Upcycled T-shirt Dress

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If you like the coziness of wearing a T-shirt, then you’re going to love making that T-shirt into a dress. It feels like cheating, because it is like wearing your pajamas out in public and getting away with it. You’ll never look at used items the same way again!
The main elements here are two T-shirts; one that fits you, and one that is far too big for you. The top half is fitted, and the lower half is a gathered skirt, but you are in control of where the two meet, so you can place this junction at the most flattering part of your upper body.
This is the kind of dress that pretty much suits everyone. The only thing to consider, if you are slightly larger than average, is that you will need to find a T-shirt that is larger than your widest measurement below the bust.
Restricting your search to either stable 100 percent cotton knits, or a cotton and lycra blend, is best.
This Upcycled T-shirt Dress tutorial was excerpted with permission from "Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers."

Step 1

• A T-shirt that fits your upper body and is at least as long as your natural waist
• A T-shirt that is at least a few inches wider than your hip
• 1-1 ⁄ 2 yds (1.4 m) elastic, 1 ⁄ 2 in (1.25 cm) wide
• Thread
• 80/12 or 70/11 ball-point needles for sewing knit fabrics
When searching for the lower, wider portion of the dress, check out the men’s section at your local thrift shore!
The key to this dress is finding the right T-shirts for the two halves of the dress. Try to find fabrics of similar content and weight so that the fabric is consistent where they meet at the waist.

Step 2

Measure down from the shoulder to where you want the skirt to be attached. Add 1⁄2 in (1.25 cm) to the measurement for the seam allowance for sewing on the skirt, then draw a line across the T-shirt at this point.
Cut along the line drawn in Step 1 to create the top half
of the T-shirt dress. Discard the lower half of the T-shirt.

Step 3

On the T-shirt to be used for the skirt portion, draw a line across the shirt just under the sleeve. Cut along that line to create the bottom half of the dress.
Measure the opening at the bottom of the top and add 1 in (2.5 cm) to this measurement. Cut a piece of elastic to this length. Overlap the ends of the elastic by 1⁄2 in (1.25 cm) and sew them together with a zigzag stitch.
Go back and forth a few times to secure the join.

Step 4

Divide the circle of elastic into four equal parts and mark each spot with a pin.

Step 5

Insert the circle of elastic into the top of the skirt. Divide the top of the skirt portion into four equal parts and pin the elastic in place at each spot.

Step 6

Select a zigzag stitch and insert the elastic and skirt into your machine at one of the pinned spots. Lower the presser foot and sink the needle into the elastic. Stretch the elastic from the needle to the first pin, matching the length of the skirt.
Sew your way around the whole skirt, keeping the zigzag stitches near the top of the elastic so that there is a little room to the left of the stitches on the elastic.
After you’ve gone all the way around, the skirt will be gathered up into the elastic and ready to be attached to the top half of the dress.

Step 7

Turn the skirt right side out and the top half wrong side out. Slip the skirt portion through the neck opening and line up the raw edges around the top of the skirt and the bottom of the top.
Because the elastic was cut to fit the top, the skirt should now be the same size as the top.
Pin in place.

Step 8

Just underneath the zigzag stitching, but remaining on the elastic, stitch the skirt to the top with a straight stitch.
Because the elastic has been gathered with the zigzag, the straight stitches will not snap when the dress is put on or taken off.

Step 9

You could use scraps from the sleeves of the T-shirt chosen for the bottom to make some patch pockets for the skirt. Or, if you want a third fabric, find a T-shirt with pockets on it. Remove the pockets and sew them onto your skirt. Why not? They’re already made!
There is no need to limit yourself to just T-shirts for the top half of the dress. Mix it up and choose an upcycled tank top. Both tight and loose versions would work just fine, depending on how fi tted or breezy you’d like your dress to be.

Step 10

This Upcycled T-shirt Dress tutorial was excerpted with permission from "Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers."

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