Sunday, May 30, 2010

petal sleeves and tulip pocket dress

I had been busy the last month or so collecting project ideas and storing them on my side bar and last week I exploded with project after project. Here is one I had been supper excited to do. My inspiration was from:

What you will need-

  • A men's dress shirt (I made a 5T dress out of an XL dress shirt I got at the thrift store for $1.)

  • Large paper to trace a pattern or an existing dress pattern. (Newspaper, Packing Paper, tissue paper...)

  • Thread to match your dress. (I didn't match my thread too closely and now I wish I had. It's a little obvious around the shoulders and pockets that the color is not close enough because of all the stitching done in those areas.)
  • This template to make the sleeves and pockets.

  • Measuring tape

  • pins

Here's how I did it-

-The Dress

  1. If there is a pocket on your shirt get the seam ripper out and remove the pocket. (Save the fabric in case you need it latter.) Put the shirt through the wash. Chances are that what looks like holes from the sewing is really just areas that the thread has been forced out and washing it will help it settle back into place.

  2. Find a toddler dress that you have and like. Trace it out onto a large piece of paper.

  3. Once all the pieces are traced, take your measuring tape and used it as a seam allowance guide. my tape is about 5/8" wide. Draw your seem allowances around every pattern piece.

  4. If your pattern pieces are mirror images then be sure to draw a center line on them. When you cut out your mirrored imaged paper pattern, fold them on the center line and cut them while folded. This will help make sure that even if you didn't trace the dress very well, your new dress won't be lopsided. Cut the paper pattern pieces.

  5. Pin the paper pattern pieces to the fabric, and cut them out like any other patten. Make sure to use the front of the dress shirt as the back of the dress. Before cutting, make sure that the buttons are straight with the center line on the pattern when you pin it on. Also, make sure that the top button is not so close to the top that it gets in the way of the hem on the neckline, but not so far down that it leaves a gap at the top of the dress.

  6. Assemble the dress. This can be difficult to describe seeing as how each person will use a different dress as a pattern. for me, I had to sew the front top to the front bottom. Then I sewed the shoulder seams and side seams. followed by hemming the skirt, sleeves and neckline. (My fabric frayed easily so I did a double roll hem on every seem/hem.) The beauty of using a dress shirt on this pattern is that you won't have to mess with zippers, creating button holes or lining up buttons. That is normally a step in garment making that takes a lot of time and I always make mistakes with it. this way, it's already done for you.

-The cap petal sleeves

  1. print out the pattern page above. I wrote the length and width of the rectangle. these are the pieces that worked for my dress. You can play with the size and proportion to make it right for your dress. (If you don't have a printer, you could probably put a page of paper up to the screen and trace the pattern.)

  2. Cut out 2 of the paper pattern piece that has writing on it and layer them on top of each other with each end hanging over the other by a few inches.

  3. Pin the paper pattern to the dress to determine if the curve looks like what you were going for. (Remember that you will loose a little bit of coverage when you sew the edges for the hem.) If you don't like them. trim the paper or make some new pattern pieces according to your needs.

  4. Once you like the shape of your pattern, cut out 8 pieces from your fabric. (4 will be visible and 4 can a lining fabric.)

  5. Sew 2 pieces together leaving a gap, an inch or two between the beginning and end of the stitching. clip any extra fabric off near the points to help make the points more crisp after turning.

  6. Using the gap, turn the pieces inside out so that the seems are on the inside. Use a pointed object, like a knitting needle to help make the edges crisp. Press them flat with an iron.

  7. Sew up the hole used to turn the hem inside by hand or machine.

  8. Pin them into place on the arm hole of the dress.

  9. Sew them into place by machine or by hand. Repeat on the other side making sure that the second sleeve begins and ends at about the same place as the first sleeve so that the dress doesn't look lopsided.

If you want a full sleeve you can follow a tutorial for that here.

-The tulip pocket

  1. Cut out 2 of the paper pattern piece without writing on it. Flip one over and see if you like the look of your flower. If you don't like it make any necessary adjustments.

  2. Pin the paper pattern to the fabric and cut out 8 pieces. (4 will be visible, so you can make the other 4 of them out of lining fabric if you wish.)

  3. match the petals up. If you are using a lining fabric, make the liner the bottom fabric and the main body fabric the top. 2 petal sets should point to the right and 2 should point to the left when the main body fabric is on the top. If you are not using a lining fabric don't worry about the direction. your petals will be the same on each side.

  4. Sew 2 petals to each other leaving a gap. the gap should be about 2" long. Trim the extra fabric off the point. Turn the petal inside out. Use something pointy like a knitting needle to smooth out the edges and make the point crisp. (Be careful not to make a hole in the point.) Iron the petal flat. Repeat with all the petals.

  5. Match the petals together to make a flower. You will need 1 right sided petal set and 1 left sided petal set for each flower. Pin them together so that both flowers match.

  6. Sew the cross over section as shown.

  7. Pin the flower to the dress in the desired location and sew the outer edge in place as shown.

Go back through the whole dress and make sure that you have clipped all the loose threads.

I LOVE this dress and am excited to make some more dresses fixing some of the mistakes I made along the way with this one. the dress pattern is still a little big on my daughter, so she should be able to wear any dresses I make with it for a long time.

Here are some ideas I have for future dresses with this pattern.

  • Make a peter pan collar to put on the neckline.

  • Make a shirt dress with the buttons in the front and a sash to tie around the waistline.

  • Make a denim dress out of a denim jacket

  • Play with color some more. Have contrasting fabric for the pockets with green rick rack for stems and green bias tape for the hem.

  • Instead of flower pockets as the cute detail, use a variety of ribbon and rick rack as striping all around the bottom of the dress.


  1. Sooooooo cute! It looks a little complicated for me to try, but yours is over the top!

  2. Super cute! I have a button down garage sale find that I want to turn into a dress and I'm collecting ideas for it. Nice job!!

  3. Great detail! Love it. I have a weekly blog party especially for people to share the things they have made to be worn. I'd love if you'd stop by on Thursday and check it out. Link up if you'd like!

    Andrea @

  4. Love it Bri! Thanks again for more inspiration!!

  5. Okay, so I followed a link over here the other day to this project and you solved the biggest dilemma for me! Thank you! I used your sleeved idea on a little shrug I was making for my little girl and it worked perfect!
    If I post it I will just link to your pattern for the sleeve if you don't mind!

  6. I don't mind at all. Link away! Glad it worked for you :)

  7. love love love this idea.
    please get yourself a link to your site and share this lovely idea /howto with more people and link it up at the Fine Craft Guild DIY Tutorial link party


  8. I still can't believe that this dress came from a men's dress shirt!!! How ingenious.
    Did you check out my blog?

  9. Thank you for contributing this to's DIY Tutorial Linky Party.

    It's beautiful and well presented.

    If you have a new & equally wonderful tutorial you wish to share with us this week, come on over. We just opened a new linky party for this week's greatest talented artisans out there!