make you sweat. Cotton and silk are great fibers to use. I have chosen, for this tutorial, a cotton batiste, and added a cotton lace at the hem. I chose the Simple Skirt pattern because it’s the perfect pattern to use—by taking one of the two classes in which we teach this skirt, you have drafted the perfect pattern for your measurements. It’s also SEW easy to make. I’ve decided to cut my skirt on the bias. Cutting on the bias helps a woven fabric have more stretch and drapability. By doing this, it will drape and hug my body more than it would on grain.
To draft YOUR perfect simple skirt pattern, you can take one of the following two classes at Stitch Lab:
Here’s the simple skirt pattern. Notice that the pattern has all the information that I need to know in order to cut it out.
It has the title of the pattern, how many I need to cut out, and there is a grain line and a bias line. The bias line runs at a 45 degree angle from the grain line. Also, the pattern was drafted with a 1/2” seam allowance included.
The first thing you will want to do is prepare your fabric by pre-washing it. That way, if it’s going to shrink it will shrink before you make it rather than after.
After it’s been washed you will want to press the fabric so it’s nice and smooth and will lay flat on the table.
Lay your fabric, single layer, so that one of the selvages is even with the edge of your table. By doing this, it insures that you will be on grain.
The next step would be to pin your pattern onto the fabric. The important thing is to make sure that your bias line is running parallel to the selvage. The selvages are the two finished sides of your fabric. I achieve this by measuring and making sure each end of my bias line is equal distance to the selvage and pin them in place.
Next, I pin each corner and then around all four side of the pattern. Once pinned it is then ready to cut out. When you cut out, you want to cut out around all four side, right next to the pattern. Your goal is to cut as close as possible without actually cutting the paper. You will do this twice because the pattern tells you to cut 2.
Once you have cut your two sides, which will be the front and the back of your slip, it is now time to sew the side seams. I always pin every seam that I am going to sew.I start by pinning both ends first, then the middle, and then the rest of it.
Once pinned, It’s time to sew. The slip pattern was made to include 1/2” of seam allowance. I decided to sew this on my vintage Viking sewing machine. The only problem is that that particular machine does not have a 1/2” line on the seam plate. That’s an easy fix, though. All you will need to do is get a ruler and measure a 1/2” from where the needle is over into the seam plate. I then placed a piece of tape at the end of the ruler which is now my 1/2” seam line.
I then sewed both side seams of the slip at a 1/2” seam allowance.
Next, I used pinking shears to pink the very edge of my seam allowance. Pinking sheers help minimize fraying when being washed.
The object here is to cut away as little as possible. You don’t want to cut your seam allowance too short because it will the just fall apart or rip out. See how little I cut off.
Next you will want to press open your side seams. Just lay the slip around the ironing board. This makes it easy to press open.
Now you will have both side seams finished.
Now you need to make the casing for the elastic waist of the slip. You do this with a double fold so that both ends of the casing are finished with a fold. It will also be folded to the inside of the slip. You don’t want it to show on the right side of it. You will put the slip back onto the ironing board with the slip inside out. I do this so I can measure and press each fold.
The first fold is a 1/2” fold. I used a seam gauge to measure around the slip. I fold over the top of the slip so that the cut edge lines up with the edge of my seam gauge and the folded edge butts up against the blue marker on the seam gauge. I go around the whole top of the slip, measuring and pressing as I go.
Now it’s time to make the second fold. I am going to use 1/2” wide elastic for the slip. Your second fold needs to be the width of your elastic + 1/4” for ease. When you make a casing you will always want a little ease for you elastic to go through. If you make it the same size as your elastic, you will struggle trying to get elastic through because the casing will be too tight.
So for my slip I am using 1/2” wide elastic + 1/4” ease = 3/4” for the second fold.
With the slip still on the ironing board, I turn over the top edge for the second fold and measure and press all the way around the slip.
Now it is time to pin the casing. The one thing to remember when you go to sew the casing is that you need to leave an opening for the elastic to go through. About a 2” opening will do just fine. I mark the opening with pins but you could use chalk or a fabric marker. I usually pin the start and stop points with the pins perpendicular to the fold and the rest of the pins parallel to the fold.
Now it is time to edgestitch the bottom fold of the casing. To edgestich really means to stitch on the edge of the fold. You will be stitching, at most, 1/8” from the edge of that bottom fold. I start at one of the perpendicular pins and end, once I have gone around the whole casing, at the other. Backstitch when you start and stop.
Now there is an opening for the elastic to go into where I started and stopped.
Now I am going to measure a piece of elastic by placing it around my waist and pulling it tight enough to keep the slip on. At the same time you want to make sure it can stretch over you hips. This will help insure that you can pull the slip on and off.
Once I have the desired length of elastic I will put one safety pin on each end. With one end I will pin it to the opening of the casing. This will help prevent it from pulling through while you are feeding the other end through the casing. With the other safety pin, insert it inside of the casing and gather the casing over the safety pin and start working the safety pin all the way around the whole casing.
Once through the other end make sure the elastic has not twisted inside the casing. Do this by feeling around the whole casing, you will feel it if it has twisted. Gently pull on both ends of elastic so that there is a good amount of it sticking out of both sides.
Take both ends and overlap them by about 1/2” and pin to hold them together.
Now place the joined elastic under the presser foot with the pin still in it. Lower the presser foot onto the elastic and pin.
Switch your machine to the zig zag stitch and use a wider zig zag. Now remove the pin and sew the elastic together with the zig zag stitch. Stitch back and forth by backstitching. It should look something like this when done.
Now pick the slip up and pull on the casing to bring the elastic back into it. It should now look like this.
Now stretch the opening so it will be flat. Pin it closed and edgstitch the opening closed. Backstitch when you start and stop.
This is what the waist of your slip should look like when done.
Now you’re almost done. It’s time to hem. Turn the slip inside out and slip back onto the ironing board.
I decided to do a narrow, double hem because I am going to add lace to the hem.
I basically folded the hem 1/4” twice. I used my seam gauge, measuring and ironing around the whole hem of the slip at 1/4”.
I then turned the hem up a second time by measuring again 1/4” and pressing into place.
I then took my cotton lace and placed it to the inside of the hem lining up the top edge of the lace to the top of the hem.
I also offset the start of the lace at one of the side seams.
I then began pinning it in place around the whole hem. I pinned on the outside of the slip, for sewing it, to insure that my hem is sewn straight and is even. This just makes it look nice from the right side.
Once I made it all the way around the hem with the lace, I pinned the lace to sew it together. This is basically putting a seam in the lace so it’s joined and looks like it continuously goes around the hem.
I then sewed it and trimmed it. After I trimmed it, I used a zig zag stitch to bind the raw edge of the lace to keep it form fraying.
I then pinned the lace, once it was joined, back to the hem of the slip. I then sewed the hem and lace on the right side of the slip all the way around the hem. I backstitched when I started and stopped.
Here’s a close-up of the finished hem
And now you’re DONE!!!!!