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Topic: button shirt to toddler dress recon *MINTY FRESH TUTORIAL*  (Read 913068 times)
Tags for this thread: skirt , tutorial , recon , shirt , craftster_best_of_2007 , toddler , girls_clothes  Add new tag
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« on: May 14, 2007 04:01:19 PM »

(Also see livvyloo's awesome tutorial for making matching sleevy pants out of leftover long sleeves.)

I picked up this shirt at the Goodwill recently - boring shirt, but interesting fabric. I was thinking I'd recon it for myself when the little girl demanded to "hold mommy's new shirt." I took one look at her clutching it, and i knew it was meant to be hers...



Now i guess it's time to make a matching diaper cover! Wink

So ridiculously EASY! (with the exception of the knife pleated trim - i have no idea what posessed me to put myself through that!) All I needed was a few measurements - no need to make a pattern or anything. Using the original shirt's buttons, etc. saved me from that nonsense. The back yoke made a nice lined bodice - it was even slightly gathered where it joins with the skirt part. The straps used the existing sleeves - I made one straight cut to get each strap piece. And they are one piece with elastic - no gathering! yay!

Thanks for looking!

(click small pics for larger versions)
Okay, my first tutorial! I apologize in advance for any math you may have to do. Hopefully it all makes sense and I wasn't overly wordy - I wasn't sure how much detail to go into about what. Please don't hesitate to ask questions! And if you find a better or quicker way to do any of this, please share!

What you'll need
  • A button down shirt with a back yoke (see above pic). I used a men's size M and was able to get a 4T out of it.
  • 1/2 inch elastic (about 1/2 a yard)
  • About 1.5 to 2 yards of trim. As for width... mine sticks out 3/8 inch at the top and 1 inch at the bottom. If you are really keen on learning to knife pleat, here is some good reference. http://slightly-obsessed.blogspot.com/search/label/Tutorials
  • Chest Measurement (of wee one all the way around)

A Couple of Terms
bodice = the back yoke of original shirt
skirt = the part below the yoke of the original shirt

Step 1: Convince your wee one she is a tiger and an empty box is her jungle. Apply snacks frequently. Wink

Step 2: Cut the shirt apart! But CAREFULLY along the seam lines. You should end up with something similar to this.

Step 3 - Dress Front: The back of the shirt will be the front of your dress. Decide where your finished top edge will be and mark it. The easiest way to determine this is to grab your little tiger out of her jungle box and hold the dress up to her (folding the top edge over). Or you can try guessing based on existing garments. My finished bodice was 4 inches from the skirt to the top edge. And if you lack a magic floating hand thing that makes fat pink lines (doesn't EVERYBODY have one of those these days?), I suppose a fabric marker or tailor's chalk will do. Wink

Next, fold the shirt back (your dress front) in half. Cut a shape like this:

Remember that the magic pink line represents your finished top edge - leave some extra above it for seam allowance.
C = Chest plus a few inches for ease, divide by 4, then add some for seam allowance. (ex: Tiger girl's chest measurement is 21 inches and I added 3 inches ease. Divided by 4 that's 6 inches. With a half inch seam allowance, that's 6.5 inches wide I needed to cut.) You can kind of guess at the length and cut long - you'll trim excess later. I knew I wanted a finished dress length of 23ish inches, so I cut this piece to measure about 18 inches from top to bottom of the skirt part - that allowed plenty for a hem or seam allowance. As for the width at the bottom, go as wide as the shirt for the fullest skirt.

Ta da!

Step 4 - Dress Back: The shirt front is going to be your dress back. The IMPORTANT thing here is to mark your finished top edge about 1/4 inch above the top of a buttonhole so you will have a button at the top of your dress. Also, at this point, you should use a seam ripper to remove any pockets from the shirt front.

Why baste when you have tape? Wink
I taped the two sides together to keep them from shifting as I folded and cut the dress back.

Fold in half and cut. (I found I needed to pin it due to the thickness.) You are going to cut the same shape as you did for the front. Use your dress front as a guide - be sure to line up the finished top edge marks so things align properly.

Ta da!

