Toddler Dress from Men’s Dress Shirt

I spent a lot of time searching for the right inspiration for this project, in the end I didn’t follow any patterns. My dad was getting rid of a few old dress shirts of his that I thought would work so well for a dress for my youngest because I just loved the feel of the fabric for a nice summer dress.

I started by using a stitch remover to get rid of the arm’s, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cut it because I wasn’t 100% sure what I was doing yet.


Then I put it on my little girl to try and decide how I needed to modify it. I decided to make a cut at the top of the third button (so the top part had the first two buttons). The bottom of the shirt was set aside for later. Once again I put the top part of the shirt on my little girl to try and decide how much of the color to remove. I decided that I needed to get rid of 5 inches. The entire top needed between 4 & 5 inches removed so I folded the collar in half and cut down along side the entire piece (see image below).


Then, I decided to remove 2 inches from the collar, I measured in several spots and placed pins a little under so I can cut with the pins as a guide. Here is one half pinned and the other cut.


Ok, here’s the part I messed up, (but was able to fix) so check your work! I pinned the two pieces back together starting at the collar. Make sure you line the pieces up, they may not match 100%. If you want the seem in the back to be center make sure you line them up with the outside pieces first. Then pin them up and sew. One thing to keep in mind, The collar folds over, so if you sew the two pieces together the same way both ways you will end up seeing a seam somehow. You can sew the first half of the collar one way then sew the rest of the top part the opposite way to hide the seams. Here is what it looked with the top collar part being sewn correct and the rest of it sewn wrong. I figured out that I had it wrong after I ironed the seam down to one side. To fix it I sewed just the top collar part twice to keep the seam part down. (Not really sure how to explain that part).


Once I was done fixing and re-enforcing the stitching on the back I put it on my little girl again to see how much I needed to remove. I checked in two places, the top of her shoulders and around her waist. I decided to remove 3 inches from each side on the top shoulders and 2 inches around her waist. I pinned where I wanted to cut again:


Once I cut both sides, I ironed each side folding over twice so the edge was totally hidden. Then in some of the thicker spaces I used pins to help keep the fold in place. Once I sewed those two spots I ironed the bottom 3 pieces (back, front left side, and front right side), this time only folding over once because it would be inside and not seen.

Now, I realized I forgot to take a few pictures of how I did this. So Here’s one to show you where I cut on the shirt for the top half. I guessed on where to cut for the bottom, I decided to cut right under where the pocket was. The middle piece in the picture was not used, the entire bottom piece will be used as the bottom skirt part.


Now, time to clear off a nice big space and get logs of pins. The first thing I did was pin the arm holes.


To start with I pinned up the front left side, back left side, back right side, and front right side. On the front pieces I Pinned the button hole/button seems matching them up. The 4 sections all have the “loose” material.


Now, for each section I found about the middle and pinned, then did that twice more for the two spots so for each of the 4 sections I had 3 pins each.


Ok, finally, time to start pinning the skirt material flat. Start by pinching the material so it is flat with the material looped up.


Use a finger to push down on the loop to flatten it. Then place two pins to keep the folds in place, see the pins to the left on image for how it should look like once pinned.


Here is what an entire section looks like from the inside and outside.


All done! Here is the front and back of the entire dress pinned. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture below but the back of the dress has more material than the front because in the arm area I did not want to sew 3 seems.


Then sew! What I found to work well was to sew slowly taking a pin or two out and stitch a few while trying to stay in the center. Then once all the pins were out I sewed along the entire dress again 2-3 stitches towards the top of the dress, then after re-enforcing the stitches I turned the dress over and stitched one more time across the entire dress, but this time I stitched the bottom of the top seam. This is what I have so far. The dress could be considered done…but I think it needs a little something so I’m going to sew some ribbon along the waist. You could sew belt loops and add a belt, or keep it as is.


I found some Minnie Mouse ribbon that finishes the dress!





3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thebeautifulcraft
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 16:08:32

    This is fantastic, upcycling at it’s most creative


  2. Ro
    May 26, 2017 @ 11:54:29

    When cutting the collar to fit your child, did you actually cut 5 inches from the middle or groom the suffers? I’m just not sure how you get the neck to fit if you didn’t cut it from the middle of the collar. Also if you did that did the collar lay right?


    • Amy Elliott
      May 26, 2017 @ 12:17:01

      I did cut the top piece in half along the middle of the back, so the collar has the same amount on both pieces. I decided to cut 2 inches from both sides, then about half an inch more was removed when sewing the two pieces back together. Depending on the age of the child and size of the shirt, you will want to have them try it on and see how much needs to be removed. I always reinforced my stitches when sewing for kids, this also helps keep the seem flatter so everything lays well. I didn’t have any issues with the collar laying funny.


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