Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tutorial: Woman's Sweatshirt to Girl's Dress Upcycle

Fast projects rarely happen for me. I see craft/sewing bloggers post all the time about completing projects during their kids naptime, and I wonder, "What is wrong with me? Am I the world's slowest sewer?" Maybe everyone's kids sleep for 4 hours every afternoon... or maybe I am just slow! Could be!!! Anyway, I actually did a project last night that only took me one hour. I am so excited! It was fantastically easy and I think it turned out cute, so I decided to make a quick tutorial in case you want to try.

About a year ago, I purchased a sweatshirt from Goodwill. I'm so into stripes, and I loved the green and navy. Unfortunately, while I thought it was a good fit, it ended up feeling too short. :( You know that shirt that looks fine until you lift your arms??? Yeah. So it ended up in my closet rarely worn. But it's comfortable cuteness begged to be made into something wearable. I entertained the thought of keeping it for myself and adding a band of navy blue material around the bottom, but then decided to make a comfy dress for my daughter. I'm glad I chose that route. 

So go find that ill-fitting sweatshirt in your closet, and follow along with this tutorial to make a cute dress for a little girl!


1. Fold sweatshirt in half, and trace a dress/long sweater that fits your child well to make the bodice measurements.

2. Cut out your dress following the lines drawn. (Don't mind the chalk lines... I decided to widen the dress a bit and went with the red marker lines).

3. For the sleeve, you can again trace the sleeves of a shirt that fits your child, or you can use a sleeve pattern from another dress pattern you own. I used the coat sleeve pattern from Shwin & Shwin's Abbey Coat. (Great pattern, by the way!) Make sure you use the bottom of the sleeve so you don't have to redo the hem.

Now you should have three pieces: two sleeves, and your front and back bodice still connected at the shoulders from the original sweatshirt.

4. Find the middle of the top of the sleeve and pin it to the shoulder seam of the bodice, right sides together. Pin the rest of the sleeve to the arm hole and then sew. Repeat for the other arm. Iron seams flat. It may be a bit wavy since you are sewing stretchy fabric, but the steam will smooth everything out.

5. Lay your sweatshirt inside out, and pin seams together at the wrist, underarm, and bottom hem. You can place as many more pins as you like, but those are the important places. Then sew along the arm and shirt seams. Press seams when done.

Yay! You are done! Wasn't that easy? 

I actually felt a little guilty finishing up something so fast, so guess what? I decided to embellish it a little. ;) I found a navy blue t-shirt I had purchased from Walgreens awhile ago, and cut three 16 inch strips: 2.5 inches, 2 inches, and 1 inch wide. 

I layered them together and pleated them starting at the left shoulder seam working down. Then I sewed two lines on the middle strip, connecting it to the dress.

Then cut a 2.5 inch wide strip all along the bottom of the shirt (using the hem so it would be finished). I folded over and pressed the raw edges with my iron, and then pleated and pinned the strip onto the bottom of the pocket.

I like how this added a fun finishing touch, and Brooklyn calls them her pleated patches! lol 

When Brooklyn woke up this morning, I had fun surprising her with a new comfy dress. She loved it! The sleeves ended up being a little long, but that is ok. We'll just roll them up for now, and then this dress will turn into a shirt that will fit her next year!

I just love upcycling! I hope you are inspired to make a sweatshirt dress of your own now. I promise it is easy... you can do it in a naptime even if your kids only nap for one hour and you sew on slow speed like me! ;)


  1. I love this...Thank you for posting...I am a slow sewer like you and appreciate simple projects that give me the practice I need. I even have a few hoodies that don't fit my son anymore that I will use to try this method out for my little one.

  2. This is lovely, thanks for sharing!

  3. My daughter always used to wear my old hanes sweatshirts i wont re model any one of my sweatshirt yet, hopefully i will do for her in winters:)

  4. It turned out so cute! I love the ruffles! Thank you so much for linking up at The Little Giggler! Have a great day!

  5. This turned out so cute! And I love that it's upcycled. I'm featuring this on my blog tomorrow!

  6. This is too cute! I featured it on my Weekend Wonders Roundup tonight!

  7. What a cute, simple project! And your daughter is just beautiful!

  8. I really love that you kept the hood. Your 'shrank' this women's top so well. What a great repurpose. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Great job! My girls would love the hood, too. I like this idea so much that I pinned it and shared the pin on my Facebook Page. Please stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks for linking up to One Creative Weekend. The new party is open. I hope to you’ll be back.

  10. Lovely Refashining. I never did one. Always it pinches to cut out clothes.. But seeing so many refashined cool outfits on the net its motivating me LOL.. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog anf leaving me a note..Glad I visited your blog

  11. This is so cute! I would love to feature this on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

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