Lexi's T-Shirt Dressmaking Sewing Instructions

Questions?    Please email me at dressforachange@gmail.com 
Sewing Instruction Video
Sorry for the barking in background, I hope it doesn't cause too much inconvenience.
 Where to purchase Ruffle T-Shirts for Dresses
A word about the T-shirts I used for this project.  Please note that the fabric I am adding to the bottom of the T-shirts to make a dress is possible because I started with T-shirts that had an attached ruffle.  If you sew fabric to a normal T-shirt, you could possibly lose the stretch on the bottom of the T-shirt necessary to put the garnment over the head and shoulders.  I recommend using the Girls Ruffle T-shirts that you can purchase at Dharma Trading Company (it is a website that offers quality clothing for Tie-Dye and coloring).  Here is a link for the company.  I hope this is helpful for your troop, church, or organization that wishes to start your own T-shirt dress donation project for girls in need in your community.  Click on the shopping cart and you will be redirected to Dharma Trading Company.  When you get to their website, type "Girls Ruffle Tee" in the search box to find the same shirts I used for this project.  



Supplies You Will Need To Make    T-shirt Dresses and Other Helpful Instructions
​ 

  • 2 Girls Ruffle T-Shirts
  • Sewing Machine
  • Matching Thread (white, black, dark green and a matching color of skirt)
  • One yard of 100% Cotton Colorful Fabric for skirt ~ choose fun prints 
  • Small black fabric square (2-1/2" x 2-1/2")
  • Vintage Girl Scout Junior Badge or Fun Patch (found on eBay)
  • Rotary Cutter, Omnigrid ruler measuring 24" x 6", and Rotary Cutting Mat (adult supervision for this step, please)
  • Iron, Ironing Board, Measuring Tape, Pins
  • Start with 1 yard of fabric, minimum 42" wide.  One yard of fabric makes 2 T-shirt Dresses.
  • Cut the fabric exactly in half, along the manufacturer's lengthwise fold line, to make 2 large pieces measuring 36" x 21".
  • Line up the fabric pieces wrong sides together (so right sides are out).
  • Fold the pieces in half, so that you have a measurement of 18" x 21".
  • Measure the crosswise width (selvage edges to cut edges).  You should have a minimun measurement of 21".  Divide your measurement in half (you should have a measurement between 10-1/2" to 11-1/2", depending on the original width of the fabric).
  • Starting at the fold, find the half-way point, using a rotary cutter, cut it in half.
  • You should end up with 4 strips measuring approx. 36" long by 11" wide, and these strips are all cut on the lengthwise grain of the fabric.  The lengthwise grain of the fabric is important for gathering and hemming the strips to form a skirt, as your fabric will not stretch and distort as you sew.
  • Do not cut off the selvage edge because this selvage edge can be used for the narrow hem.
  • For my project "Dress For A Change" I added a Vintage Junior Girl Scout Badge that was sewn on top of a black fabric square.  To continue this idea for your project (so the girls wearing the dresses will be inspired to join Girl Scouts or Girl Guides) you will need a black fabric square measuring 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" and a badge smaller than 2" that will fit into the square.

Step 1:  Preparing the skirt with Flat Felled Seams (if you have a serger, you can serge the side seams instead of preparing Flat Felled Seams)

   
  • With right sides together (RST) and using a 5/8” seam, pin together the short ends of the 36” x 11” fabric pieces, stitch, backstitching at beginning and end of seams.  Repeat for both seams, forming a loop for the skirt.

  • On wrong side, press the seams open.  Trim off ¼” of one seam flap, but not both. 

  • On opposite seam flap, press and turn under ¼” toward center seam.  And then press this folded flap over the ¼” leftover flap on the opposite side of the seam.

  • Stitch the folded seam down close to folded edge to professionally finish the seam.

  • Repeat flat felled seams for both side seams.

