The free t-shirt dress

So, it’s still the middle of winter here but the days are getting longer and the spring is in sight. With that in mind I am starting to think about a summer wardrobe for my daughter.

My favourite, go-to pattern for a t-shirt is the free Raglan T-Shirt pattern by Duck Butt Designs. You can find her on Facebook and all the info about how to get the pattern is in the pinned post.

It’s a super simple and quick pattern to work up and the only alterations I make are to make the neckline a little bigger by cutting 0.5mm off the top of each pattern piece. 

I fancied making a simple t-shirt dress for The Beast and used the raglan tee as a starting point.

I bought a women’s size 12 vest top from the local Cancer Research shop for £2 and used that as fabric. The wonderful thing about upcycling a ready-made tee is you can use the hems from the original shirt, which saves so much time.

I used a seam ripper to (very carefully) remove the pocket. 

Then I took my back pattern piece and placed it in the centre of the tee. I wanted to add about 10cm length to the bottom of the tee to make it dress length. 

Take a ruler (I use a quilting rule) and give yourself a nice angle for an a-line dress, coming out from the underarm.

Cut out the rest of this side (don’t cut down the centre line). Flip it and repeat for the other side.

Then take the front tee piece, fold it, and the front tee pattern piece and cut off the extra for the front neckline.

Cut some arm pieces. I used a co-ordinating red and white stripe from my stash. You could either use some jersey fabric you already have or make use of another charity shop buy. I cut a 3/4 length for the spring/summer.

Now you need to put your tee together. I used an overlocker but you can also make this with a stretch/ballpoint needle and a zig zag stitch on a normal sewing machine. You won’t need to finish your seams if you are sewing with a jersey. Right sides together, sew the arms to the front pattern piece.

Repeat for the back. You should end up with this.

Hem your sleeves. I did a faux blind-hem stitch. Fold wrong sides together, then back on itself, right sides together. Sew along the edge. Unfold and you have a lovely hemmed sleeve.

Then, right sides together, sew in one line from the sleeve hem down to the bottom hem. Along the line where I have placed my clips, here. 

 Repeat for the other side, then turn it through. 

Now you just need to make the neckband. Take your tee and, without stretching it, measure the length of the neck opening. 

Mine measured 7 inches. Double it to get the full neck measurement (front and back). 14. Times by 80% = 11.2. Add one inch for seam allowance and you get 12.2 inches. Cut a neckband measuring 12.2 inches along the stretch, opposite to the grainline (being honest, I didn’t do this here, I cut along the grainline. The fabric was super stretchy in all directions and I liked the stripes going the other way), and 1.5 inches in width.

Sew it together, right sides together along the short side to get a circle. Mark it into quarters with clips. Mark the neckline into quarters using clips also, marking centre front and back and the centre of each side (remember this won’t be the middle of the arms because the front neckline is longer). Sew on the neckband. 

I sewed the pocket back on. Top stitched the arms and the neckline in a red and blue twin needle line.


Me: “I finished your dress, Pickle. Do you like it? It’s got stars on it!”

Beast: “Um…No. Can I have a banana?”

Enjoy. You can make something fabulous, but there’s no guarantee it will be appreciated!
You can find me:

Instagram : @theslippychickencompany


Unisex Children’s Clothes. Comfortable, Practical, Colourful and Cool. Clothes to inspire adventure. It’s what we do.

I also teach sewing at Crafty Baba in Ipswich, Suffolk. A great haberdashery that sells everything and teaches everything else.


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