Roses and Ruffles- The T-shirt to Toddler Dress Tutorial

I decided to do another variation of the toddler t-shirt dress and also do an official how to make a toddler dress out of a t-shirt tutorial. There are many of these out there, but I wanted one to go with this. I was also asked on how to make the ruffles for the purple dress I did, so I have that included as well. And, I also did a quick how to on how to make these little hair bows with the leftovers. Have fun :)

What you need:
-T-shirt (mine came from the Dollar Store)


-Sewing machine, pins, all that stuff to sew it together
-Child’s dress

Ring Around the Rosies Toddler Dress:
1. Lay out your t-shirt and fold it in half so that the front is facing you.


Lay the dress on it, also folded in half to find where you need to cut. If the dress is tight on child, try and allow a little extra room in the cut for a seam allowance. I try to make as little as possible for myself to do, so I always have the bottom of the dress on the bottom of the shirt. I didn’t cut mine exactly this dress shape, but used it to find the basic shape I needed. Also, since my girl is tall enough now, I was able to line up the neck with it too, leaving the front already done for this one.

2. Cut out dress pieces.


3. Place the two pieces right sides together and pin in place.


4. Sew down the sides, making sure not to stitch where the arm holes are. You can finish them up if you would like to give it extra hold (I use a v-stitch and sew the inside edges together).

5. Sew the top of the shoulders together and finish seams. Turn right side out.


6. Optional: If you are blessed and have a serger, you can serge the edges. If you don’t, you can use a v-stitch to finish the edges (if you have enough, fold the edges under a bit while sewing it. It looks smoother). Or, just leave them raw.

7. Cut the two sleeves off the part of the shirt that is left.


Cut in a little bit at the bottom of one sleeve and begin cutting the edges.


Continue in a circular motion all around the arm sleeve, as long as you can. I keep the width of the strips pretty thin, but you can do larger if you like.

The little piece on top is what I had left over.

8. Cut the two now long pieces in half. Three of the pieces will be used to make the roses. The other will be used to make the hair bows.


9. Start with the rose in the middle. Make a circle from the end part and pin in place.


Continue winding the piece in circles around until you reach the end.


Tuck the end underneath. Pin.


Beginning at the bottom, sew with a smaller stitch setting (the length on mine was 3.0). Make sure to backstitch a bit before and after sewing. Sew in circles around until you come to the middle. Backstitch when finished.


10. Do the same with the other two, placing them on opposite sides of the middle one.

Stitching from the back

Hair bows:
Take the long piece of leftover and cut in half.
Hairbows 1
Cut two small pieces from the other leftovers as well. You will need it to tie with. Wrap one of the halves around your hand.
Hairbows 2 Hairbows 3
Tie it in the middle with the small piece you cut.
Hairbows 4
Cut the loops on each end open and trim/pull the pieces until you achieve desired look. Sew them onto a hair clip.

Hairbows 5

Make the dress the same way as in parts 1-6. I used a different dress to cut out the shape for this one. It was shorter and the neck was more of a scoop. Cut the long strips to ruffle from the sleeves, or any other way from the leftovers after cutting the shirt out. You want to cut five pieces. The middle will be the longest, the two beside it will be the same length (but shorter than the middle), and the last two on the outside will be even shorter.

Ruffle 1

There is no definite width or length. Just do it to your liking. Baste down the middle of each strip.

Ruffle 4
Ruffle 3
*If the fabric doesn’t feed through well at the beginning, help it along by pulling the tail.*

This means, no backstitching at all. Leave a long tail at the beginning and the end. Make sure the stitch is set to a large width (I put mine at the highest, which is 5).

Ruffle 2

To create the ruffle, pull the bottom thread (this is the thread that came from the bobbin).

Ruffle 5
Ruffle 6
Ruffle 7

To help me out, I tie a knot at one end, and do the pulling from the other. It helps keep the ruffle in place for me. Then, pin the middle one on the shirt. Make sure it is directly in the middle of the shirt. Sew it on. Then, add on the two that go beside that, ending with the smallest ones beside those. I sewed them close together (I had to lift up the side of the one already sewn on so I wouldn’t catch it in the stitch).

Preparing for pictures
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  1. Stacy says

    Those flowers on the t-shirt dress are adorable! Have you ever used them in a clothing/sewing project for women? They look like they’d be cute on a blouse or a t-shirt for an adult.

  2. says

    I saw your purple shirt the other day! It was such a great idea that I made a dress for my 3 year old from a shirt that we tie dyed last week. I even added some ruffled sleeves. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. says

    New to your blog. I made a yellow shirt similar to your purple dress. I love the way it looks very Crewcuts. I think I may attempt to make the rosettes on another one. I’ll share my outcome when my model comes back in town. She’s with her cousins.

