Dress to Shirt Refashion // Tutorial

In general, I tend to be very intentional about the clothing I purchase.  For one, I hate clutter and don’t want to add anything to my house that will just take up space.  However, as intentional as I try to be, there are still times that I purchase something that just ends up not fitting quite right, it’s too short, too tight, or I decide the color looks weird on me.  This dress was one of those times.  I ran into Target to grab diapers and got sidetracked-as one does.  OR, as I do in Target!  There was a great sale on these dresses and since I had tried on a dress in this style, I knew I liked it and thought it would be the perfect dress to throw on and wear comfortably for summer.  So, like any smart person, I grabbed it, brought it home, tore the tags off of it and washed it so it would be ready to wear.  You know, before I tried it on again to be sure it would work for me.  (I would blame mommy brain, but my baby is two)

A week or so later, when I tried the dress on to style it for my sister’s rehearsal dinner, I realized that it was just way too short for me to wear comfortably.  I was really disappointed, but I loved the style of it and immediately starting thinking about how I could make it work for my wardrobe so that it wouldn’t be a wasted purchase.  Since it’s a shift dress, turning it into a shirt was the obvious choice.  This is truly one of the easiest, quickest refashions EVER.  And now I have another shirt that I love to wear!

Listen-before you even jump into this project, just know that this really is one of the easiest, quickest ways to upcycle or refashion a shift dress.  From start to finish, this took me approximately 15 minutes.  You can absolutely do this, too!


  1. Put the dress on and mark on the side where you want the shirt hem to be.
  2. Add the width of the hem you want to where you marked the side of your dress.
  3. Use this mark to create a measurement from where the side seam and sleeve seam meet.  Use this measurement to measure the second side of your dress.  If your dress has a straight hem, you can also measure up from the bottom of the dress to mark your cut line. 
  4. This next step is totally optional. I prefer my shirts to have a slight scoop or curve on the back, so I folded the back of the dress in half and marked a curve cut that was 1.5 inches longer than the straight cut on the front of the shirt.  If you prefer your shirts to have a straight seam on front and back, just use the measurement from the front of the shirt to mark a line on the back, as well. 
  5. Use pinking shears to cut the dress where you’ve marked your hem or sew a quick zigzag seam on the very edge of your cut before you hem it.  This serves to keep your cut edge from fraying after it’s been washed.
  6. Measure and pin your hem. 
  7. The fun part!  Stitch your seam.  You can do a double seam or just one, whatever you prefer or think will look best on your garment. 
  8. PRESS your seam! 
  9. Put on your new shirt that you just saved from the donation or garbage pile, feel very virtuous, and admire yourself in all your refashioned finery!

Now it’s your turn!  Please tell about an impulse buy or garment you own that just doesn’t work for you that you would love to refashion.  We love to hear from you!

Mindy Meyer