his work shirt to her school dress


 Yes I did.  I chopped up one of my hardworking man’s old dress shirts and turned it into the cutest little dress for Grace.  My interest in such a project was piqued by others in blogland and by a darling little dress I saw in the kids Garnet Hill catalog.  I didn’t take pictures along the way because I did it at night and I honestly wasn’t sure it would turn out.  But if you want to give it a go, I scribbled some lines on a photo for you.  If you try it and get stuck, shoot me an email and I’ll tell you what I did.  Here’s the basic rundown:

  • remove upper collar, topstitch lower collar closed again
  • remove pockets
  • chop up shirt into basic A-line dress, leaving collar and buttons intact (be sure to cut front and back together, they’ll be connected at the top)
  • use sleeve fabric to cut out two new sleeves – I used a pattern piece for a little gathered puff sleeve
  • sew front to back along side seams 
  • hem bottom
  • attach new sleeves
  • sew rows of shirring across front; I sewed 9 rows about 1/4 inch apart each – be sure the two sides of shirring match up when the shirt is buttoned closed
  • sew on cute bows (or not!) 
 If you’re lucky, your cute little model will have as much fun in her new dress as mine did!


  1. says

    Thanks, everyone!

    Ms Moppet – yes, I just removed the pockets and steamed the lines a bit. Once the dress was sewn up and the shirring done, you can’t tell there was ever a pocket there!

  2. Anne says

    Oh my! That is the cutest repurpose of a man’s business shirt I have ever seen. Who would’ve thought that something so plain and not really a little girl’s colour could look so beautiful! You certainly are very talented.

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  3. Kristie-Creating Chaos says

    That is fantastic! By far the cutest dress shirt to dress I’ve seen. I love the shirring and bows.

  4. Michelle says

    This is adorable! I have seen lots of shirt conversions lately but this is my absolute favorite. I am going to have to copy this one, the bows and the shirring are the perfect touch.

  5. Ms Moppet says

    So cute! I have been wanting to try this (with one of my shirts actually) I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to go about it but you have inspired me. I can’t quite tell what you did with the pockets? did you just remove them? urbanmoppets.blogspot.com

  6. The Homemaker says

    WOW!!! I LOVE IT!!! I repurpose shirts frequently for children’s craft smocks (Etsy store TheHomeMaker)but this is too cute for words!!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Michele Alger says

    Oh my GOSH!!! DO YOU EVER STOP?! How in the world do you top each post with the next?! This is so incredibly beautiful!!! SO want to do this for my baby dolls. Wish me luck, cause I’m not Y-O-U! 😉

  8. Shari @For the Little Doll In Your Life says

    Stef – you never cease to amaze me. This is an incredible makeover, and your model is too darn cute.

  9. Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants says

    This is just adorable! And what a memory. Imagine being clothed in your dad’s clothes on your first day of school! You could put the fabric stores out of business! I am suspecting your husband didn’t look nearly as cute in that shirt!!! 😉

  10. Shelly @A Creative Space says

    You are UBER talented!! I loved reading your tutorial! Very clear. I have to Follow you, I do not want to miss a thing! :) Gonna have to go peruse YouTube for Shirring tutorials…

  11. Anonymous says

    I Love this!!! I don’t have a little girl, but I have 2 adorable nieces! I am in the process of making a dress like this now! I only hope it turns out as cute as yours! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  12. cajungal01 says

    I am so in love with this! I only know basic sewing though and certainly don’t know how to make those sleeves or sheer….I’d pay you to make some for me though! :0) Absolutely adorable! I have a TON of my husband’s shirts that don’t fit him and they are in great condition….

  13. paula says

    i loooove your blog. i found you via pinterest! i have two little girls and you have inspired me in so many ways! ill keep on reading

  14. Kim H. says

    I found this via pinterest, and it’s super super cute! Did you shirr the back too? And you did the shirring AFTER adding the sleeves and everything, right?

  15. Jenn says

    This is the most ingenious idea I have EVER seen!! You inspire me to learn how to sew:) I have two children and could save so much money on clothing if i could just learn how to do this! BTW- I am your newest Follower. I would love for you to drop by and check out my blog. It doesn’t have anything crafty like this, just your average mommy blog, but I like to think it is destined for greatness:)

  16. Niki says

    I just had to tell you…I love, love, love this dress!! SOOOOOOO cute!! I wish I were a better sewer so I could try it for myself!!

  17. Crystal says

    This is so cute I might have to pick up a pink clearance dress shirt next time I am out! LOL. This is absolutely adorable!

  18. Gracy says

    I wish there was a picture of the back of the dress. Did you carry the shirring around through the back as well, or attached a tie on the sides for adjusting? I have a daddy shirt that I knew I wanted to turn into a dress for my daughter, and then I found your cute example! Did you do elastic shirring, or just thread? I am definitively going to do this! Thanks for sharing!

  19. says

    The dress shirt is Large or 16″ collar, 34/35 arm – and my little cutie was about a 2T then. I originally thought I might have to resize the collar, but it turned out to look just fine! Good luck and have fun!

  20. Christi says

    Love this idea!!! Can I ask what size shirt and what size was the little girl wearing it? Trying to figure it all out! Thank you!

