Sunday, August 7, 2011

Up-cycling a Women's Shirt Into a Girl's Dress (or shirt).

I love going to places like Goodwill and finding cheap clothes to up-cycle for my girls! I went today and bought some, so of course I had to make a dress for Big A as soon as I got home! I confess I get a little over-excited when I have a project in mind. I have to do it RIGHT THEN and finish it.  It's not always a good thing. It usually results in late nights.....not tonight though!  Tonight I'm up at 1AM posting a blog because I know how important it is for you to know how to do this! I know you're just dying to get to the good stuff! So, here it is: 

This is the shirt I picked up for $4.95. It's an Anne Taylor LOFT women's size Medium. I have absolutely no clue what kind of fabric this is (I'm a newbie at sewing, so I have yet to learn what everything is called).  It is very thin, but it wasn't hard to work with. 

Since I'm a beginner at sewing myself, I tried to make these instructions as clear as possible for newbies. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below!

The first thing I did was cut the sleeves off with my rotary cutter. I made sure to cut right below the seam so it came off with the sleeves. 

Next, I folded the shirt in half and lined up the edges. I picked a shirt out of Big A's closet that fits her well and folded it in half also. Line the folded edges and the neckline up together. Cut beside the shirt, leaving about 1/4" for a seam allowance. 

 As you can see below, I did not cut across the bottom. You can cut across the bottom if you want to make a shirt. By not cutting mine, I made it into a dress.

You should have 2 pieces of fabric now: a front & a back. Unfold the shirt and lay the front on top of the back, right sides facing. You should be looking at what will be the inside of the front of the shirt. Pin each side together. Obviously you will NOT pin at the arm holes. Start just below there. 

Sew a straight stitch along the edges of both sides of the shirt. 

When you are finished with the straight stitch, you can either serge (if you own a serger) the raw edges together, or you can zig zag stitch if you only own a regular machine.  I do not own a serger, so I zig zag stitch and let my needle fall on the outside of the raw edge of the fabric so it finishes it off.  When you are doing this, be sure your zig zag stitch does NOT overlap your straight stitch. Keep it to the outside. 

Here is what my finished edge looks like:

At this point, I had to take a break for a very sleepy little girl who just woke up from her nap. She needed mommy time. 

Ok. Now for my very unscientific and unprofessional way to measure for the sleeves. 
I cut the sleeves apart so they would lay flat. I just cut them at the bottom center seam.  

On my sleeves, there was a short side and a long side. (You can see this better 2 pictures down). 

The short side was the side that needed to hold the shirt up, so I put the shirt on Big A, held the sleeve where it needed to be on the front, and marked where it met the shirt on the back. I then cut it about 1/2" past there to allow for the seams on the front and the back when I sew it on.

(If you look right at the middle of the top elastic, you can see my mark).

Since there was elastic on the bottom of my sleeves and I didn't want to deal with it, I just cut it off and hemmed the raw edge:

This is what it looked like when I was finished hemming:

Here, I matched up the short side of the sleeve to the front. (See above, the left side is shorter than the right).  Be sure you're matching up your raw sides at this point, and NOT your finished sides. Pin them with right sides facing, sew a straight stitch, then zigzag or serge. 

You're going to repeat that with the back of this sleeve, then do the same on the other side.
Here is what it should look like when you finish each side of your sleeve:

If you chose to cut yours shorter and make a shirt instead of a dress, you need to hem the bottom edge of your shirt now. 
Since I left mine long, no hem was needed because I didn't cut it off. 

Here is the finished product!

I used some of the scraps I cut off at the beginning and made her a hair bow and a flower to wear on the front of the shirt.

Here is my little model, Big A.



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