  4. Michelle says

    Jessica, I have been following your blog for the last month. I really enjoy seeing the things you make for your daughter. It gives me ideas for my 22 month old. I love that you share step by step how you do things. You would make a great teacher.

  5. says

    Thank you for the tutorial. You do some incredible stuff. I love the roses on this sweet little dress. Now I need to go look for an old t-shirt to cut up. :)

  6. says

    WOW – that’s all I can say lol I’m so impressed! :) You’re awesome – you make it look so easy! Your lil gal looks super cute!

  7. says

    I just found your blog today, and decided to try and make this little dress for my 2-yr-old. It turned out so cute–thanks so much for the awesome tutorials!

  8. says

    Thank you for posting this tute. I had this idea a few years ago but didn’t know where to start, you gave me the info :)

    I used an old shirt of mine and 2 tanks and made nightgowns for my 5 yr old. My sewing isn’t the greatest so I left out the roses and ruffles but I love the roses!

    I’ve got a few more shirts and she needs more nightgowns! lol

    Love the pic of your dd with the purple dress, she has such a beautiful look on her face

  9. Anonymous says

    Love the coral roses! Made a deep purple dress from your tute tonight, love the results, so cute. Had trouble with the roses, but for my first tee recon, not bad. Thanks for the great tutorials!!!

  10. says

    You are really a genius!!!! Never would have thought such a plain t-shirt could be turned into angel outfit!!!! It really sparked the crafty side of me to do something!!!

  11. Anonymous says

    Darling, I am a great grandmother who has done lots of sewing, but your idea takes the “cake”! Thanks for sharing. “Twinkle”

  12. says

    Great post! Who ever needs to buy new clothes again with the amazing amounts of jersey and other fabrics you can upcycle from thrift stores. I love those ruffles down the front of the purple dress!

  13. says

    LOVE it! So cute. A great tutorial! made one for my 2 year old this morning with the ruffles and, thanks to your fantastic instructions, it only took me half an hour! Thanks again!!

  14. Aunt Becky says

    I love the dresses! Just have one question. If you leave the t-shirt hem as the hem for the dress, doesn’t it hang long on the sides? Your original dress, used as a pattern, has a rounded bottom edge .

  15. says

    “Just have one question. If you leave the t-shirt hem as the hem for the dress, doesn’t it hang long on the sides? Your original dress, used as a pattern, has a rounded bottom edge .”

    It actually came out fine with out hanging long on the sides. The dress was rounded like that because it was a baby doll style. A regular cut dress would have just gone straight down. The dress for the “pattern” was gathered and it looked like that when laid out.

  16. says

    Thanks for this tutorial! I took a Joe Boxer night top of mine and converted it into a dress by turning it around backwards (buttons now down the back) and putting a ruffled necklace on the front. It’s so much fun to reuse and convert clothes and give them new life!

  17. says

    I loved the roses made from the extra material so much i was trying to incorporate it into one of my many projects I was working on…so i added one to a neck pillow I made for my daughter. It is the most fashionable neck pillow i have ever seen! Thanks so much for the tutorial! Love all your creative ideas!

  18. says

    Thanks for the great ideas. I made another style tee shirt dress today, using a toddler tee shirt, cut off to waist length, and then attached a bright, coordinating fabric. I used your ruffle idea to put trim around the bottom of the skirt. It is beautiful!

  19. says

    “How do you make the ruffles so the stitches don’t pull during wear? I ended up using elastic thread but I think I might have done something wrong :)”

    All I did was baste down the middle with a large straight stitch, gathered it, then sewed it on with a large straight stitch (mine goes up to length 5, but I think I used 4). Since it is just a small part of the dress, it didn’t really effect the stretch of it. If you are worried about that, you could do a small zigzag stitch down the middle when sewing it on. That helps it keep the stretch more.

  20. Anonymous says

    Very cute. I tried making one today but mine just looks like I cut the arms off a tshirt, doesn’t look much like anything haha. I’ll try another one later, maybe it was the cut of the tshirt I used

    • says

      Thank you :) Good for you for trying it though! That is the best way to learn. I remember trying to make these more like a tank top look at the top if that helps any. And, if you have a hard time free styling it, you can always grab a pattern and use it to help.

  21. says

    Hi Jessica! Thank you for sharing this very detailed tutorial! I’m so excited to get to try it for my 4 great-nieces! Your little girl is so adorable! Blessings from Bama!


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