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Make a Shirred Sundress from a Man’s Dress Shirt

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Nothing like a quick and easy sewing project to satisfy a sewing urge! Even better when you can take something unloved and out of style and transform it into an adorable outfit for your little one.

How to upcycle a Man's dress shirt into an adorable sundress! (Quick and Easy Sewing projects.)

We’ve had this XL gingham teal button down shirt hanging out in our closet since the late ’90’s, I’m sure.  I never could quite toss it out.  Then last year, I saw this dress at a Matilda Jane trunk show.  

You could probably make the this style of dress with any fabric and just add a faux button placket later, but I thought the easiest way to recreate the look would be to upcycle a Man’s dress shirt.  It already has a placket built in!  (Plus, I love to upcycle, I always get a little thrill to put unloved items to new use.  

Here are a couple of my favorite upcycled projects ever: patchwork shorts, another man’s shirt upcycle, upcycled tank top, knit ruffled skirt.)

The sad thing is, my little missy is now 8 yrs old and growing like a weed, so I doubt a men’s shirt will fit like a dress for much longer…

You will love how easy this sundress  is to make.  Two pieces, (plus the straps) and a bit of shirring and Voilà, a cute dress!

I have a sundress tutorial from a few years ago, the Simple Shirred Sundress Tutorial. It’s basically the same dress as this one, (possibly even cuter since the armholes are cut out and bias bound.)  

Since my missy has gotten so much taller (and wider), I needed every extra inch of fabric, so I cut the bodice straight across the top to gain a few extra inches.  (If you are making a size 6 or smaller, you could probably get away with the other style top.)


The Simple Sundress Tutorial has a handy shirring tutorial, so if you need a refresher or shirring, be sure to check it out.  (Note: my new sewing machine is a Janome, and after a bit of practicing, I determined the bobbin tension needed to be loosened to shir.)

For this project, you need:

  • The largest button down shirt you can find.  (I used an xl.)
  • Elastic thread for shirring
  • Seam ripper
  • fabric tube turner
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Ribbon trim (optional)

Lay out your shirt (remove pocket if necessary- mine had a pocket.)


Measure your child from bottom of arm scythe to desired dress length.  Add 1.25 inches to this measurement.


Cut your dress out to final number from above, cutting along the arm seams to get as much width as possible.  (Don’t forget, if you are making a size 6 or smaller, you can use the pattern from the simple sundress tutorial for a different look.)


*note:  If you are adding ribbon trim, you need to make sure the bottom is cut straight and not at an angle- see red lines on picture below.  (this didn’t occur to me until I tried to add the trim, ha!)  Allow for 3/4 inch hem,  the height of your trim and 1/4 inch wiggle room on the straight cut.  



Sew a straight stitch down the edge of the placket to secure it in place.

With your seam ripper, open the placket on the top inside of the shirt and cut out excess fabric- about 3/4 inch.

Line up the front and back pieces, right sides together and sew along the side seams.  Finish this seam with your favorite seam finish.

Sew a 1/4 inch hem around the top of the shirt.

Sew rows of shirring 3/8 inch apart starting and stopping at the button placket.  Leave ends long enough to pull through to the other side and tie off.  (As many rows as you think you need. 9 or 10 maybe.)

Add optional trim around bottom by sewing along the top and bottom of trim.

Using your fabric scraps (or coordinating ribbon) piece together 4 – 1 inch by 22 inch strips of fabric. Fold fabric in half, right sides together, and sew right along the edge.  Use fabric loop turner to turn the straps right sides out.  Tie a knot in the end of the strap.

Have your child try on the dress and mark where you want the straps to go.  (Remember, don’t place the straps the too wide, or they will continuously fall off her shoulders.  (My pet peeve!)

Stitch the straps in place and you are done!

So cute!

Want more sewing project ideas?  Be sure to check these out:


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  1. Ty for your ideas and skill I will be coming back for more

  2. Mel at Adventures of Mel says:

    This is such a pretty dress! I love your sewing tutorials. You've always got the cutest projects! Thank you for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week's issue (and on Instagram) tomorrow!

  3. Kimberly Lewis says:

    Loving this! You are so talented. Thanks for sharing this at our party. Pinned and tweeted. I hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm, so we get to party with you again! Lou Lou Girls