After going through my closet, I now have an entire box of very old T-shirts that have shrunk enough that they'll never be long enough for me again. Most are also worn at the edges or have random stains or other problems that will prevent me from ever wearing them away from home. So they are just waiting to be reborn with their bits of good fabric as new articles of clothing. Most of which I doubt I'll wear out of the house, either, but at least for every new housedress I have, that keeps one nice piece of clothing clean to wear on days I do go out.

Last week I ran out of maternity clothes between laundry days, so I figured it was time to start sewing. Until now, I had a fair selection of non-maternity clothes that covered me pretty well, but as I enter my 3rd trimester, I really need a significant amount more coverage in front.

Here's the T-shirt I selected to use for the top of my dress (there's nothing wrong with this shirt except it's way too short for me now):

Then I fished out two large T-shirts I got at Old Navy last year for $.49 each. In order to "restyle" T-shirts, you generally need extra T-shirt fabric, and I discovered that Old Navy has clearance T-shirts for less than either the cost of plain fabric OR the cost of used T-shirts at the thrift shop. When I'm in there, I always cruise the discount rack looking for stuff under $1, and add it to my box of available T-shirts.

Shown here, I've already cut off the neck, sleeves, and side seams, so I have four pieces of flat fabric.

This next part required the most precision of any step. I carefully flattened out each piece of black shirt face up on my cutting board. First the back pieces, then the fronts (so I could see the lowest neckline on top). I carefully lined up the bottom hems because I was going to keep the manufactured shirt hem as the hem on my dress.

Once I had four neatly aligned, unwrinkled pieces of cloth, I used a rotary cutter to first cut the top straight across, preserving as much fabric as I could below the raw edge where I cut off the neckband. Then I cut from as close to the fabric edge as possible down at the hem at an inward slant to the top. This is necessary both to have a nice A-line shape for the skirt, but also because you need to trim off the curved armhole cutouts.

Next I used my serger to sew these four skirt panels together (although you could use a regular machine just as well, T-shirt knits don't generally ravel so you can leave the seams unfinished). I sewed the two front panels together for the front, and the two back panels together for the back.

Then I used a regular sewing machine to machine-baste the top edge of the skirt at 1/4" and 1/2" around the front of the skirt only (because I need more fabric in the front than the back). I marked the center front and center back of the hem of my red T-shirt, and lined up the skirt seams. I started pinning from the center back, and pinned the fabric evenly until I reached the side seams of my skirt (note that this is beyond the side seams of the top T). Then I gathered the front of the skirt to fit the remainder of the top T's fabric in front, aligning the front center skirt seam with the front of the red T. Once pinned, I basted the skirt to the shirt and tried it on. I wound up having to rip out part of the seam where my gathers were uneven and I re-distributed them until I was happy with the result. Once I was satisfied with the basted version, I sewed the skirt to the top with a regular stitch. When you sew the final seam, remember to stretch the fabric as you sew to preserve the stretchy comfort of the jersey material! Then remove the basting stitches.

I also used a black fabric marker to get rid of the words in order to have more of a generic "agricultural" themed dress instead of a Happy Halloween dress. You can still see the words a bit, but I'll go over it again with another coat of fabric paint and hopefully that will do the trick.

As I mentioned in the title, this merely instructs you how to make a frumpy dress. It is not so cute that I will be wearing it out of the house, but it's certainly fine and comfortable for the cooking and cleaning and baby-minding that makes up the bulk of my days here at home.

Who knows, it might not turn out nearly as frumpy when worn by someone who is NOT pregnant (although I wouldn't get my hopes up). Anyone who tries this feel free to email me a photo and I'll post it in the comment section (if you're clever you can post a link within a comment you add yourself, I think, although I can't explain how to do it).