Hot Mess T-Shirt Dress Tutorial

We’ve refashioned T-shirts into sundresses and 2-minute dresses for the littles, but since it’s a Hot Mess Mama kind of Monday, we wanted to share something extra special with you (because who really wants to be thinking about taxes today anyway?). The adorable Merrick, from Merrick’s Art, won us over with this cute and comfy dress tutorial she made using a loose T-shirt and jersey knit. I think I could easily make seven of these to wear each day of the week in varying lengths. One with a high-low skirt will definitely be one of them.

Complete your DIY spring look with Merrick’s Peplum Top refashion for date night, Polo Refashion for a picnic, and the J.Crew Inspired Beach Cover Up for a relaxing day at the beach.

Keep reading for the full Hot Mess T-Shirt Dress Tutorial after the jump…

dress: made by me // hat: forever 21 (shop) // shoes: old navy (similar) // necklace: c/o lisa leonard (shop)


  • 2 to 2 1/2 yards of jersey knit (depending on your size)
  • matching thread
  • elastic (1/4″-1/2″ is best)
  • loose t-shirt (or make your own — tutorial here)

Step 1.With your fabric folded double, cut two (2) identical large slightly tapered rectangles. Use a maxi skirt that you own as a length guide, or measure from your waist to the floor and add an inch or two. Make the waist wide enough to allow plenty of gathering. My waist measurement was 25″ across, as seen below, giving me 50″ of material to create the gathered waistband. This much material ended up being perfect.

Step 2. If you want to add pockets, this tutorial from Sweet Verbena is super easy and clear.

Step 3. Once your pockets are attached, let’s attach the skirt to the t-shirt. With right sides together, pin your t-shirt to the skirt, as seen below. Sew around the waist with a straight stitch, and a 1″ or larger seam allowance (this is important!)

note: I had to stretch my t-shirt a bit in between pins since the skirt waistband was larger than the bottom of the shirt.

Serge or zigzag the raw edge of your waistband. It should now look like this (see the large seam allowance?)

Step 4. Cut a piece of elastic to the length of your natural waist. Now we’re going to create the casing that will hold the elastic.

On the large seam allowance (seen in the photo below), sew another straight seam roughly 1/4″ or 1/2″ below it* (depending on the width of your elastic). Make sure it’s just slightly wider than the width of your elastic so the elastic can fit through the casing but won’t slide around once it’s in there.

Leave a 2″ opening at the end of your seam so you can insert the elastic. We’ll sew it closed at the end.

*make sure you’re sewing through the seam allowance AND the skirt…not just the seam allowance. The space in between these two fabrics is what will create the casing.

Step 5. Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and use it to feed the elastic through the casing.

Once the elastic is completely through the casing, sew the ends together to make the elastic a large loop. Now go back to that 2″ opening in the casing and sew it closed.

Your waistband should now look like this:

Step 6. Hem your dress to your desired length. And you’re done!



Kate S.

Ooh, I love this! I can envision it with an empire waist too. Thanks for sharing!

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Lisa H

so on this step
Step 3. Once your pockets are attached, let’s attach the skirt to the t-shirt. With right sides together, pin your t-shirt to the skirt, as seen below. Sew around the waist with a straight stitch, and a 1″ or larger seam allowance (this is important!)

so you’re sewing 2 different lines here?

Felishia Hoffecker

I love this dress tutorial! It’s harder for me, being a beginner sewer, to follow it though. I was wondering if you did video tutorials? Also, do you have a tutorial on just the maxi skirt? I would be very interested in that! I’ve tried looking on your sites for just a jersey knit maxi skirt but I haven’t found one. Anyway, really curious about the video tutorials though! Would love to hear back whenever you can reply.


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