Crafty Book Review: Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses

Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses (5 of 6)The garment sizing for Sew Pretty: T-Shirt Dresses runs from 2-8, although the maximum size is still plenty long enough on my almost-nine-year-old. However, since the dresses rely on tutorials, not patterns, adjusting the sizing beyond the guidelines shouldn’t be too hard. My version of Cool Water is a 7/8, built onto a small Hanes tank top that I pulled from my kiddo’s closet.

The bodice features an applique cut from a different T-shirt, satin stitched in place.
The bodice features an applique cut from a different T-shirt, satin stitched in place.

Since most of the tutorials call for trimming the shirt at the bottom, these are good projects for re-using a stained or torn T-shirt. Cool water calls for re-using the trimmed bottom of the shirt as a ruffled embellishment on the shirt front, but I used the graphic from a different T-shirt, cut from that shirt and satin stitched to this shirt as an applique, instead. Freezer paper stenciling also makes for an excellent embellishment for altered shirts, as does fabric paint in squeeze bottles, which I also used on the shirt.

LOTS of ruffles!
LOTS of ruffles!

Before the ruffled skirt is stitched to the shirt, all the ruffles are sewn to an underskirt; this is a great use for your ugliest piece of stash fabric, since this underskirt isn’t visible on the finished dress. I was happy to use an ugly, faded purple cotton of unknown provenance as my underskirt. The five ruffled layers can also be pieced from smaller pieces of fabric to use up even more stash. For my ruffles, I used three different novelty prints that my kiddo loves, alternated with two boring black-and-white polka dot layers, all from stash. I was hard-pressed to convince the kid that we didn’t need FIVE novelty prints, but the plainer print does exert a force of calm over the entire outfit.

My kiddo LOVES her new rock star dress. Skirts are generally easy for a kid to love–they’re roomy and airy, and if they’re not bulky and get in your way, then you hardly notice them. Dress bodices, however, are often a huge pain for a kid, with scratchy seams and fiddly fastenings. These T-shirt dresses sidestep both those issues, however. T-shirts are nothing if not comfortable, and if you’re wearing a dress that starts as as stretchy top, then you certainly don’t need a zipper!

My younger daughter is super jealous of her older sister’s new outfit, and has picked out several other tutorials from the book that I am apparently supposed to try out next. This may well be the Summer of the T-shirt Dress.

For more projects from the book, giveaways, and reviews, check out the rest of the Sew Pretty: T-Shirt Dresses blog tour:

May 5

May 6

May 7

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of Sew Pretty: T-Shirt Dresses for free, because I can’t review a craft book unless I’ve had a chance to try the projects out and see if I can mess them up or not.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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  1. I love it! She looks so rock and roll! I like the idea of using an ugly fabric for an underskirt, I have some ugly fabrics I would love to use up.

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