Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charlie's Twirly-girly T-shirt Dress

That's what I'm naming this little dress that I created for my twirly-girly Charlie. Today I'm attempting my very first sewing tutorial.
I was inspired my my fashionista SIL, Kelly, who had on a really cute dress back at Christmas time, that was basically a silk skirt sewn to the hem of a designer T-shirt. I decided to make a couple of these for Charlie for summertime. It's a REALLY inexpensive article of clothing, costing about $4 for the T-shirt, $2 for the fabric for the skirt, and a few cents for the ribbon around the hem. I also added an iron-on design, but it certainly isn't necessary. For added embellishment, you could always sew a handmade fabric flower to the top or even a ruffle around the cuff. So, for $10 or less, you have an entire outfit that's perfect for your little girl's typical summer day and really cute!

What you'll need:
One T-shirt. I bought mine at AC Moore, but you can get these anywhere. You can also use something you already have on hand. I bought a 4T for my little girl, so these instructions will be for this size, but you can easily adjust them to be a little bigger or smaller. You may also want to pre-wash, and you definitely want to if you are planning to add an iron-on design.
Cotton fabric for your skirt. I used a fat quarter. If you're not familiar, it's called a fat quarter because it's cut half the width but twice the length as a quarter yard--a quarter yard being 9" x 44", a fat quarter is 18" x 22". Quilters use them a lot, but they're really great for small projects like this. Once you have your fat quarter, cut it in half lengthwise so that you now have two pieces that are 9" x 22". You can, by all means, use a piece of fabric that is not a fat quarter, and if you do, there is no need to cut it in two pieces. You can have one piece that is 9" x 44" (a quarter yard).
Ribbon for the hem. It should be about 46", just to give you a little wiggle room on the ends, and at least 3/4" wide.

1. With right sides together, sew (or serge) both pieces of skirt fabric together at the selvedge. There is no need to finish the edge here, since it's the selvedge. If you have one piece of fabric as opposed to a fat quarter, skip this step.
2. If you have a serger, finish the top and bottom edges by serging the lengths of the fabric. If you do not have a serger, fold about 1/8" of the fabric down twice (in order to hide the cut edge) and iron it to hold in place. Sew the folded edge down on both long edges.
3. Along one of the finished long edges, pin your ribbon to the right side, being careful to hide the shirt's hem behind the ribbon. Sew the ribbon in place.

4. Use a smocking technique to gather the skirt (or use a gathering feature on your machine if you have it. To use the smocking technique (which might sound intimidating, but it's really easy), about a 1/2 down from the top of your skirt (the long side without the ribbon), just straight stitch the whole length, and leave several inches of thread at the end once you've sewn. Then grab the bottom thread, and gently pull it through, gathering the fabric. When you have gotten the fabric to the desired size (it should be the same length as the hem of your T-shirt--use a measuring tape to be sure), then even out the gathering so that it's about the same fullness all the way around. Once you've gotten things to look right, straight stitch the length again to sew it all in place.
5. Now you're ready to attach your skirt to the T-shirt! Turn your shirt inside out, and lay the skirt on top, right side down and lining up the skirt's side edge to the shirt's side seam Now sew the top hem of your skirt to the shirt, careful to cover your skirt's upper seam behind the shirt's hem.

6. To sew the skirt's side seam, put right sides together and either serge, starting at the top, or straight stitch, starting at the top and being sure to fold the edges in again (like you did in Step 5).
7. When you've finished attaching the skirt to the shirt, you can add your embellishments. Voila! Your Twirly-girly T-shirt dress!


  1. She's so cute! What a great job you did, Jen.

  2. I just wanted to tell everyone that this tutorial made it on in the Daily DIY section! Woo hoo! :)

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