Tuesday 29 March 2016

Maxi Rainbow T-shirt Dress

There's just something about rainbow dresses that little girls love. Make it a maxi and there's even more appeal. I recently made a maxi rainbow t-shirt dress for Little Miss.

Screen print a t-shirt and make it into a maxi, rainbow t-shirt dress ~ Threading My Way

This was a super easy sew, unlike Little Miss' first rainbow dress. but as you can see, it's not just the rainbow fabric that makes this dress. Little Miss, with a little help from my daughter, screen printed the flower design onto two t-shirts.

First up, Little Miss drew the flower face picture onto paper. My daughter then made this into a stencil. The two of them added several paint colours to the screen and transferred the picture to the t-shirts.

Two years ago, my daughter and I attended a silk screen printing workshop with Saffron Craig. We both had a fabulous day, but I've done nothing with the skills learnt on that day. My daughter, on the other hand, has run with it. and regularly makes screen printed appliqu├ęs for baby singlets.

Little Mister also got into the act by screen printing a car.

The placement of the flower meant that the skirt had to be joined to the t-shirt at waist level. Normally, I would cut the t-shirt off just a few inches below the underarm, when making a t-shirt dress.

Maxi Rainbow T-shirt Dress ~ Threading My Way

To determine the length of the skirt... 
  • Put the cut t-shirt on.
  • Measure from the bottom of the t-shirt to the ankle. For younger children you may want to make the length shorter. The longer it is, the more likely they are to trip. 
  • Add an allowance for the hem. 

I deliberately made Little Miss' dress a little too long, as the t-shirt is a size too large. By the time the t-shirt is a good fit, the hem will be a little higher. Little Miss likes the length just as it is now.

For a t-shirt dress that falls at, or just below the knees, I usually cut a rectangle of fabric roughly double the width of the t-shirt. For a maxi dress, this would make the dress too narrow at the bottom. Keeping a rectangle shape and adding more width, I thought would add too much weight and cause the t-shirt to stretch. 

So I cut the skirt fabric at an angle, narrower at the top and wider at the hem. Determining the angle took a bit of working out, but I think I nailed it. The most important thing is to make sure the bottom is wide enough to allow your child to easily take large strides.

I ended up making the width at the top of the skirt a little under double the width of the t-shirt, and at the hemline, a little over 2½ times the width of the t-shirt.

To avoid a wavy effect where the skirt joins the t-shirt, it is important not to stretch the t-shirt while sewing. As this t-shirt is slimline, I was concerned that the skirt wouldn't fit over the head. And so I ever so slightly stretched the t-shirt, hence the wavy effect you can see.

In retrospect, I could have just used a wider zig zag stitch. to allow more stretch, as Little Miss has no difficulty putting the dress on.

Little Miss had fun with the photo shoot. It was her idea to wear the rainbow bangles and to add the rainbow coloured umbrella. Thanks to my daughter, Little Ladybird, for taking the awesome photos.

Three and a half years ago I made Little Miss her first t-shirt dress. She also painted the art work on that t-shirt, too. She's only just outgrown that dress and it's been worn a LOT, which of course pleases me no end. Being a maxi dress, this one won't be worn as much - they're just not practical or comfortable for running, climbing or active pursuits.

If you would like to make a t-shirt dress, the following tutorials may help...

So, what's to become of the second screen printed t-shirt? It was made with the intention of donating to Dress A Girl Around the World, and it will be, when I get around to sewing it.

The rainbow maxi t-shirt dress will be added to the 550+ dresses in the Dresses for Girls link party, here at Threading My Way.

... Pam


  1. Methinks Little Miss is pleased with her dress - she needs a May pole to dance around :) We need to see Little Mister in his car project too :D

  2. Wow! This is so pretty! I use to attach skirts to appliqued t-shirts when my girls were younger. Oh how I miss doing that. It was so much fun to coordinate the top with the skirt. I would love to take a class on screen printing. There isn't enough time in the day to do all the crafts we'd like to do, is there?! LOL

  3. That is extremely cute, Pam! Love the unique touches (actually, I really love the car!) that make this a one-of-a-kind, multi-generational project. Seeing this makes me wonder if we ever really outgrow our love of rainbows? While I can't see myself wearing a rainbow dress like this one, I am still drawn to that ROYGBIV combo whenever I see it.

    Very stylish of your Little Miss to add the coordinating accessories, too - they make the shoot!

  4. Very cute! I like the rainbow fabric and I love that she got to help with the screen printing! It is such a great idea for all of you to work together like this!
    My daughters wear their maxi skirts a lot, but they are knit and a little more comfortable.

  5. Great collaboration from everyone to make this pretty dress! The smiling flower is so cute, and the rainbow fabric is just so perfect! I know my little girl would love a rainbow dress too, but I realized why I have been putting that project aside for along time...I have not seen a beautiful rainbow fabric like this one! That makes it much simpler than using several different colors of fabrics!

  6. Congratulations! This post is going to be featured over at Diana Rambles tomorrow and has been pinned in the Featured at Diana Rambles board at Pinterest and Tweeted. Please grab a featured button off my button page or via the post guidelines graphic. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!

  7. Love this dress - and I have a little one who'd love it too! That fabric is gorgeous, and what a great touch to screen print the flower.


Thanks for stopping by! I love reading your comments and try to reply to all of them via email. If you don't receive an email reply from me, check back here.