Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to Alter a Pattern to Make a Shirt Dress

I love to sew. I especially love to sew for my little ones. Clothes, toys, quilts, it’s just so fun! It is not always less expensive to sew clothes rather than purchase them…but that’s not why I do it. I do it because the joy to be found in creating is of far more worth than the ease and immediacy of shopping. My collection of vintage patterns (may favorite kind to work with) is growing pleasantly. But I have to admit even with my vintage patterns I do a lot of altering to make things “just so”! I know how I want things to look often and can’t find just the pattern I need. So I combine patterns and adjust patterns and wing it on a grand scale. Don’t be intimidated. It’s really not as hard or crazy as it may sound. Want to try?!?! Here is somewhat complete tutorial of how to alter a little boys dress shirt into a little girls shirt dress.

I started with a super generic little boys shirt pattern that I’ve been holding onto to use for the little man cub in a few years. It’s my little girls size right now. 109_0038 I cut out the interfacing can collar pieces as directed. The front and back shirt pieces I altered right on the fabric. Most often I draft my alterations onto big sheets of paper…but I was feeling impatient and daring…!!! Here’s a step by step!

1. Pin the shirt back pattern piece.


2. Measure from the top of the pattern to the desired length and mark lightly.


3. Using a quilting rule (or ruler!) mark the hem perpendicular to the fold of the fabric.109_0042

4. Mark 1”above the hem at the non folded edge. 109_0043

5. Line the quilters rule up with the pattern at the arm pit. Swing the rule out from that point to create an A-line shape. Trace along the rule to create your new cutting line. 109_0044109_0045109_0046

6. Make a gentle curve from the 1” mark down to the hem…meeting the original hem line approximately halfway. 109_0047

7. Repeat with the front pattern pieces first establishing the center of the garment by lengthening the inside seam straight down. 109_0048109_0051

8. Follow the same A-line angle on the outside edge as used on the back pattern piece. 109_0052

I wanted a few gathers on the top of the sleeve so I altered them a bit also.

9. Fold the sleeve pattern (perfectly!) in half. Pin parallel to the fold. The farther the pattern piece is from the fold the more gathers you will have and the bigger your sleeve will be. I actually went back and brought in my sleeve a bit at the under arm to decrease the width a bit. 109_0053109_0054

Assemble the garment as directed by the pattern. For all intents and purposes what you have made is only a longer and wider hemmed shirt so all directions apply. Almost! Place two buttons then close the placket topstitching on both sides all the way to the hem.

I also wanted a belt with a ruffle accent so cut a length of fabric 4 1/2” wide, sewed it into a tube, turned it right side out and pressed it flat. I cut a 2 1/4” wide strip and made a lovely little ruffle detail to add the bottom of the sash. I attached the sash below the buttons at an empire waist height.

It is darling and is completely adored by the wearer! She loves having one so much like mama’s…and made by mama! I’m sure the second and third attempts will be even smoother and more polished…I’m thinking a a beautiful plaid with long sleeves for fall…or a vintage print for these end of summer days…!

She was quite intent on posing her own pictures…!

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