T-shirt Makeovers: Strappy Tubedress

It was a slow afternoon, so I thought I’d pull another shirt out of the stack and play around.



…and after!


I used Wooden Robot’s t-shirt dress as a base, but wandered a bit here and there. (She has a cool site, by the way, which is definitely worth a read.) Pictorial behind the cut.


Prepare your victim.


Cut off its arms at the seam. Don’t mind the screaming, it’ll thank you later for saving it from a lifetime of baggy hideousness.


Split the sleeves open at the underarm seam.


Sew together the two pieces of fabric from the sleeve, right sides in. When you flip it right side out, you’ll end up with a tube top. The already hemmed side is the top. Slip it on (or put it one a dress form, if you have one handy) and note where you want the waistline. Pin or chalk it in for easier skirt attachment. Also, if you need find you need to take it in a bit to fit your chest, do so and re-sew at this time. You want to know how much across that waistline measures soon.


Now for the skirt portion. Fold and iron a horizontal crease to section off the collar from the rest of the fabric. Cut off that section along the crease.


At this point, the tutorial will tell you to cut the skirt in a trapezoidal fashion, making sure that the top of the skirt is the same circumference as the bottom of your chest piece. This is a nice, straightforward way to do it and I highly recommend you try it. I like pleats and gathers, however, so decided to play around with the skirt a little in that regard. With that in mind, my trapezoid was wider than average, almost a rectangle. At any rate, fold and iron a crease along the side of the shirt where you want to cut your side seams. Make it so.


Do a quick fit test and see where your skirt and top are matching up. Pin accordingly. This is a good time to make adjustments to make sure that those circumferences are the same, if you’re going that route.


Here you see the amount of extra circumference I’ve left to make my pin pleats. Using the dress form for reference, I centered and pinned my pleats into position.


Prior to attaching the skirt, make sure that your tube top is the same height all the way across. The 80’s might be back, but asymmetry is only cool when it’s intentional.


Match up the skirt to the top, right sides in, and pin in place. Merge.


The tutorial then mentions something about making straps from the extra fabric, but they’re really only decorative straps. It’s really the stretchy tube top that’s holding this dress up. Straps are pretty, though, so I cut out a couple from the longest pieces of fabric leftover (off of the collar segment) and overlocked the sides. I could’ve probably cut them fatter, turned them inside out and made big spaghetti straps for a sturdier, cleaner look, but was in a hurry at that point 🙂 Mental note for future reference.


Position the straps, pin and sew. End product, woot! Please note that this dress is a tad too big for the dressform, since it was made for me. So the bust looks a bit lower than empire waist on it, but looks perfectly fine on me. Yay boobs. Also a note on the boob topic — the original tutorial suggests doing a decorative little gathering thing in the middle of the tube top, which would probably work pretty well if there was a little extra fabric to work with. This one is just about at the limits of containing my chest as it is, though, so I didn’t want to put any more strain on it or add any decorative seams that might break with a bit of extra stretching.


The backside. I also had to pin it back at the dressform’s waist to simulate the figure-hugging, but otherwise the skirt does hang nicely in about that fashion. I cut a fairly high slit in the back because otherwise that skirt clings in ways that are vaguely scandalous. It stops just at the upper thigh, so I think this is another one of those dresses that will only see an outing at the beach…


  1. This is a super cute idea. Very edgy. I was actually inspired by this to pick up a DIY book on this very subject, “T-Shirt Makeovers.” Have you read it?

    • Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Andi!

      What an absolutely awesome book! It’s definitely on my to-get list, thanks for the tip! I’m more of a drape-it-myself sort of girl when it comes to patternmaking and construction, but I do have a huge pile of t-shirts lying around and have been meaning to do some more mainstream (as opposed to my typical historical costuming bent) stuff. This seems like a great way to jumpstart that little project train 🙂

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