I just love finding cute things on clearance for $3...but what if they don’t fit? Good thing I also love making clothing that doesn’t work, work! I found this 5T girl’s off-the-shoulder shirt at Walmart for $3 because the outfit was missing the pants! I don’t have a child in 5T size obviously, but a 5T shirt can make a perfect dress for an 18-month old! These are the steps I did to make it wearable. Here’s Hazel wearing the “before” product!
Here it is laid out:
This is a visual of what the plan is - removing the straps (purple Xs) cut the neckline smaller at the sleeves and collar and reattach (red lines), and then sew elastic inside the shirt to gather the waist into a dress (blue line).
First step - removing the straps! If they were sewn into a seam that was holding the shirt together, I would have just cut them as close to the seam as possible so they didn’t show, and removing them wouldn’t make the shirt fall apart. As you can see below, the seams holding the straps on were not the same as the continuing neckline seams, so I was able to pick out the stitching and remove the straps cleanly.
Shirt intact, and straps gone!
Now I had a clean neckline to work with. I laid a shirt of Hazel’s down to see how much length to cut from the neckline. The blue marks are where I decided to measure from (I accidentally took the following couple of pictures before I removed the straps so please ignore their presence 😂) as I wanted the neckline slightly looser than a regular onesie’s.
I measured how much length needed to be removed to make the new neckline the right size...
And then centered that amount of length over the seam I’m cutting out! I want it to look as natural as possible, so I’m taking the length from the sleeves and the neckline evenly.
Now I need to remove the length from only the neckline, not the rest of the garment. So I followed the curve of the original seam but cut it triangularly to keep the sleeve intact and remove only length from the neckline!
The easiest way to make sure your cuts are the same is to use the piece you cut out as a template for the other side!
Now time to reattach the sleeves!
I’ve marked the edge of the sleeve in blue and the edge of the shirt in green so it’s easier to see what’s going on in the field of pink gingham!
Make sure the right sides of the fabric are always together, whatever you do! Haha and the neckline elastic lining up is more important than the armpit. If your seams aren’t exactly lining up, it would be better to wrinkle in the armpit instead of making the neckline uneven!
Here’s what the pinned sleeve looks like from the inside!
For the pinned edges to be showing so you can sew them, the sleeves need to end up inside the shirt, with the shirt inside out.
Sew around the pinned seams!
Heres what it will look like!
Here’s what they look like right side out.
Almost done! Last step is the waistline! The easiest way to add a gathered waist to this dress is to sew elastic to the inside.
To get the size for the elastic, I measured Hazel’s waist and cut elastic to the same length, unstretched. I didn’t add any extra for the overlap when I measured, since it’s stretchy anways, and sewing it to fabric will make it slightly stretched out and longer.
Instead of sewing elastic with a “right sides together” approach, overlapping the elastic regularly and sewing a zig zag stitch back and forth a few times.
It’s nice and smooth, smoother than a regular seam would be! It will lay flatter under the dress as well.
I made the waist sit about an inch below the armpits. Measure on both sides and pin the elastic evenly to both side seams.
Find the middle of the elastic and pin it to the middle of the shirt.
Now the elastic needs to be sewn while the fabric is being stretched! When you have it lined up on your sewing machine and are ready to sew, hold one of the pinned spots like this...
Stretch the elastic like this, so the elastic is the same width as the fabric between the two pins.
Use a zigzag stitch so it will stretch with the elastic!
Backstitch at the beginning/end, and you’re done!
Ta-Da! Cute little peasant dress from a $3 top. How cute is Hazel showing it off?
Let me know if you have any questions or comments below!
Hey there! My name is Kirstie. I'm here to jot down what it's like for us to make our way in the world - having fun on a budget, refashioning and DIY-ing our hearts out, pursuing business ventures, and raising a sweet babe in this crazy world. Join me for a slightly haphazard journaling of my little family and our pursuits and adventures!