Vintage May: The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Jess from Craftiness Is Not Optional and Kristin from Skirt as Top have been hosting a series called Vintage May on their blogs. They have an impressive line up of bloggers with amazing projects/tutorials! Today I get to join in and share a dress I made and I also made sure to get pics of the process so you can make one too. See others projects here on Jess’s blog and here on Kristin’s.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

I was inspired by vintage patterns from the 60’s like this. I decided I wanted to do a dress with a drop waist skirt and a collar. Of course, I also wanted to do this as easy as possible. That’s when the idea of making it from a t-shirt popped in my head. The t-shirt dress has been done a million times, but I’m putting a vintage spin on it today.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

To create this look, I added a circle skirt to the bottom and used felt for the collar. I know some of you must be thinking “felt? But how does it wash?” Well, I washed mine in cold water on a normal cycle and it was fine. I did let it air dry though. The dryer might cause it to pill. And yes, I used the cheap acrylic felt you buy in sheets from the craft stores.

Here are the materials you will need:
-T-shirt
-Fabric
-Felt
-Ribbon

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Start by cutting the end of the t-shirt off. Make sure it’s on the longer side to achieve the drop waist look. I used a dress that my daughter had to determine the length I wanted it. You could also have them try it on and see where you would like it to fall too. Then measure how wide the bottom of the shirt is.

Use that measurement to determine the size of fabric needed for the circle skirt. I’m going to use pics/instructions from a previous tutorial I did. No need to do it again ;)

Figure out how much fabric you need.
First you need to determine the radius for the bottom. The equation used is:

r = circumference / (2 x pi)

2 x pi is about 6.28. The circumference is the measurement of the bottom of the shirt. Just measure it laying flat and multiply it be 2. The shirt was 11.5″ laying flat, so times 2 and minus 1 it’s 23″. Plug it in:

r = 23 / 6.28

r = about 3.7 (I rounded up)

Now take the radius and add how long you want the bottom skirt to be (remember to add extra for the seam allowance you want to use. I added 2 inches. An inch for the top and one for the bottom). I wanted hers to be 10.5″ long (including seam allowance), so plug it in:
(r + length)
3.7″ +10.5″ =14.2″

Multiply that by 2.
14.2″ x 2= 28.4″

So, I will need 1 square pieces of fabric that is 28.4″ x 28.4″.

Ruffle Pants Style #2 Tutorial

Take your square piece of fabric and fold it in half.

Ruffle Pants Style #2 Tutorial

Then fold it in half the other way. This will create two sides that are fabric folds and two sides will be the fabric edges.

Ruffle Pants Style #2 Tutorial

Now take a ruler and some chalk. From the very corner of the two folded sides, measure out the radius + length measurement to get the length you will cut in the picture above. Make quite a few marks all around the fabric to create a 1/4 circle. Cut it out.

Ruffle Pants Style #2 Tutorial

Now to cut the middle circle. Use your ruler again and measure out the radius length from the corner of the folded edges. Make a few marks around and connect, then cut out.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Your piece will now look like this.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Now that it is cut out, pin the waist of the skirt piece to the bottom of the t-shirt with right sides facing. Sew together and finish the seams with a v-stitch or serger.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Hem the bottom how you like. I ended up serging the edge then turning it under 1/4″, ironed it in place, then sewed. You could turn it under a little and iron then turn it under one more time so no raw edge is showing, but this might drive some of you crazy. It can be done, but it can be difficult. Another option is to sew on bias tape around the bottom.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Now you need to create a template for the collar. Take the dress and fold it in half with the front of the dress facing up. Tuck the back of the neckline in the shirt. Place the neckline on a piece of paper and trace around the neck, top of shoulder, and down the middle some.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

It will look like this.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Then you can draw the shape of the collar you want on the front part. Next, fold the dress in half the other way (so the back is facing up). Match up the shoulder and neckline with the part you just drew. Trace around neck and down the middle a little ways.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Draw your own look for the rest of the collar the way you want it. Cut it out.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Position template on neckline to see if it will work. It might take some tweaking. Don’t worry about it being all the way over in the back because we will be making it shorter there anyways. The front is really the most important area.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Cut out two pieces of from the pattern piece. Then trim the edge that will be in the back some. Since the shirt is stretchy, we don’t want to sew it all the way around or else the dress might not go over the wearer’s head.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

I also sewed around the edges of the felt to help it hold it’s shape.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial
The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Now pin the collar in place. See the extra space in the back left for stretching?

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Next, decide on what kind of ribbon you want. I originally wanted a thinner ribbon, but I wanted to use something from my stash instead of buying more. So I found this wide blue ribbon to use. I cut it shorter and heat sealed the ends to prevent fraying (meaning I ran the ribbon edge over a candle flame).

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

I knotted this and then sewed it in place, but you could also do a bow like some of the patterns used.

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

Then to complete the look you can add some mary janes and knee high socks (these were both purchased at Target). If you make one, please share. You can leave a link to your creation here or email me. Don’t forget to see all the other great projects going on for Vintage May. Thank you to Jess and Kristin for letting me be a part of it.

-Jess

The Mod T-shirt Dress Tutorial

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Comments

  1. says

    Ok I am a beginner sewer. I pretty sure I have the right measurements to sew the circle skirt on the t-shirt but I don’t know what a V stitch is and I don’t have a serger could I use the zig zag stitch instead? How did you finish the bottom hem of your daughter’s dress? I am trying to make Halloween dresses using Halloween t-shirts and Halloween fabric for my daughter.

    • says

      V stitch is just another way I say zig zag stitch :) lol So yes, do that. On the bottom, I serged the edge and then turned it under a little and sewed in place. You could do a zig zag stitch around edge and then turn under or you could turn it under twice. Just don’t turn it under too much or it will be harder to sew. I have finished circle skirts using all of those ways, so I know it can be done :)

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