Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upcycled Fancy Little Girl's Dress Tutorial

 photo IMG_1776_zps0b29e3ea.jpgMy little daughter, Anneliese, 2 3/4 years old, is such a girly girl, is in love with pretty things and princesses, and has very specific tastes in clothing and what she'll agree to wear. She absolutely adores "princess dresses" and wears them as often as she could.

When I was in the US last January, I brought her back a barbie doll with a "princess dress" with a matching dress for Anneliese and she is obsessed with that dress- while she routinely changes her clothes 5-10 times a day, that dress usually is worn at least for one or two of those changes (if she can find it. I've been known to hide it, deep under dirty laundry, if it needs cleaning, because if it's at the top of the laundry basket, she'll just take it out), but I would like her to wear a "princess dress" that is more obviously her size, style, and provides a little more coverage than the skimpy dress she has.

When I found a bag of clothing near the dumpster the other day, I brought it in, since some of the clothes were great for me as is, and other clothes would be great for upcycling.

This one adult shirt looked like it would be great repurposed into a fancy little dress for Anneliese.

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I asked Anneliese if she wanted to wear that "pretty dress", and she was so excited- "my princess dress!" she exclaimed, but saw how big it was, and agreed to cooperate with me to help make it smaller so it would fit her.
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Please excused the colored face...
It was her play makeup...
Fortunately I have a sewing machine that I got as a gift; though I rarely take it out, using it made this job so fast. Rose was being cranky today, so I ended up doing much of what I did with her either on my lap or in a baby carrier on my back, and even so, I finished this project in less than half an hour. By hand can certainly be done as well, it would just take longer to complete.

What I did first was cut off where the straps connected to the body of the shirt, on both the front and the back. So I had a tube and two straps.

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I then folded over and pinned the hems so the top of the body of the dress would be straight (ish... anyhow).

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Once pinned, I just sewed it down with my sewing machine.

I then put the strapless "dress" on Anneliese and measured how much narrower I'd have to make the body to fit her, by taking it in, in the back, then turned it inside out and pinned down in a straight (ish) line on the ruffled part.

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I also folded down the top of the back of the dress and hemmed it at this point since I forgot to do it earlier, but I suggest just doing it at the beginning when you do the front.

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Then I just sewed down in a straight line on the ruffled part. For the bottom of the dress, I again sewed it in a straight line, but going outward, because I didn't want the dress to be straight- I wanted it to be flairy and able to twirl. You know, princessy type things.

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After I took out the pins, I turned the dress right side out and put the dress on Anneliese. I measured where the straps should be and pinned them in place, front and back. Then I sewed the straps in place, then tried the "finished" dress on Anneliese.
Since it all looked great, fit as it should, I then finished it off.

I added a second row of stitching next to all the stitching I'd done so far, to strengthen it.

And I cut off the excess material, also from where I made the dress smaller in the back, and also the extra length from the straps.
And... we're good to go!

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She loves it!

I'm thinking an extra splash of color, like this coral (?) lace ribbon I had lying around and tied around her waist, is nice... makes it more child like... but I'm not sure. What do you think? 
Embellish it in this way? In other ways, like with a flower or bow or something else higher up, or at the bottom of the dress?

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Or just leave it as is, and embellish it, if desired, by letting Anneliese borrow Mommy's earrings and necklaces?
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Either way... For a project that was super simple to make, not to mention free... I'm super happy with how it turned out.
And so is my little princess.

Have you ever upcycled clothes before? What did you make? Ever do anything like this? Does this look like something you'd try for your little girl?
What do you say- should I leave the dress as is? Add an embellishment, and if so, what, what color, and where?


  1. Your daughter is absolutely precious!

  2. She is just absolutely adorable! And the dress looks great! I used to upcycle things like this for my daughter (with my very modest sewing skills).

    I love the coral sash, but leaving it plain makes it so she can have fun with changing it up.

    Nice work!

    1. Thank you! I'll admit- my sewing skills are also very modest. This really was very easy to do- anything with sleeves I'd be scared to try... I like the idea of being able to change it up. Maybe I should get a flower pin or something that you can add to it but take it up.

  3. You are amazing! So inspiring to me. I love the dress and I especially love it with the sash.

  4. Your little girl is such a cutie. Our daughter is a few months younger and dressup is just starting to become a thing over here. I'd agree with Miss Frugal to keep it plain, then give her jewellery or ribbons so she can dress it up and make new outfits!

  5. She is so cute! what a smile :). The dress turned out cute, I'm impressed you did it so quickly. I also love that it is black: one doesn't often see kids in black but I think it is adorable, especially on little girls. My mother and I often upcycle clothes that we buy for cheap in a second hand shop that sells them by the weight (often extremely cheap). We enjoy the sewing process and figuring everything out almost more than having and wearing new outfits!
    I enjoy reading your blog all the way from Croatia!

  6. Such a great talent to be able to make little girl clothes out of what you find. I have the skills to fix a bunch with a needle and thread but I know that this one is out of my league. Great job. Keep it up I love your blog. P,S. You little girl is as cute as a bugs ear. Tammy Romberg

  7. Aww, such a cutie! That's the joy of this age. They look cute in everything.


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