how to make a dress out of a t-shirt that is too big for you

Vegan MoFo kind of burned me out on food blogging, so I'm going to spend a few entries not talking about food. But I promise I'll do a "food from literature" this month, featuring James's Portrait of a Lady. I'll also do a review of our wedding and honeymoon! (I promise to stick mostly to food/crafts so I don't get too sappy.)

Anyway. I don't really wear T-shirts, mostly because I don't look good in them. Even the ones that are cut for women aren't very flattering on me. However, I own a lot of T-shirts, and I really like the designs or messages on some of them, so I try to turn them into things I do like. Last year I posted an entry on making throw pillow covers from old T-shirts; today, a dress!
Before instructions, a couple notes. First of all, I'm not great at sewing. I'm not saying that out of modesty; I mean it. I mostly sew for repairs, and I make the occasional pillow cover. So when I say this dress is easy, I mean it: YOU CAN DO IT! It takes measuring, and a lot of time to sew if you don't have a sewing machine (I don't), but it is not complicated. I give overly wordy instructions, mostly because I hate when I'm trying to do a project and annnnything is left to the imagination (In cases like that, my imagination will inevitably steer me wrong.), but don't let that fool you: this dress is easy.

For this dress, the bigger the T-shirt, the better, since it'll be longer that way. I'm 5'8 and the shirt I used was a large. It's sort of a minidress, suitable to wear to a club night without leggings, but I normally wear leggings with it. I'm sorta prudish, though, and have long legs, so bolder and/or shorter girls would be probably fine without leggings. You can also make this project with a shirt that's more your size, but in that case it'll be more of a tank top or tunic. If you want a dress, I recommend a shirt that is at least two sizes too big (i.e., if you normally wear medium t-shirts, an extra large).

ALSO, until someone complimented this dress, I didn't realize anyone else would want to make it, so this tutorial is written a while after the fact. Soooo you get cartoony illustrations instead of pictures of the first part. (The second part--straps--is easier for me to recreate for photos, since I always have extra sleeves lying around.) In my illustrations, it's a black T-shirt, and the green circle is just to show the location of a design if there is one on your shirt. Red lines mean you should cut there, and blue means sew.
  1. Start with a T-shirt that is too big for you.
  2. Cut away the sleeves, including the seam where it attaches to the shirt. (Save them! We will make straps out of them!)
  3. Cut off the neck and shoulders.
  4. Cut away the seams, if they're there, or just cut the sides open, if it's seamless. If you don't want it fitted, you can just cut straight lines. If you don't want it fitted (that is, if you want it to be be more of a tube dress), move on to #5.
    a.) If you wanted fitted, like I did, measure yourself: bust, waist, low waist, and hip/bum. Make a template of your torso (I used a taken-apart paper grocery bag). Remember to halve your measurements on the template (i.e., if you have a 28" waist, you want to draw a 14" waist, since front 14" + back 14" = 28"). Use it as a stencil on the center of your cloth. Turn the cloth inside-out so your marks won't show in case you make a mistake! Also, as you trace your stencil/template, try to leave an extra 1/4-1/2" on either side to leave room for mistakes/sewing. (You can draw your torso right on the dress if you want to skip the template step, but I'm not that good at eyeballing my shape.)
  5. Turn the front and back pieces inside out, if you haven't already, then pin them together so they don't slip apart and become unsymmetrical while you're sewing. Sew up the sides. If you have a sewing machine, this will probably take you like 2 minutes. If you're like me and are doing it by hand, put on a movie and curl up on the couch with your needle and thread, because this is going to take a while. I use a backstitch, but a running stitch would be fine, or a whipstitch if you didn't leave yourself that extra room for mistakes/sewing.
  6. You have a tube dress! You can stop here and leave it as a tube dress if it's fitted enough not to fall down, and/or you can sew a draw-string into the top of the dress. But if you want straps:
  7. Take one of the sleeves you cut off in step #2. Cut away the seam so that the wider side is even.
  8. How thick do you want your straps? T-shirt material rolls at the edges when cut, so they'll be narrower than what you measure. I wanted straps that were thick enough to cover a bra strap, so I cut out about two inches. You should measure a section almost twice as wide as what you want, so if you want thin of even spaghetti straps, cut it an inch wide. Decide what you want, and cut accordingly.
  9. Cut away the seam. You should now have one strip of cloth.
  10. Repeat with the other sleeve.
  11. Try on your dress and figure out where you want the straps to hit. Like I said, I wanted to make sure it covered bra straps, so I centered the straps over where my bra showed). Pin in place. The straps will probably be longer than your shoulders; cut away the extra material before you pin.
  12. Attach to dress. I used a whipstitch, but it would also be cute to use buttons or broaches or just hold it in place with a series of safety pins.
Note: If you want adorable and/or contrasting straps, you could attach ribbon or something instead of using the sleeves.
You're done! Enjoy the fact that you just turned a T-shirt into a dress.