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Painted Tee Shirt Dress

By: Pam from Threading My Way

Get your little girl in on the fun of creating this Painted Tee Shirt Dress.  Not only is this dress easy and fun to make, but little girls will love putting their own "touch" on their new dress!

tee shirt dress


  • Plain white t-shirt
  • Paint (in various colors)
  • Fabric
  • Lace
  • Sewing machine and supplies



  1. Before painting begins, put a sheet of cardboard inside the t-shirt to prevent paint from seeping through to the back of the t-shirt. Once the masterpiece is finished, allow to dry, then set as per manufacturer's directions. Basically, remove cardboard, cover with an old cloth and iron.

    tee shirt dress

    tee shirt dress
  1. Decide how long you want the t-shirt to be: below the waist, on the waist or above the waist. Measure from the bottom hem, to keep the curve of the hem and cut the t-shirt.  Measure from shoulder to calf.  Take away the length of the cut t-shirt.  This will be the finished length of the skirt.

    tee shirt dress
  2. Decide how many strips of fabric you want and how wide you want each to be.  Add two seam allowances of 3/8" for each strip, except the bottom strip.  Add a 2" hem allowance for the bottom strip.  Your fabric should add up to the finished length, plus seam and hem allowances.  The width of your skirt is one and a half times the width of the t-shirt.

    tee shirt dress
  3. With right sides facing, join the long sides of the top two strips of fabric, using 3/8" seam.  Neaten edges with an overlocker (serger) or zig zag.  Repeat for all strips of fabric.  Press all seams towards the top of the skirt.

    tee shirt dress
  4. Set machine stitch slightly longer than normal. My topstitching is 2.8.
  5. On the right side of the skirt, sew a row of stitching about 1/8" from the seam. This will hold the seam in place and gives a nice finish.

    tee shirt dress
  6. Attach lace with two rows of stitching.  With right sides facing, sew side seams.  Neaten edges. 

    tee shirt dress
  7. Set your machine to the longest straight stitch (machine basting stitch)  Do NOT backstitch. Leave the threads hanging.  Sew a row of stitching 1/4" from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam.  Sew a second row of stitching 3/8"- 4/8" from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam.

    tee shirt dress
  8. Mark the centre front and centre back of the skirt.
  9. With right sides together, pin the skirt to the t-shirt at the side seams, the centre front and the centre back.
  10. Pull the two bobbin threads and move the fabric towards the centre front.
  11. Pull until the fabric is the same length as the t-shirt.  Knot the basting threads.  Even out the gathers and pin.  Repeat three times pulling the threads from each side seam to the centre.

    tee shirt dress
  12. If sewing by hand:  With needle and thread, sew the skirt to the t-shirt, with long stitches (hand basting stitch).  Remove all pins.
  13. If sewing by machine:  Set machine to a very narrow zig zag stitch, so it is almost a straight stitch. I made the length 2.8 and the width .4. This just gives it a little stretch. Or you could use an overlocker if you have one.
  14. Sew between the two lines of machine basting.
  15. Remove both rows of machine basting (bobbin and upper threads) and the hand basting.  Neaten the edges by overlocking (serging) or zig zag.

    tee shirt dress
  16. Sewing two lines of machine basting, makes it less likely for the thread to break as you pull the gathers and it also makes it easy to sew over the gathers so they remain neat.
  17. Hem the bottom edge of the dress.  Turn under 1/2" and either press or stitch.  Turn under 1.5" and hand stitch or machine stitch.

    tee shirt dress
  1. These were the hem allowances that suited me. Vary the measurements to achieve the length you want. You could easily turn 1/4", then 1/2" and machine sew.
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