First, I started with a shirt I don't wear very often - it clings in all the wrong spots. (My daughter heard me refer to my love handles and now constantly asks if she can hold onto my "handles." And the answer is no.) For some helpful sewing tips for this project, go here. Another tip - the squares on my cutting mat are 1" square.
First, I cut off the sleeves, carefully, right next to the seam (so that the seam is still attached to the sleeve).
Then, I used a shirt that goes on easily over my daughter's head. I set the shirt in the center and marked about 1/4" beyond its edge on each side, then matched the two edges of the adult shirt's neckline (since it is a v-neck, the new markings necessitated adjusting the front of the shirt up so that the neckline matches. Then, sew in a line matching the original slope of the shoulder over to the sleeve opening. Remember, use a medium width/length zig-zag stitch (if you don't have a serger), and stop frequently to make sure knit isn't stretching too much. FYI: The 3T shirt I used has a neckline that measures about 7 1/2 inches across (so that's about 15 inches "around"). I also checked the neck hole before moving to the next step by slipping it on my daughter - that way I could fix it if it was too big/small before I had added a bunch of other elements.
To start the gathered skirt, I lined up the bottom of the shirt so that the front and back are even (this is important because when you adjusted the neckline it may have moved the front or back up or down, so if you don't align the bottom edges, your new dress will have a funky hemline). I used one of my daughter's dresses to measure for the empire waist. The bodice ended up being about 6" from top to bottom and 10 1/2" across at the base.
Next, to make the gathers for the skirt, sew along the top edge using a straight stitch on the longest setting and sew a scant 1/4" from the top. I sewed along the front, stopped, and then sewed along the back so that I could gather them separately, since I find making the gathers equal out a very difficult step. To gather the fabric, tie the top and bobbin thread together at one end, then at the other end, hold one thread and pull the other until the skirt is 10 1/2" wide (so 21" all the way around). The tips listed above also have a gathering tutorial - check it out here.
Even up the bodice by smoothing it out from the top seams down and trimming straight across (either using another dress/shirt as a guide or trimming about 6" from the top for a 3-4T sized dress). Also, adjust the sleeve opening - I used the black shirt pictured above to mark how wide the shoulders should be, then made a curve down to the base of the bodice so that across the bottom the bodice would be 10 1/2" wide.
It's time to make the sleeves (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this, so I have to substitute pictures from the first attempt!). First, mark the curve of your sleeve opening using the bodice on the original shirt's sleeve - this will determine the width of your sleeve at the top where it joins the bodice (I used permanent marker so it would show up, but a washable pen/sewing pencil would be a safer bet!). Second, mark the width at the sleeve's end.
Of course, this version is short-sleeved, so you don't have to worry about length, but if you do make a long-sleeved version, just use another kid's shirt that has long sleeves to determine the length of your new kid-sized sleeve.
Then, cut in a straight line from the base of the curve to the mark you made at the end of the sleeve, and sew, using the zig-zag stitch, along that line, leaving you with a sleeve-tube that is open on both ends.Pin the top opening of the sleeve and the sleeve opening of the bodice right sides together, matching bottom seams, and sew.
Finally, pin the bodice and skirt right sides together matching the side seams and sew, making sure your gathers stay evenly spaced. Turn it right side out and - Voila - you have a dress!
I felt it needed a little something, and I just happened to have velvet elastic with a ruffled edge, so I added it to the seam between the skirt and bodice. I still used a zig-zag stitch when I sewed it on so that it would still all be stretchy. If you are wondering how I "happened" to have this, you clearly don't understand the depth of my crafting stash - I have everything for most projects, and usually in a couple of different colors (I have black velvet elastic, too!).
This only took me about 45 minutes, which includes several child-care breaks! As a bonus, my daughter thought it was so cute and comfy she wanted to wear it to bed. Sadly, I just had a garage sale, so additional fodder for more versions is in short supply - oh well, I'll be getting my winter clothes out soon, so perhaps I'll try the long-sleeve version again!
My inspiration for this came from this pin & this one - both from the fabulous blog Make It and Love It. For another super quick & easy project, check out this blog: Lookie What I Did!
I linked this to We Did It! at Sew Much Ado and A Pinteresting Link Party at Here's to Handy Andy