    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
  5. Managing Director
  6. Managing Director
  7. Managing Director
  8. Managing Director
  9. Managing Director

Step 2:  Narrow Hem Lower Edge of Skirt

   
  • ​Look at your fabric to determine if you have a directional print.  If so, make sure your are hemming the lower edge of the directional fabric so design will not be upside down at the end of your project.

  • Press under ¼” along lower edge of skirt.  Fold over another ¼”, press, and pin.

  • On wrong side, stitch hem in place close to folded edge.
    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director

Step 3:  Gather top edge of skirt

   
  • Place a very narrow cord (minimum 2 yards in length) and the largest and longest zig-zag stitch setting on your sewing machine.  Zig-zag stitch over the cording, being very careful not to catch the cord with your needle.  Backstitch at the beginning and the end.

  • Or you can gather the top edge without using a cord.  From each side seam, stitch a long basting stitch ¼” from edge of fabric.  Gather the front and the back of the skirt equally between the 2 side seams of the T-shirt.

  • Gather slightly and equally between the two side seams.  Since the bottom of the T-shirt is a ruffle, the fabric skirt you are creating will not need too much gathering to fit.

    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director

Step 4:  Attach Skirt to T-Shirt

   
  • STOP!  For this Dress For A Change Project, we used T-shirts that had an attached lower ruffle.  If your T-shirt does not have a lower ruffle, you will need to add one, making sure you are using T-shirt stretch fabric.  You can purchase girls' ruffle tees at www.dharmatrading.com.

  • Turn the T-shirt inside out.  Place the gathered skirt right sides together (RST), inside the T-shirt, lining up the bottom edge of the T-shirt to the gathered edge of the skirt, and lining up the left and right side seams of the T-shirt to the side seams of the skirt.

  • Pin together every ½”, adjusting gathers as necessary, and keeping side seams lined up with several pins to avoid misalignment.

  • Before stitching, check that the T-shirt front and back are lined up with a skirt front and back, with side seams aligned.

  • Using a regular stitch, stitch a ½” seam to the left of the gathered edge, and slightly to the left of the cording.  Backstitch at beginning and the end.

  • If you used cording to gather the skirt, remove the cording now.
    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director

Step 5:  Under Stitch / Top Stitch

   
  • On wrong side, press ruffled skirt seam towards T-shirt.

  • Turn T-shirt right side out.

  • Load top thread in sewing machine to match the color of the T-shirt.

  • Using long basting stitches or long zig-zag stitches, baste ¼” above seam on T-shirt to help secure the ruffled skirt seam underneath.  Backstitch at beginning and ends.
    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director

Step 6:  OPTIONAL ~ Attach Vintage Girl Scout Junior Badge and Dress For A Change Badge.  ​(If you are making donation dresses for Heshima Kenya Program, you can add a "Fun Patch".  You can find Girl Scout fun patches and badges on eBay).  

   
  • Load black thread in top and bobbin.

  • Press under ¼” on all four sides of black fabric square.  On front, top stitch around all sides.  (Please do not exceed ¼” when pressing to ensure badge will fit.)  Press.

  • Center and pin in place the Girl Scout Badge on the front of the black fabric square.  (Please be careful and note direction of the badge is centered between two straight side edges and two straight top and bottom edges of the black fabric square.)

  • Load your top thread with dark green thread, to match the Girl Scout Badge.  Using a zig-zag stitch, stitch the badge around the embroidered edges to the black fabric square.

  • Pin the Girl Scout Badge/Black Fabric Square to the front lower skirt, 6” from the left seam, and ¼” from the bottom.   Please see photo below to ensure a standard placement requested by the owner of this project.

  • Load BLACK top thread in sewing machine.  Top stitch on all 4 sides of black badge fabric, close to folded edge.  Backstitch at beginning and end.

  • Center the “Dress For A Change” badge ¼” above the Vintage Junior Badge to secure it to the skirt.  Stitch all 4 sides using a small zig-zag stitch over embroidered edges of the badge.  See photos.
    
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director

Step 7:  Congratulations!  Completed Dresses Gallery

  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director