  21. Marci says

    I love this dress and have the perfect shirt to do this with that the hubby no longer wants (actually looks a lot like the one in your pictures!) I have one question though that I am hoping you can help me out with. Did you cut the front and back pieces to the same width? How much did the shirring pull it in? Did you account for the shirring in your measurements? Thanks so much for a great tutorial and your help! :)

    • says

      Hi Marci,

      I did cut the front and back the same width and I did not account for the shirring in the width – I totally just eyeballed it – a little wider than my kiddo. I’m sorry – I know I would want exact measurements if I was going to replicate something, but really, you should just go for it – it’s such a loose-fitting dress anyway that you don’t need to be exact. Use a dress or shirt from your daughter’s closet and lay it on top to give you a general idea for sizing.

  22. Anonymous says

    I just came across your blog, and I have to say, you are one of the most clever people I have ever seen! Your designs are absolutely darling (and so are your little models)!

  23. Roberta MacDonald says

    Made one for my almost 8-year-old this weekend, and found that I’m going to need to go back and add snaps in-between the buttons on the shirred part. They pull apart just far enough that it doesn’t look right, but other than that she loves it and can’t wait to wear it!

  24. Ravyk says

    Gorgeous! I have been hoarding away some of my partners old shirts, the fabric was too nice to throw away. Now I know what I’ll be doing with them!

  25. OlaP says

    hi! my english is`t perfect…
    can i show your blog and pictures this dress on my blog???
    i made this dress but i must show yours:D

  26. Anonymous says

    I’m making this for my granddaughter right now. Question: Did you do anything to the back of the shirt? or just leave it like the back of a man’s shirt? Once shirring is in place it seems very full at the sides behind the shirring. I haven’t tried it on my granddaughter since she lives hours away. Just checking!

    • says

      HI! For this dress, I did not do anything to the back and the fit was fine. However, when I initially cut down the shirt, I cut it not much wider than a 2Tish dress. You could add shirring all the way around the back, too. Also, I found that I needed to go in and stitch down the button placket where the shirring was so that it didn’t gap when worn – does that make sense? I know your granddaughter will love it whether it’s a little wide or not!!

  27. Nathalie Swiss says

    Haha! I pissed my husband off. I sewed his polo shirt to remove some leftover threads and I got careless and it all ripped off! 😀
    Haha! Just learning my first sewing experience.

    Thanks for the tips.
    I love my Brother xl2600i!

  28. Anonymous says

    This is a wonderful idea and the dress turned out gorgeous, best idea I’ve seen as far as repurposing clothing, too bad I don’t have a little girl to make this for, but if I did I certainly would apply this idea to an old shirt, got any ideas for grownups to apply these ideas too would love to see them

  29. Anonymous says

    ohh so beautiful.. I just used this idea and made one for my princess from a pink satin shirt, LOVE IT. I just have no clue how to do the shirring. But i saw that you used a elastic thread, so now I just have to find one. (So glad i didn´t try to do the shirring without the elestic thread

  30. Anonymous says

    I JUST found your blog via Pinterest, and I love it… such neat ideas and fantastic decorating. One question, I can’t seem to Pin stuff. Wonder if I’m doing something wrong? I wanted to pin the dad’s dress shirts to girl dresses.. that is SUCH a cute idea!

  31. AV says

    I LOVE this upcycle! I decided to give it a try! It turned out DARLING!!! My daughter is 6 years old and for the first one I used a ladies size large shirt so I had to do mine a little differently, also I didn’t have the elastic thread to do the shirring so I improvised a little but it still turned out so cute! I also decided to give it a little extra pop and changed out the buttons on mine! Would you mind if I sent a pic in an email to get your feedback? I have more shirts (men’s x-larges) and bought some elastic thread so I am ready to shirr and make another! Thank you so much for the idea!

  32. Erika B says

    Such a cute idea! I am just getting back into sewing after *many* years away… My 8 year old is so happy with her new dress! I did change it up by using an oriental print with a mandarin collar. Also I left out the shirring and did gathers at either side with elastic, and added a sash. It turned out super cute. Now I’m recharged to sew everything I see!

  33. Dewi Maria says

    this is super cute !!!
    I’ll give it a try today, even i’m not sure how to deal with the collar 😛

  34. KChu says

    Of all the repurposing a man’s dress shirt, this is my favorite. Can’t wait to make one. Even though you don’t have step by step photos, the drawings and few steps explain it perfectly well. Thank you!

  35. Melanie says

    My sister has done this for her granddaughter with really pretty women’s shirts and they are adorable. Love this.

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Kellie, I’m sorry – I made the dress so many years ago, I have no idea which sleeve pattern I used, but any puff sleeve would do, I’m sure.

  36. Trish says

    Hi! I’ve been scanning Men’s Shirt-to-Dress tutorials for awhile, and this is the one I have settled on to make first, it’s gorgeous!

    My question: It looks like you removed the pockets, is that correct? If so, were there obvious holes left after picking out all the threads, and if so, did the shirring camouflage them? I scanned the comments first and didn’t see an answer to this, sorry if you already answered it and I missed it!

    Thanks for putting this tutorial out on the web for us all!

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Trish, I did remove the pockets, and you could see some stitch lines, but once I pressed and steamed over the area, and then added shirring, you couldn’t see a thing. Have fun!


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