July 12, 2011

Easy Toddler’s Shirred T-shirt Dress: Tutorial


Are you ready for one of the quickest, easiest projects ever?  There are a few different ways you can make this dress, but I’m just going to show you how I made it.  Feel free to change things how you like them!  I’m not going to be really thorough with this tutorial because it’s so easy and you can figure a lot out by yourself.  Also, some machines don’t do well with elastic thread, so research that online to see if your machine will work with it before trying it out.


For this dress, I just used a basic t-shirt and one of my shirts I no longer wanted, both made out of knit. DSC_0503

What I liked about my shirt was that it curved around the bottom edge.  You can cut your skirt portion of the dress to be curved if desired, and just hem the bottom, but be aware that if you have to adjust the fit after shirring that some of your curve might be cut off.  Alternately, you don’t have to hem the bottom at all if using knit!  Since mine already curved and I liked that detail, I used the existing hem of the shirt for B’s dress.DSC_0502

I cut two layers out.  If you aren’t using a shirt and don’t want a curved hem, you can just cut one long strip of fabric so you only have one seam (like in THIS tutorial).  If making the hem curved, you’ll want two pieces for the skirt.  Measure from about the armpits down to about the knee (or wherever you’d like the length of the dress to be).  You’ll also need to measure below the armpits around the torso and double that—knit shirrs really well and it would be better to have too much than not enough.  ________

I sewed mine in a tube by sewing the side seams right sides together before shirring, but you’ll only want to do this if you are confident that you about the right amount of fabric.  Otherwise, just sew one side seam for now (again, if you have a curved hem you might have to adjust the side seams if you have too much fabric).


Using elastic thread in just your bobbin, shirr about 4 rows.  I’ve pointed to this tutorial before in my shirred Poppy Dress Tutorial, but Disney at Ruffles and Stuff has a great shirring tutorial HERE.  Once you’ve shirred and achieved the look you want, sew the side seams or side seam, or in my case, do nothing because I already sewed both side seams ;). 


Pin the skirt portion to the t-shirt just under the armpits, or wherever you want it.   You can’t see the pins, but I only pinned in four spots.  The middle of the front, both sides, and the middle of the back.  DSC_0518

Starting at one of the pins, just sew on top of the top shirred line.  It’s best to do this with the elastic thread still in the bobbin so the t-shirt stretches as well.  I didn’t do that, and it kind of pulls when I put the dress on B, but it still worked with regular thread in the bobbin.  So in between the pins, I pulled the skirt portion and the t-shirt towards me together so that it became the same length and kind of gathered the t-shirt as I sewed along (the skirt portion was narrower than the t-shirt portion once shirred).  I just sewed one line, but you can do more than that if you want to!DSC_0522DSC_0524

Cut off the extra portion of the t-shirt on the inside.  Since it’s knit, you don’t have to finish any edges.  DSC_0527

Even though I kind of made this post longer than necessary, it really is so easy so don’t let my wordiness deter you!DSC_0574


Don’t forget to enter to win some zippers HERE!


  1. Ooh! This is lovely - such a cute little girl too!

  2. love it! I think I'll make myself one...

  3. Cute dress!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  4. What a creative way to use that yellow and grey stripped shirt. Very darling model too!

  5. I love easy dresses. It's very cute Christie.

  6. So cute! I'm going to try this. I'm your newest follower!

  7. So cute! I still need to try that elastic thread. I hope it'll work in my old machine.

  8. Adorable! I think I need one for me. I've been contemplating a new swim cover up and I think this might be perfect! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sweet and lovely little girl in a beautyful sun shinne dress. You are fantastic with all your ideas. ♥♥♥

  10. That is a really cute little outfit and those colors look really nice on her. Great job!

  11. I meant to ask you if you had made it. She looked super cute in it!

  12. Hi Christie,

    Another adorable idea for little girls. I'll be adding this to AllFreeSewing and on your designer profile shortly!

    Hope you're having a great summer. You know where to reach me if you'd like me to add anything else to the site.


  13. Too cute. I was thinking about doing something like this. Great post.


  14. Super cute! I always tend to gravitate toward stripes when sewing with knits (and they seem to be more readily available)--any tips for keeping them lined up perfectly like yours turned out? I have such a hard time with that!
    Thank you!

  15. I LOVE this! Thank you for the tutorial!



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