Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress

What’s better than a twirly skirt?  A twirly dress!  Not having to decide what to wear with it, just pull it on and twirl your way out the door.   Well if you are 7 anyway…the neighbours might think I’m a little odd LOL!

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress c

You just start with any T-shirt you like, you could use a singlet or tank top too.  For fair little strawberry haired girls sleeves are always a good idea, protects the shoulders and one less place to have to put sunblock! 

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress b

It pays for the T-shirt to be well fitting, too loose and the twirl won’t work as well.  But since you are cutting off the hem anyway it’s pretty simple to take in the sides if needed.  You can add a waistband too if you like.

What you will need,

  • T-Shirt top (Singlet, Tank etc) or you can make your own if you like.
  • Fabric for the Skirt Piece – I used a 71cm (28”) square
  • Matching or contrast thread
  • Overlocker is easier but you can use zigzag stitch on your regular machine.

Step 1 – Cut your T-Shirt (Optional)

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress d

As you can see this lovely hand-me-down had a rather large stain on the front.  Luckily it is low down and I can cut it off!  I love the green stripes, and this T-Shirt came from my Oma in Holland (for my Niece originally) so I like to hang on to these things that no one here has.  Trim your T-shirt to the length you want the skirt to start at.  (Add roughly 1cm (3/8”) for seam allowance.

Step 2 – Decide Length of SkirtUpcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (6)

If you are not sure how long to make your skirt piece, get the child (or adult!) to try it on and measure down from the cut edge of the top.  Or if like me they are at school (and I have no intention of waiting for her to get home!) then you can use an existing dress as a guide!  Lay the dress on top of the T-Shirt lining up the tops of the shoulders, and again measure from the cut edge down.

I want this dress a little shorter than the spotty one, as she always wears tights/leggings under her dresses anyway.


Step 3 – Measure for Circle Skirt

Cutting a circle skirt can be very easy!  First up measure the bottom of the T-Shirt and multiply by 2.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (5)

So in my case 30.5cm (12”) x 2 = 61cm (24”)

Now head over to this link to use their Circle Skirt Calculator!  This is from By Hand London and is very simple to use.  Here is the screenshot from the calculator.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress Chart1

Select Centimetres or Inches, and the Full option.  Ignore the length section, the important part is the waist measurement.  We will measure the length separately.  Select your waist size (the measurement from the bottom of the T-Shirt), and hit ‘Do the maths, please!’.


Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress Chart2

After that you can scroll down and see just below the ‘Do the maths, please!’ button is the waist radius.  This is the number you need.

Step 4 – Cutting the Skirt Fabric

I find the easiest way to do this is to first cut one large square.  To calculate the size of your square, take your radius measurement 3.5” and add on the desired length 8.5” = 12”.  Then add 2 inches for seam allowance is 14” (*You will use this number for the length measuring soon too!).  The last step is to multiply the total by 2, totals 28” as I like to cut the whole circle in one piece.


Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (7)

Here is my square of fabric it is 28” by 28” (71cm x 71cm).  Fold the square in half once to make a rectangle.  Then fold in half again in the opposite direction to make a smaller square.

 Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (9)

Using a ruler or measuring tape mark the 3.5” arc for the waist.  This is done on the corner with NO raw edges (the centre of the original square).

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (8)

Do the same for the length of the skirt.  Measure from the same point and use the figure you calculated before by the * mine was 14”.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (10)

Then you can cut along the dotted line in both places.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress e

Once you fold it out you should have a giant donut!

Step 5 – Attach Skirt to T-Shirt

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (15)

With both fabric right sides facing out lay the folded in half skirt slightly over top of the top.  Using pins to mark the folds.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (16)

Fold out the skirt over top of the T-Shirt.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (17)

Pull the T-Shirt bottom through the opening.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (18)

Pin the side seams of the T-Shirt to the folds you marked with the pins earlier.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (19)

You can lay it out like above to make it easier to pin the rest.  Starting with the centre pin the rest together, all the way around.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (20)

Overlock (or zigzag/stretch stitch) together.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (21)Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (22)

Step 6 – Topstitch (Optional)

If you’ve read a few of my tutorials you might have noticed I have a bit of a thing for topstitching!  I just love the look it gives and the flatness it brings to a seam.  On a side note my kids are ruffians and any extra strength in a seam is a great advantage!

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (25)

Press the seam all in the same direction.  This can be either up or down depending which fabric is heavier.  There is almost always one way that it wants to go.  I just go with it, I like the top stitching on either the skirt or top so it doesn’t worry me!

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (27)

Topstitch along the seam using zigzag stitch, any stretch stitch or even double needle.  More on the double needle soon!

Step 7 – Hemming Skirt

Now all that is left is to hem the skirt.  I decided to use a double needle for this, as it is nice and stretchy and a great way to get a professional finish.  I chose to use a green and white line of stitching for extra detail and to tie into the green/white stripes of the T-Shirt.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (30)

First up press (iron) and pin the hem in place.  You can make it any width you want, but mine is roughly half an Inch.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (31)

Sew on the right side of the fabric all the way around your hem.  Make sure you are catching the folded fabric underneath, I used my 3/8” seam allowance marker on the machine as a guide.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (37)

Here is the front of the hem…and the back,

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (33)

You can trim the raw edge if it is too long.  This will stop it rolling down.

In hind sight I could have changed to the double needle for the top stitching too, but who doesn’t love a bit of zigzag!  Either way you are all done!  Another easy on summer dress for this crazy monster!

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress a

Any great upcycling hacks you’d like to share?

2 thoughts on “Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress

Comments are closed.