Recycled T-Shirt into a Regency Dress

If you have ever made a dress, you know, the hardest part is the bodice.  So here is a way to skip that step and recycle your clothing to boot! Regency dresses were worn around 1790-1820. A period of time noted for its elegance and achievements . If you have ever loved a Jane Austen movie or novel, you know the Regency dress. Ours is a bit more modern but still just as beautiful. 

  • One t-shirt
  • Coordinating fabric for dress bottom.
  • Fabric. You will want to measure your child for specific yardage, we started with 1 1/4 yards.
  • Sewing thread


Make the Bodice.  Have child try on the shirt and mark just below their chest. This is where you will want to cut, but add in 1/4 inch in length for seam allowance. The top piece will be referred to as the bodice from here on.

Measure. First things first, you'll need to decide how long you want your dress. Measure from the chest to the desired length and add 1/2" for seam allowance. (That is 1/4 " seam to attach the bodice and 1/4" seam to attach the bottom detail.)


Cut out the dress fabric. You don't need a pattern to cut this piece, just a nice straight edge. You'll need three points to cut this piece.

  1. Calculate how wide your bodice is at the base and divide in half, add 1/2 inch for seam allowance; 1/4 " hem on each side.  Mark at the top of your fabric. (see above)
  2. Measure from the top of your fabric down to the desired length measurement you took, mark that spot with a pin. (see above)
  3. Double your measurement on top add 1/2" seam allowance. Mark spot on fabric. See above.

Connect points 1 and 3 using straight edge to mark fabric with pencil. Cut two pieces, one for the front and one for the back of your dress.


To create the dress bottom border detail, cut off the bottom hem off of the remaining bottom piece of your t-shirt, and then cut the remaining fabric in half horizontally. Leave the right sides of the two t-shirt strips attached by the hem, but cut off the left side hems (see pictured above) to open the strips creating two long strips of fabric. Place strips with the side hem centered at the bottom of the dress. Cut off the excess fabric, so that the sides of the strips match the angle and width of your dress fabric. 


Fold down 1/4" on your t-shirt strips, press with iron, and sew a 1/4" bottom hem on both the front and back strip pieces.

Attach the strips to the dress with a 1/4" seam. This is done by placing right sides together and sewing 1/4" seam.

Pin front and back dress pieces right sides together. Sew up the side seams with a 1/4" hem.

Attach the dress bottom to the bodice with a 1/4" hem. On this seam, we stitched a straight stitch and a second zig-zag stitch for added strength and to prevent fraying. 

The sleeves. If your child has outgrown the sleeves of the t-shirt you have several options:
  1. Trim to 3/4 sleeve length,  
  2. Create a cuff with the same fabric used for the dress bottom
  3.  Make a short sleeve. 

The possibilities are endless!


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