Wednesday, January 19, 2011

the "Kate" dress

I have seen tons of tutorials all over the internet showing how to attach a skirt to a shirt and make a dress.  I've seen tutorials for girls of all ages and had been wanting to finally make one myself.  Today, I finally did!  I didn't follow any specific tutorial that was out there, just kind of made it up as I went along... so I figured I'd share my own tutorial on what I did.  And just for fun, I'm going to call this the "Kate" dress - just cause it's fun to name stuff :)
kate dress preview

  • Shirt
  • Fabric for the skirt
  • coordinating fabric for the band at the bottom and the optional belt/tie
  • sewing machine
  • matching or coordinating thread
  • scissors
  • measuring tape
Step 1:  Choose your shirt
The shirt you choose should fit your child, at least in the head/arms/chest area.  This is a great project for tops that are stained on the lower half or are a little short for normal wear.  Ours fell into the category of simply being too short.

Step 2: Measure and Cut
Figure out where you want the skirt to begin, and mark it.  Add a half inch to this mark (for seam allowance) and cut the bottom of the shirt off.  Since the shirt I chose was a polo shirt, I made mine fall about 2 inches below the bottom button.  In retrospect, I should have made it closer... maybe just one inch below.

Step 3: Measure some More
Lay your shirt out flat and measure across the bottom.  Mine was 11".  Take this measurement and multiply it by 2.  This is the width that your skirt fabric should be.  Now, figure out low long you want the dress to be, then add an inch for seam allowances - subtract the width of the band for the bottom (in Step 5).  It's easiest to measure the person who will wear it... but if they are unavailable, then you'll have to just wing it.  I measured, but still somehow mine turned out way longer than I intended.

Step 4: Cut your skirt using the measurements from the step above.  You'll need two pieces - one for the front, one for the back.

Step 5: Cut the piece for the bottom band.
Decide how wide you want your bottom band to be, then cut a strip of fabric the same width of the skirt piece but the height that you want it to be plus 1 inch.  You need two pieces, just like you did for the skirt.

Step 6: Sew the band to the skirt.  Make sure right sides are together.  Press.

** I like to zig zag stitch the raw edges together (or serge it if you have a serger).  It makes for a more professional look and is more durable as well.

Step 7: Sew the gathering stitch at the top of the skirt.
At the top of each skirt piece, make your gathering stitches - I like to make 2... one at 1/2 inch and one at 1/4 inch.  I'm not completely sure what the purpose of this is, but I've seen it lots other places.  It does always help me if I break one of the strings while I am gathering then I still have another to work with so that I don't have to start over.
Oh, and for a gathering stitch... you just need a really loose straight stitch with no backstitching at the ends.  This way you can pull the thread at the ends and gather your stitching.  I've also seen people make their tension on their machine really tight, and the stitch really loose and the machine can gather it automatically for you.  This has never worked for me... but try it if you'd like.

Step 8: Sew your skirt together
Place your front and back skirt pieces right sides together.  Stitch up the side seams making sure that your bottom border pieces match up evenly.  Zig Zag or serge the raw edges and press flat.

Step 9: Hem the skirt
Go ahead and hem the bottom of your skirt at this point. I like to fold the edge over 1/4" and press, then fold over again and press, then stitch.

Step 9: Gather your stitches
I like to go ahead and gather my stitches as tight as they will go... or at least pretty closely (be careful to not break your strings though).  If you gather it much smaller than you know it should be then you can always spread out your stitches to the actual width a little easier and spread them out evenly.

Step 10: Pin your skirt to your shirt
To start, you should make sure that your right side of your shirt and the right side of your skirt are facing each other.  Slide the shirt inside your skirt (right sides facing) and line up the edges.  I like to start pinning at the side seams.

Step 11: Stitch your skirt to your shirt.
Stitch your top ans skirt together and then Zig Zag the raw edges and press flat.

Step 12: See what you've got!
Turn your dress right side out and see how far you've come!  Looks great doesn't it?  Now, you can leave it as is and have a perfectly beautiful dress... but why stop here??


Step 13: Do a little topstitching...
With your dress turned right side out, top stitch around where the skirt and shirt meet, also top stitch on the band.  The top stitching gives it more of a professional look, and also helps reinforce your seams a bit.

Step 14:  If you want, add a little belt/tie
I thought it would be cute to add a little belt to this... my daughter had other ideas and didn't want to wear it.  If you'd like one... choose your fabric (I made mine the same width as the original skirt pieces 22")  YOu'll need one piece twice the height that you want the finished belt to be... mine was 1" tall so I cut it 2".

Fold and press the fabric in half (right sides together) then stitch around the open edges - leave the ends open for turning.

Turn belt right side out and press flat.  Fold in the edges and press those in too.IMG_7840
then Top stitch.

Ta-Da!  You are done... now go find your favorite little girl and try it on!

I had a feeling that mine was a little long... and when I tried it on NK, it fit - but was definitely on the long side.  I wanted to fix it, but she had other ideas.  Apparently the dress was a hit because she didn't want to take it off.  She wore it all day long :)

She even let me take her picture :)  It's pretty rare that she'll allow me to take her picture anymore, so this was great!

Anyway... hope you enjoyed my little tutorial.  I hope this was helpful!  If you have any questions, please ask in the comments section.  If you make one... I'd love to see it!



  1. Great dress! I love how you used a polo! And that fabric is one of my new faves! I just made my daughter a peasant dress from it not too long ago!

  2. Love this!! Makes me want to get crafting... :)

  3. I love this idea. My little girl is long waisted, so her shirts are always getting too short before they are too small in the shoulders. This is a perfect way to extend their wear.

  4. Very cute dress! I love re-purposing stuff!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...