Confession: I love to sew, but when it comes to little girls’ dresses I’m a cheater. I often start with a T-shirt.
Do you gals do this too? My sis-in-law Kim is the one who taught me how, and got me hooked on it.
All you have to do is buy a T-shirt for a couple of dollars, new or second hand, and raid your fabric stash for something coordinating. You can use a plain T and smarten with a fabric flower for a little pop of color and texture…
Or buy a polo for a dressier look.
Cut the shirt off short, for a high-waisted look. Nothing worse on this pattern than having the skirt starting down around her hips.
Now it’s time to choose a skirt! You can go a couple of ways: a slim, flared skirt, or a gathered waist.
For a perfect fit, measure the width of the T-shirt at the bottom (it’s usually 12 inches, in Kelly’s 5 T size), and cut fabric to match. Don’t forget to figure seam allowances, for a total of 13” or so. Now flare the skirt wide—I like it about 22” wide at the bottom.* This is important so your little lady has wiggle room to sit modestly/ run/ climb trees/ things like that.
(*I mean on both front skirt and back skirt, for a total of 44″)
I kept the skirt too straight on this one from last year—you can see it pulling up around her legs instead of draping nicely. She couldn’t wear it very long.
Sew the skirt seams first, then stitch the finished skirt onto the T-shirt bodice.
I usually prefer the look of a slim tapered skirt, unless I’m trying for something sweet with ruffles. Gathering fabric onto an already loose T quickly becomes elephantine, so be careful—and add a tie-belt to tuck in the fullness.
(Simple tip: Use store-bought ribbon for a belt, melted at the ends with a flame to prevent fraying.)
T-shirt fabric can stretch when sewn, but sewing it against a durable cotton fabric actually holds it in place very nicely. Pin it in plenty of places to make sure, before you sew the waist.
Hem up the skirt, and add embellishments if you like. A flower, a pocket, rickrack, whatever you please.
Yes, I pulled that blue one out of the laundry hamper for this picture. Sorry about that.
And now all your sewing problems are solved, right? Unless you have brainless moments like I do, and still sew an occasional seam inside out, with the raw edge on the right side. Ugh. Been there, done that.
But most times? Easy peasy. And you have a whole new dress without worrying about sleeves or necklines or facings. Awesome!
I am not very good at explaining these things, so if you have questions please ask.