Wednesday 8 August 2012

Painted T-shirt Dress Tutorial...

Take a plain white t-shirt, add some fabric painted flowers, attach a skirt with lace and you have a one of a kind, pretty little t-shirt dress that no one else will be wearing.

Our little artist used Mont Marte fabric paint, which comes in convenient little bottles. 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.

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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Set machine stitch slightly longer than normal. My topstitching is 2.8.
  • 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.

Attach lace with two rows of stitching.

Side seams:
  • With right sides facing, sew side seams.
  • Neaten edges.

Attach skirt to t-shirt

Gathering stitches:
  • 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 row of stitching 1/4" from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first 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.
  • Sew a second row of stitching 3/8"- 4/8" from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first side seam.

My first row of stitching is a little too close to the edge of the fabric.

Pin skirt to t-shirt:
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the skirt.
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the t-shirt.
  • With right sides together, pin the skirt to the t-shirt at the side seams, the centre front and the centre back.
Making the gathers:
  • Pull the two bobbin threads and move the fabric towards the centre front.
  • 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.

Hand basting skirt to t-shirt:
  • With needle and thread, sew the skirt to the t-shirt, with long stitches (hand basting stitch).
  • Remove all pins.
Machine stitch skirt to t-shirt:
  • 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.
  • Sew between the two lines of machine basting.
  • Remove both rows of machine basting (bobbin and upper threads) and the hand basting.
  • Neaten the edges by overlocking (serging) or zig zag.  

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.

    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.

    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.

    And here's our finished dress...

    Little artist number two wanted to get in on the act. We've called this one Fireworks

    Here's the artwork on paper that prompted me to ask our first little artist to paint on a t-shirt.

    I asked her to choose the colours and paint me another flower, but this time on a t-shirt. Two flowers and a sun later and I knew this would work well.

    There you have it, how to turn your child's artwork into a little t-shirt dress...

    ... Pam


    1. Aww what a gorgeous and fun project for the littlies! Great tutorial too, Pam!

    2. Cool for kids na. When i saw the first pic of this post in my reader 'Fireworks' was what came to my mind:)

    3. This is such a gorgeous idea and it's turned out beautifully!!

    4. I love childrens art, my grandkids and I love to play and paint and have fun

    5. I love the way you have picked up the colour of the flowers in the chosen fabrics for the skirt! great joint effort!

    6. WOW what a great idea...can't wait to try it out with my Grand daughter

    7. This is so cute Pam! what a great idea for the kids to help with making their own designer clothes!

    8. This is a great project mom can do with kids! Have to try this when my little one is a little older :) The lace details you have added is so pretty!

    9. How wonderful!!! Memories made for sure that day! How proud they will be to wear their very own art too. :)

    10. Oh my gosh, this is a fabulous project! How proud they must be to wear their own creations! We've done tie dye with the kids and they LOVE the shirts "they made" but I never thought to let them loose with a paintbrush and fabric paint! So cute and creative!! xoxo

    11. What a great project to do with little ones. They'll really feel like this is all their own. Love the addition of the lace in the dress. Thanks for sharing at Etcetorize this week!

    12. This is a cute idea! I'm currently working on something similar with a tank top, but I hadn't thought of letting my daughter paint a top for the dress. Today she actually helped me decorate a t-shirt with fabric markers, and now you have me thinking I could turn it into a dress like this one once it's too short for her. Anyway, next week I'll actually post my creation, so I hope you'll check it out.

      Bonny @

    13. G'Day Pam! Many thanks for linking this great post up to my Say G'day Party! I love this idea-you are so creative!

      I just gave this post a +1 on Google and I also shared the details of your link up too. I wish I had something to link up but as I've mentioned before I am not crafty at all!

      Best wishes and happy weekend!
      Natasha in Oz

    14. what a great idea to make kids artwork WEARABLE! This dress turned out great. I'm currently upcycling my twin boys' fall-winter wardrobe. I'd love for you to stop by and see what I'm up to! There is also a flicker group for people to upload their own refashion projects and what inspires them. Hope you can come and maybe share some of your great projects! ~ Suzanne

    15. Great idea Pam. I know my girls would love to try this!

    16. Wow! This is just awesome:) A craft with your kiddos and a new dress which they take pride in that they help make it:)
      Thanks for sharing at Freedom Fridays!

    17. great project and tutorial! thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

    18. One painted shirts has some unique features that you will hardly find in any other t-shirts. It is more fashionable as compare to other designer t-shirts because it contains some of the best painting on them.Tshirt Design

    19. I looked at this w/ my girls. They loved it! I loved the pretty skirt w/ all the lace. Thanks for telling me about it!
      One of my first sewing projects was trying to attach a skirt to a t-shirt. It did not look so cute. :) I'll have to refer to your tutorial next time!

      1. You could go to town with all your fabulous fabric painting ideas, Gina!!!

    20. Wow. this the nice shits for kids and we also provide the best digitizing services for clothes and our digitization is best and very strong so let;s go and check it now.


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