How to Make a Plaid Shirt Into a Dress - Easy DIY Tutorial

by Oaishe
7 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make a plaid shirt into a dress. I’m participating in a challenge with other crafters, in which we each buy a clothing item from the thrift store, and transform it into something new.

I found a red plaid turtleneck t-shirt for $2.50, which inspired me to create a plaid dress with a pleated skirt. Keep reading to find out the step-by-step process I used for this transformation.

Tools and materials:

  • XL (or larger) long-sleeved t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fabric chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Safety pin
  • Sewing machine
This was the long plaid t-shirt before

Cutting off the sleeves of the plaid top

1. Cut off the sleeves

First, I removed both sleeves by cutting them along the seams. 

Cutting off the top of the plaid shirt

2. Mark and cut

Next, I measured from the center of my chest to below my bust, marked a line at that length across the shirt, and cut. I set aside the rest of the shirt to be used later as the skirt piece of my dress.

DIY plaid dress

3. Cut the front bodice

I marked the top edge of the front bodice with a slightly curved line, and cut halfway across the top layer of fabric. 

How to make a dress from a shirt

Then I flipped the cut fabric over, and cut the rest of the way across the shirt, so the shape would be symmetrical. 

Cutting the sleeve seams

Finally, I cut off the sleeve seams on either side. 

Plaid shirt dress DIY

4. Cut the back bodice

I traced the front bodice onto the back section of the shirt. For the top edge, I simply marked the corners and connected them with a straight line, since I didn’t want the back bodice to have a curved edge, like the front. Then I cut out the rectangle. 

Cutting a waistband from the sleeves

5. Cut a waistband

I used one of the sleeves I removed to create the waistband. I folded it in half, and used the bottom edge of the bodice to mark the length of the waistband, and added half an inch on either side for seam allowance.

I made the width about 4 inches wide. I cut out the rectangle and then cut along the fold, to create two equal rectangles. 

Sewing the side seams

6. Sew the side seams

I put the front and back bodices together, right sides facing, and sewed down one side seam. 

Sewing the waistband

Then I put the two waistband pieces together, right sides facing, and sewed down one side, as well. 

Attaching the waistband to the bodice

Then I sewed the waistband to the bodice, making sure the side seams were lined up. 

Sewing a DIY plaid dress

And finally, I sewed down the second side seam. 

Pinning the raw edges ready to hem

7. Hem

I finished the raw edges of the front and back bodice with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. Then, I folded the top edges down by about half an inch, pinned them in place, and sewed them down.  

Pinning the bodice to the skirt

8. Pin the bodice to the skirt

Next, turned the skirt piece inside out, and placed the bodice, facing right side out, inside the skirt. I aligned the bottom edge of the waistband with the top edge of the skirt, and pinned them together at the side seams. 

Creating pleats in the skirt

9. Create pleats and sew

On both the front and back sides of the skirt, I made two 2-inch wide pleats along the top edge, each about 3-4 inches from the side seams of the skirt. I pinned them in place and then sewed the entire waistline seam. 

Making straps for the DIY plaid dress

10. Cut, pin, and sew the straps

For the straps, I used the second sleeve from the original shirt to cut two rectangles, each 4 inches wide, and 14 inches long. I folded them in half lengthwise, right sides facing, and sewed them down along the long edges. 

Attaching the straps to the DIY plaid dress

11. Attach the straps

I turned the straps right side out, pinned them in place along the top edge of the dress, and sewed them down. 

Decorative bow on the front of the dress

12. Make a bow

With the remaining fabric, I decided to make a bow, which I attached with a safety pin because I wanted it to be removable. 

How to make a plaid shirt into a dress

How to make a plaid shirt into a dress

Isn’t this the sweetest dress ever? I’d love to know what you think about this transformation. If you use this tutorial on how to make a plaid shirt into a dress, I would love to see your results.

Suggested materials:
  • XL (or larger) long-sleeved t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fabric chalk
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation