A Pirate’s Life For Me


About a week ago an adorable little face knocked on my door and then screamed at me through the door. She had a message in a bottle for me. An invitation to her birthday party. And she also screamed, “You make me a dress?” I knew she was coming over, but I didn’t know how funny the greeting at the door would actually be. This particular punkin head just turned 3 and is celebrating her birthday with a pirate pool party this weekend. Her mom, my boss, had asked me if I would help turn her pirate shirt into a dress for the party. How could I say no to a cute toddler screaming through the glass door on my front porch because she was too excited to wait for me to open the door? I can’t say no to that.


Here is the original shirt. It was ordered too big on purpose so it could be made into something, but it wasn’t super gigantic. I looked at it for a while trying to come up with a plan. As I was sitting here pondering I realized I had a red and white striped shirt in my stash to cut up. Like most crafters, I just have some extra random things laying around like a bin full of t-shirts that are whole and cut up.


This would be the perfect addition to the pirate outfit. I just needed something extra so the bottom would be long enough to make a skirt, but as I started working, it became more than just a skirt.

I started measuring and cutting the pink shirt first. It would be one shoulder so it needed to be fitted at the top and wider at the bottom. I used a seam ripper to take out the seam on the bottom of the pink shirt so I had a little extra length, cut off both sleeves, and brought the sides in. I used the red and white shirt to make layers on the skirt part of the dress. One was sewn on the outside right under the belt and the other was sewn on the inside so it hung out the bottom. On all 3 layers I cut a zig-zag design. The shirt was rolling up at the points so I ironed them down and used a zig-zag stitch over the edge. I also made one short sleeve out of the red and white with a zig-zag design at the end. I used the hem off the bottom of the red and white shirt to make a finished edge around the top of the dress and a strap on the the other side.


Here is the finished pirate dress. I know she liked it because when I went to deliver it she immediately stripped down to try it on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the detail on the bottom of the skirt. I so wish I had a serger at times liked these when I want to finish the edge of something. Lucky for me this didn’t need to be totally perfect.


Of course there was a hair bow to match. What good is a pirate without a bow?


Here are the left over scraps. I almost used every single inch of both shirts. It do feel quite accomplished when there isn’t a lot of waste at the end of the project. Most of this is super tiny pieces that I won’t be able to use anyways.

I’ve worked with t-shirts a bunch over the years, but I still have a few problems sometimes. T-shirt material rolls and warps. It is so aggravating. I usually iron it a little bit and that helps, but it doesn’t make it perfect. You just have to be aware so do don’t cut or sew something that is rolled up. T-shirt material is also stretchy. If you sew with a straight seam, the seam will bust when you go to put it on. I sewed all most all of this dress with a small zig-zag stitch. It allows for a little bit of stretch. You can use a stretch needle to if you want, but I never have. When I started this project I had accidentally left a denim needle in the sewing machine and it didn’t do well at all on t-shirt, so if you aren’t using a stretch needle, make sure it’s sharp and thin. One last thing when it comes to crafting with t-shirts: you can always cut more if you need to, but you can’t add back what’s already gone. Don’t go too crazy with the scissors at first.



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