Turning an old tee into a toddler top – small person celebrates!

13 Jun

I found an old t-shirt lurking in my pile of painting clothes t’other day and realised it was the perfect colour for a top for Storm.

I’ve been following the fantastic sewing blog Craftiness is Not Optional for a few months but had yet to tackle any of its brilliant tutorials. I’ve been reading some more about sewing knit fabric (use polyester thread and a slight zig zag stitch, apparently) so I picked out the Playdate Dress and got stuck in.

First up, I cut the tee into pieces, keeping all the hems intact but cutting off any seams. This gave me an idea of how much fabric I had to play with.


Then I drew around a folded tee which fits Storm, marking the points of the shoulder seams and drawing a nice curve for the armhole. If you’re not familiar with this shape you could always use a French curve, rather than doing it freehand. I ended the bodice just below the armhole, to give an empire line.


Storm’s template tee had quite a high front neckline, and the poor child has inherited my giant bonce, so I drew on a second one a bit lower, and cut out the front bodice template, leaving the higher neck for now.  I then drew around this template (for the back bodice), and cut it out, before going back to the first template and cutting the lower neck (now I didn’t need to draw around it any more).


I didn’t need to cut a sleeve template as the cap sleeves of the tee were perfect for gathering into the smaller armhole, but this is the shape you’re aiming for if you’re not using a cap sleeve tee.

I sewed one of the shoulder seams of the bodice, and then made some bias tape from a pair of Storm’s too-short trousers , which I pinned around the neck and stitched in place, before sewing the second shoulder together. I think next time I’d use a zigzag stitch to sew on the binding, as it was tricky to catch both sides at once, and I had to go back over in a few areas, which looked messy. But it was the first time I’ve used knit binding so we’ll let that one go…


The I sewed a gathering stitch on the sleeves, and pinned and sewed them in place, before removing the gathering stitch. I was really pleased with how they turned out – they look so cute!

Next I cut out two squares from the remaining fabric for the ‘skirt’. At this point I realised my Playdate dress was going to have to be a Playdate tunic, but that’s cool. It wasn’t a very big tee shirt to start with.


Another gathering stitch along the top of the squares, before stitching them to the bodice on both sides, a quick side seam (x 2) to join everything together, and hey presto! From start to finish, about 2 and a half hours.


Next time will be quicker as I’ve kept the templates, which I made with freezer paper which my friend Helen gave me to have a play with. Thanks Helen!

The original Playdate dress had a pocket with more binding, but I couldn’t be bothered didn’t have enough fabric to make a pocket too. I was pleased with myself for leaving all the hems on the tee shirt, saving myself the headache of sewing knit hems without an overlocker.

I’m still not sure how I managed to produce a blue-eyed strawberry blonde, and it’s taken me a while to learn what colours suit Storm, but this blue is good on her, isn’t it?


I’ve already cut out a second tee, plus some lovely light blue cotton with white stars for the Anna dress from the same blog. Yay for sewing!


4 Responses to “Turning an old tee into a toddler top – small person celebrates!”

  1. Shani Phethean-Hubble June 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Brilliant !!! Quite inspiring, and the dress is lovely too !!!!

  2. Textureknit June 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Great idea. My only problem don’t possess a sewing machine.


  3. Jenny June 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    That is awesome!


  1. Ric rac flower number 3 « Nana taught me how - June 23, 2011

    […] they were just too lovely. It’s all very well making cute stuff for your toddler, but I wanted a ric rac flower […]

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