Upcycling Baby Clothes and the Art of (Not) Letting Go
I have a confession: I have an unreasonably hard time parting with my kids’ baby clothes. For reference, my “baby” is 3 years old, and I haven’t thrown anything away that hasn’t been irreparably stained or damaged. I have a problem letting go.
Recycle T-shrts to make an Adorable, comfy Disney princess dress
I’ve had this project stuck in my head for a long time, and when I scheduled a visit to my parents’ house this month I knew it was my opportunity to bring it to life. My mom is a professional quilter and a wonderful seamstress, and I knew I would need her to lead the way.
I’d seen the concept of a t-shirt Disney princess dress on Homemade by Jill, but little EClaire already had a Belle dress up costume and wanted something different. So, enlisting one of her favorite colors, I decided on a Sleeping Beauty dress and found this one by Crafter Hours.
I thought it would surely be a one day project, and it probably was for these sewing pros, but we managed to stretch it out over three days, working probably a total of 10 hours.
First, we started with two women’s tees and large knit nightgown. We used the Simplicity pattern 5695 for the bodice and sleeves. Since we were upcycling clothing, we were able to use the original seam as the casing for the elastic on the sleeves.
We used a 10″ circle to draw and then sew two lines to emulate a bodice piece, and then sewed a straight line down the middle.
We wanted a very full skirt, which is difficult to create using knits, but I like how ours turned out. Our skirt used the full width of the large nightgown, which was approximately 32″ across (double the width of our bodice) and 64″ of full width all the way around. She sewed a long straight stitch across the top and then gently pulled it all around to ruffle it. Then, we attached the ruffled piece to the bodice and sewed it together with a tight straight stitch.
To create a bustle effect, we measured all the way around the bottom of the skirt and marked 9″ high lines every 8″ around. I sewed two long straight stitch lines at every marked line, secured the top and bottom of those lines with pins, and then begin pulling the strings from the top to scrunch the fabric (I like this tutorial for gathering fabric). Then, when we had the fabric scrunched to the right length, we put stabilizing fabric underneath and sewed right over the fabric, in between the two stitched lines. I absolutely love this detail of the dress – it really made the whole thing come together!
My mother created the white accent pieces using this pattern and by sewing square pieces of white knit into triangles. Both accent pieces were tacked on, as she felt the thickness would be too much for the knit dress to handle long-term.
I love that she’ll be able to wear this any time she wants to feel like a princess, and it’s cool and comfortable enough for everyday wear. Best of all – she absolutely loves it!
I’m not sure if I would have the skill to pull this off on my own and have it look as nice as this dress does. Maybe I can enlist my mother to create a Snow White tee, or Rapunzel, Cinderella or Elsa dress down the road? I think I’ll wait for some time to pass before I ask…