Step 5 - Straps:
Here is what your shirt sleeve hopefully looks like if you cut it open and lay it flat:

Which I guess you don't even really have to do since now I want you to fold it in half and cut it:

You are going to use the top bit. Again, hopefully it looks like this:

Now on to quickly finishing the edges. You can use your preferred method, but this is what I did... Turn the straight edge under (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch) and press. Do the same for the curved edge, but turn it under a second time and press (is that called a narrow hem?). Feel free to snip off the funky pointy end bits:

Fold up the straight edge to make a casing that fits your 1/2 inch elastic. Press. Top stitch the curved edge to finish it. (Open out your casing while you do this.) Sew the casing. Here is what you should have now:

Now thread a piece of elastic through and stitch at one end. Safety pin elastic to fabric at other end. You will be able to adjust the strap length later. I started with 8 inch pieces of elastic.

Hooray! No gathering! Smiley

Step 6 - Attaching Straps, Top Trim, Etc.:
The bodice is two layers. I'll call them the front and the lining. Fold the front piece inward along the "finished top edge" mark you made earlier and press. Fold and press the lining piece to match:

Use an existing garment or the actual wee one to determine spacing of straps. Baste the straps to the front piece only. Then pin the front bodice to the lining, sandwiching a piece of trim in there behind the straps, and sew across close to the top edge. Making the trim is left as exercise for the reader. Wink You could leave it off, but I found the neckline was lower than I wanted without the trim. (You could shorten the straps and cut a curve at the underarm if you don't want to do trim. Take a look at a "real" dress to see what I'm talkin' about.)

Step 7 - Finish Back Edge: Unbutton the top few buttons - you don't want to space out and sew your two sides together! Finish the top edge on both sides, remembering to use your finished top edge mark you made earlier. I trimmed excess off the top, turned under 1/4 inch, pressed, turned under another 1/4 inch, pressed, then top stitched. Alternately, I suppose you could make a facing or something, but I'm pretty sure it would involve making a buttonhole, and who wants to do that? Wink Sorry I don't have a pic of the process, but here is the inside back of the finished dress. (Uhhh... I'm pretty sure it's just the angle that makes it look so uneven. Yeah...):

Step 8 - Sew Front to Back: Do this in the usual way. With right sides together, top edges lined up, etc. After I did this, I found the top line of stitching on the back didn't line up with that on the front, so I stitched another line across the front. Also, I used my overlock on the side seam allowances and then sewed them down (is there some fancy name for that?).

Step 9 - Attach Straps to Back: Turn dress right side out and make sure it's buttoned. Lay dress flat with back facing up and front/back top edges lined up. Use the safety pins to attach straps to back of dress, and try it on the wee one if possible. (While you're at it, you can check the length of dress for hemming purposes.) Adjust elastic to lengthen or shorten straps. I did some stuff to the end of the strap here to have a tiny bit nicer finish, but it's more difficult to explain that it is just to do. If you are really at a loss here, I can try and explain. Anyway, assuming you have a nice fit and properly positioned straps, sew those puppies down! (I matched positioning from front and also made sure strap width at top edge was same in front and back.) I also sewed more reinforcement here. See above pic (the lowest line of stitching is not reinforcement - it is where i sewed elastic to strap). I left the straps longer than I needed because I had some vague notion I'd maybe lengthen it as the girl grew.

Step 10 - Finish bottom edge! You can simply hem here, or you can add trim, a contrasting band, a ruffle, whatever. Be sure to unbutton the dress in back, again because you don't want to sew the two sides together. I trimmed off the excess at the bottom (it ended up a couple inches too long), and then I added the knife pleated trim by sewing it to the outside of the dress (right sides together).

Then I flipped it down and top stitched.

Done! Smiley

I hope you will use this tutorial to make cute little dresses for all the little girls in your lives, but please do not use it for profit without my permission. Thank you!
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017 09:23:32 AM by meleriffic - Reason: Fixed photobucket images » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2007 04:04:36 PM »

Nope not too many pictures at all in my opinion Cheesy
What an adorable wee girl and that dress is fabulous.  It looks so pretty.


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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2007 04:05:33 PM »

That is way too cute....Not too many pics.

« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2007 04:14:02 PM »

way cute! i can't wait to have my own biddy to make things for Smiley

by the way, great photos. the first one reminds me of a catalog.
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2007 04:14:46 PM »

Sooo cute!  I love it!  The knife pleated trim looks fantastic on it.

« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2007 04:22:35 PM »

That's terribly cute. It works really well too!
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2007 04:23:36 PM »

cute. Just had to say it.
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2007 04:25:10 PM »

awh, adorable.
she's totally pulling a marilyn monroe in the last photo.

« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2007 04:44:48 PM »

That dress is adorable and I would totally love a tutorial.  And the action shots are fabulous!

« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2007 04:49:55 PM »

you would never know that used to be a man's shirt! Awesome!
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