DIY Children’s Dress: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Creation

When I was growing up, I was the little kid in my family. I had a big brother and older cousins, so a lot of the clothes I wore were hand-me-downs from them. I remember thinking I was pretty cool showing up to school in my brother’s old Indians jersey and my older cousin’s acid-washed denim skirt and freshly laundered Keds. But sometimes getting passed by for new clothes really got me down.

Hand-me-downs really aren’t that bad, and they really are the best way to go from a practical standpoint. But why not make the younger child in your family feel a little more special by turning a couple of hand-me-downs into a brand spankin’ new dress that they’re the first to wear?

This DIY takes under ten minutes to achieve, and all you need is some thread, a sewing machine (or a friend with one you can borrow!), fabric scissors, and two old shirts – one your kiddo’s size, and one larger.

  • Simple Children’s Dress DIY 1 of 7
    diy children's dress

    Give old hand-me-downs a new look with this simple DIY that uses two old shirts to make a brand new children's dress.

  • Supplies 2 of 7
    diy children's dress

    You will need:

    • children's shirt in the size your child is currently wearing
    • larger shirt- the shortest distance between sleeve seams (across the chest) should be the same or greater distance than the width of the children's shirt.
    • sharp fabric scissors
    • thread
    • sewing machine
  • Step One 3 of 7
    DIY: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Children's Dress

    First cut off the bottom of the small shirt, just a very short distance below the armpits. Be sure to cut in a straight line- you may need to mark it with a marker first.

  • Step Two 4 of 7
    DIY: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Children's Dress

    Now chop off the arms and neck (it's not as violent as it sounds) of the larger shirt. Decide the length you want the children's dress to be at this point. From the total desired length of the dress, you will subtract the length of the smaller shirt and one inch for hem allowance. The remaining number is how long you will leave the larger shirt. Cut any excess length from the top of the large shirt, leaving the finished hem at the bottom.

  • Step Three 5 of 7
    DIY: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Children's Dress

    After you have shortened the larger shirt to the desired length, you now need hem the sides of it so that the width of the piece's top matches the width of the children's shirt. Sew an even line on each side of the shirt, making a nice diagonal from the top to the finished bottom hem.

  • Step Four 6 of 7
    DIY: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Children's Dress

    Turn the children's shirt inside-out, and pull the larger shirt through the neckline of the children's shirt, leaving the larger one right-side-out. Now it may be helpful to pin these two pieces together before you stitch them, to make sure that they are fitted together correctly. Once you are sure they're fit nicely, use a stretch stitch to connect them with thread.

  • Finished Product 7 of 7
    DIY: Turn Hand-Me-Downs into a New Children's Dress

    If you don't have a stretch stitch option, you can use a straight stitch, and the dress will still turn out fine. You'll just need to make sure not to stretch it while putting it on, or the thread might need to be repaired.

    For another hand-me-down DIY, check out this post: No-Sew Word T-Shirt DIY for Kids (or Moms!)

For another hand-me-down DIY, check out this post: No-Sew Word T-Shirt DIY for Kids (or Moms!)

Check out more of Mandi’s writing at Making Nice in the Midwest.

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