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How to Make a Shirt Dress

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Rummage through your local charity shop or rifl e through the wardrobe of your dad, brother or boyfriend for a man's shirt.'It is a good idea to use an XL size as you have more fabric to work with and a longer length for your shirt dress. We saw shirt dresses in a high street shop recently and couldn't bring ourselves to buy one when making one is so straightforward.

Shirt Dress
What you need:

A man's shirt, as large as you can find
Dressmaker's pins
String elastic
A sewing machine (you will be using straight and zigzag stitches)
Tailor 's chalk
Ribbon, about 1 inch thick

1 - Button your shirt fully. Machine a straight stitch from top to bottom of the shirt either side of the buttons. (Make sure you stitch just the front side of the shirt!). Cut off the arms and across the neck from shoulder to shoulder so you are left with a rectangular shaped piece of material.

2 - Turn your material inside out and cut down the side seams so you have two identical shaped pieces for the front and back of your shirt dress. To decide how long you want your dress, measure yourself from above your bust (where you want your neckline to be) down to your desired hem. (Remember to take into account the curve of your bust). Check this measurement against the length of your shirt material, starting 1 inch down from the top of the material (you need to add this inch so you can fold it down later to hem the neckline).

3 -  Measure the largest circumference around the curve of your bust.

4 -  Measure just underneath your bust - around the top of your rib cage

5 -  The last measurement you need is the circumference of your hips. Mark these points on the material with a horizontal line in tailor's chalk.

6 - Now you need to make three more measurements on yourself:

✽The circumference of your bust
✽the circumference just under your bust
✽the circumference of your hips.

7 -  For the circumference of your bust (the top horizontal line), halve the measurement (e.g. half of a 34 inch bust measurement is 17 inches) and measure that new halved measurement along the horizontal line, making sure it is central. For example, if your halved measurement is 17 inches, measure 8½ inches from the centre point out to both sides).

8&9 - Repeat this for the two other measurements (under bust and hips) along the relevant horizontal chalked lines and this should give you a sort of dot-to-dot outline of the dress.

10 - Join up the dots with your chalk and draw a parallel line 2 inches out from this initial line on either side for hem allowance. Pin the two pieces together within the lines. Carefully cut out this larger outline.

11 - Using a straight stitch, machine sew up either side of the dress half an inch from the edge of the material. To stop these edges fraying use a zigzag stitch to finish.

12 - Now you are going to elasticate the circumference underneath your bust. With the dress still inside out, pin the outer edges of a ribbon over the horizontal line around the circumference of the dress. Machine a straight stitch along the outer edges of the tape so you are creating a tunnel through which you are going to thread your elastic. (Again make sure you aren't sewing the back and front together).

13 - Now to elasticate the neckline of your dress. Fold an inch of the material in on itself and press. To avoid it being baggy around the back you might want to fold it down around the back of the dress and cut off the excess.

14 - Machine a straight stitch half an inch from the fold, leaving a small gap at the end so you can again thread elastic through the tunnel you have created.

15 - To thread elastic through both of these tunnels, tie the end of your elastic to a safety pin and then feed this through the tunnel. Once it is out the other end, pull it to gather the material a little.
Knot the elastic to secure it and it wouldn't hurt to do a few hand-sewn stitches to hold it in place.


We all have a different idea as to where our hips and waist are. Here is a definitive
guide to measuring yourself. It's always a good idea to ask a friend to measure you
as they will be more accurate and will stop you trying to breathe in!

1 Shoulder to bust curve
2 Armhole to armhole (acrossShirt Dress Sketch
both chest and back)
3 Bust (around the body)
4 Neck to waist (front)
5 Waist - the thinnest part
of your middle (around
the body)
6 Waist to hem (front)
7 Waist to hem (side)
8 Shoulder to waist (front)
9 Hips - the widest part
of your middle below the
waist (around the body)
10 Inside arm. Keep the
arm straight for this
11 Base of neck to outer edge
of shoulder
12 Shoulder to waist
13 Nape of neck to waist (back)
14 Shoulder to wrist. Bend the
arm for this measurement,
run the tape measure
from point of shoulder to
point of elbow to wrist
bone, getting the longest
15 Upper arm. Measure
circumference of the widest
part of your upper arm
16 Wrist circumference
17 Elbow circumference
18 Waist to hem (back)

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