Twirly T-Shirt Dress Tutorial

This twirly dress has generated a lot more interest than I ever expected and I have had some people ask questions, so I thought I’d make life easier on everyone and do a tutorial for you.  Because I love you.

Let’s start!

Twirly Dress materials

You need:

  • T-shirt in desired size
  • Fabric: I found mine at JoAnns, and it has great drape, or hangs really pretty. You can use either a knit or a woven for this project.  For a size 5T, I used 1 1/2 yards of 58″ fabric. Here’s how I figured it:
    • (Skirt length x 2) + (Radius x 2) + (Desired finished waistband width x 2) = Required Fabric (please, double-check to make sure your fabric is wide enough… you can’t cut a 48″ circle from 45″ fabric!)
  • Sewing Supplies, including needle and thread
  • Calculator or crazy math skillz

Twirly Dress Cut Shirt

First, chop your t-shirt in half.  Keep or toss the bottom half; I’m sure you can find something fun to do with it 😉

Measure the width of your shirt, and multiply that by 2.  The resulting number is your Circumference (C). Use good ol’ C=2╥r to get your Radius (r).  I typically round down for my answer, because you can always adjust the skirt to be bigger, but not smaller! (ETA: after making this a few times, I found that a cheater way to do this is to fold your shirt in half, then in half again, and line that up against the fabric edge; it should be pretty close, if not just slightly smaller, to what you got with the math.)

Twirly Dress Mark Radius

My daughter’s radius was 4(ish).  I left my fabric folded in half as it was when it came off the bolt, but then folded it again so that fold and the selvedges lined up (imagine it is a large paper napkin. It is folded the same way those are).  I made sure that when I folded it, there was enough fabric left over for a sash at the end.

Then, measure from the corner fold out to your radius.

Twirly Dress Radius 2

Using a tape measure, keep moving and measuring and marking so you get a curve.  Cut along the line you marked. (If you need more examples, check out the Ultimate Twirly Skirt Tutorial.)

Twirly Dress Mark Length

Now, from the curved waistline you just made, measure the the length you needed the skirt to be (To explain my photo, I folded the fabric over one more time to make less marks with my pencil). This one is 20” long.  Keep moving and measuring and marking, just like you did with the waist.  Cut along your marked lines.

Twirly Dress Remaining Fabric

With your remaining fabric, cut out your waistband/sash.

Twirly Dress Waistband Cut

For the yellow dress, the sash was cut at 6”.  This one was cut at 5”.

Twirly Dress Shirt to Skirt

Time to attach your shirt to your skirt!

Twirly Dress Right Sides Together Top

With right sides together, slip your t-shirt into your skirt, and pin them together.

Twirly Dress Pinned
I first pin the sides, then the middle, and then I fill in the pins from there.  It evenly distributes the skirt along the shirt.
Twirly Dress Sew

Sew the layers together using a 1/2” seam allowance.
If you hemmed the bottom (I serge it, I’m lazy!) you could be done now!

Twirly Dress wo sash

It is cute without the sash too.  But I think it is even better with it, so… here we go!

Twirly Dress Sash RST

If you need to sew sash pieces together, do so first.  Then, fold your sash piece in half right sides together, hot-dog style.

Twirly Dress sew sash opening

Sew together, but make sure you leave an opening for turning. I use pins to mark where to stop and re-start for the opening.

Twirly Dress Sash Opening

It makes it easier for me to remember, and I prefer the opening to not be on one of the ends, for some oddball reason.

Twirly Dress Sash Corners

When you are done sewing, trim your corners and ends to reduce bulk. Then, turn it right side out using a dull pencil or chop stick.

Iron, and then hand-stitch your opening closed.

Twirly Dress Sash sewing
Twirly Dress ladder stitch
Twirly Dress Finished Sash stitch

I try to get my stitches as invisible as possible.

Twirly Dress Sash Pinned

Next, find the center front of the shirt and center of the sash, and line them up.  Pin them together at the front, and at the sides.  I make the sash slightly smaller than the shirt front, so it doesn’t hang down on a little body.

Twirly Dress Sash Sewn

Stitch the sash down at the side seams, and remove the center pin.


You’ve made a dress!

twirly dress

This might have sounded like a long project, but it takes much longer to explain than to actually do the project.  Enjoy your ultimate twirly t-shirt dress!

Back to Blog


Leave a reply

CommentLuv badge

Back to Blog