Turn A Flannel Shirt Into A Dress!

We all love a good transformation story (Cinderella becomes belle of the ball, etc.), so this may be the fashion DIY version of that scenario. I love cozy flannel fabrics in the fall season, and this is a great way to upcycle a thrift store find or a hand-me-down from a family member. With just a few tweaks, you can take a flannel shirt from a drab oversized top to a fun fall dress and I’ll show you how!

-flannel shirt
-sewing machine
3/4″ elastic
-fabric scissors or rotary cutter

When choosing your shirt, I would use something that feels loose or oversized when you button the front. It doesn’t have to be crazy huge, but you’ll have more of a fuller look to the skirt of your dress the bigger the top is, so that’s just a matter of preference. All shirts are different lengths as well, so hold the shirt an inch or so below your shoulders and you’ll get some idea of what the longest possible length could be when it’s a dress (you taller girls may want to look for a long line flannel for the extra length).

OK! Start by cutting straight across the top of the shirt below the collar. Remember that the higher or lower you cut will affect the length of your dress, so cut as close to the bottom of the collar as you can if you need as much length as possible.
Once your cut has been made, turn the shirt inside out and fold over the edge 1 1/4″ all the way around. You’ll notice that this is easy to do on the front and back, but gets a little tricky on the sides where the middle of the arms are. Since that area looks more like a “V,” it’s not as flat when you fold it over and it looks kind of ruched, but that’s OK! The whole thing will get scrunched up when we add the elastic, so you won’t even notice it later.

Sew all the way around the top with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1″ opening so you can add your elastic.

Measure around your shoulders where you want the dress to sit and cut a piece of elastic a few inches longer than that length. Attach a safety pin to one end and thread it through the channel you created in the top of the dress all the way around (the safety pin is easier to guide through the channel with your fingers from the outside than if it wasn’t there). Once you come back around and out again, pin the elastic loop closed and try on the dress, making the elastic smaller or tighter based on how tight you want the band to fit.

Once you have the right length for your band, trim the elastic so the ends overlap 1″ on either side and sew the elastic loop closed. Sew the gap in your fabric channel closed as well so the elastic band is fully encased.

If the arms of the shirt are too big for you, you can follow where I sewed above on each arm while your shirt is still inside out (go up higher to take in more and lower to take in less) to make the arms a little more fitted. Trim excess fabric after sewing.

To make some straps, cut two strips of 1″ wide fabric from the collar top you cut off in step 1 that are 2″ longer than you want your straps to be when attached. You can make straps lots of different ways, but I like the flat strap method (option 4 in that post) for this style and I think it works best for flannel fabric.

Once my straps were sewn, I folded the raw edges under 1/2″ and sewed them down onto my dress in the front and back. I would pin them and try the dress on first though just to make sure you like the placement.

Now your dress is ready to take out on the town!

Fall ’90s grunge vibes for sure (heart sunnies for the win)! Overall, I think this is a great way to give a new life to a flannel and you can even use this same method to make a kids/toddler dress as well. Who’s ready for all things flannel?? Bring it on, fall! xo. Laura

Credits: Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Having an eye for something to be DIY’ed really have an advantage. Thanks fro bringing those ideas on this Article.

  • What a cute DIY! I love refashion tutorials. The way you added the spaghetti straps is so cute!

  • Wow, this dress looks absolutely cool, what an amazing idea!

  • I have so many out-of-trend flannel pieces lying around the house and was just about to bin them for the new season. Looks like I’ve got to try this DIY first, to see if I can save them! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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