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Button Down Dress

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I love turning old clothing into new clothing and one of my all-time favorites is turing an old adult button-down shirt into an a-line sundress for a preschool-sized person. It takes less than an hour from start to finish and…just cute galore.

All you need is a button down shirt (the larger the size the more you have to work with) and about a yard of single fold bias tape. We used one of Papa-Bug’s old shirts that didn’t make the cut in a recent purging of the closet.

You also will need a dress to use as a size guideline. An a-line dress will work the best, but as long as you can get a general idea of width and length, any dress will work.

Iron and lay the shirt out flat. Place the dress on top, everything face up. Cut around one half of the dress – just the armhole, side and back.

Take the pattern dress away and carefully fold the shirt in half. Use the cut half as your pattern on the other side to keep your sides as symetrical as poissible. Cut around the second armhole and side and across the bottom.

Using scraps from the sides or sleeves of the shirt, cut two strips approximately 3″ wide and 15″ long. That’s all the cutting…and the trickiest part of this dress. You’re halfway done.

Fold and sew the two strips in half, clip the corners, turn, and press. These are going to be the back ties at the waist.

If your dress model is available, pop the cut dress on them to mark placement for the ties.

If your model isn’t around, the ties will get pinned on between 2″-4″ below the armhole. Use your eyes and guage it. This might be another good time to look at your guidline dress and think about where the child’s waist will be. Pin the ties to each side

Sew down the side seams, matching front to back. I always start at the armhole and go down. It’s far easier to adjust a hem that is a little off than it is to adjust an armhole that has gone funky.

It’s almost done. All you have to do is a hem and bias tape around the armholes. I had planned on using the green bias tape in the first picture, but it came up a little short. So I used a different piece I had. It was a little wide and I trimmed it down after sewing it to the armholes…

…but before I pinned the finished edge in place.

If you aren’t familiar with setting bias tape as an armhole, there is a good video you can watch here. Once you’ve got the armholes faced, you are almost done.

I didn’t get a picture of the last step because Sister-Bug was SOOOO excited for her new dress that I just pressed a half inch hem and called it good. And I am sure that you can figure out how to hem this dress. Just make sure that your front hems at the button placket match.

That’s it. One seriously cute sundress, up-cycled, and super hip.


Side note: Making these out of oxford style button downs means your kiddo can wear it with a tie. And it’s a nice “boy-ly” dress for a little boy who likes the comfort of dresses but maybe isn’t too into the frills of lots of sundresses. And no one can say it isn’t boy’s clothes…since you made it out of Dad’s old shirt…

















One response »

  1. What a great idea! I am gonna have to tr this with my Granddaughter. Thanks Taylor!


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