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Make your own Sustainable Christmas Dress from old shirts!

Learn how to make a sustainable Christmas Dress from thrift store clothes for all of your Holiday parties!

Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

We get it, you have a ton of holiday parties to attend and nothing to wear!  And buying a new outfit for every occasion can get crazy expensive, so take matters into your own hands and make your own sustainable Christmas dress using thrift store clothing!

Making your own clothes or upcycling fashion is all part of the slow fashion movement and you will be saving clothes from the landfill. So head to the thrift store, or even the closet to grab dad’s old dress shirts and create a sustainable Christmas dress that is super cute and spectacular!  Plus, you can tell everybody that you made it yourself!

Today, we are going to use a once loved men’s button-down dress shirt and an old holiday themed t-shirt to create a one-of-a-kind, stylish and sustainable Christmas dress.

You will be prettier than the star on top of the tree, so grab your supplies and let’s make it!

Beauty shot by the tree - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Supplies:

Brother Sewing Machine

A men's button up dress shirt in Green - JaneClauss.com - Refashioned into a Christmas Dress

Sparkly accent fabric for a christmas dress - JaneClauss.com

A sewing machine
A men’s button-down dress shirt (raid your closet or head to a thrift store to get the best deal AND save the shirt from a landfill)
A holiday themed t-shirt
Sparkly accent fabric

Supplies - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Extra Supplies:

Fabric scissors
Rotary cutter
Measuring tape
Straight pins

Make it!

Deconstruct the button-down shirt and the t-shirt to start the project.  On the button down, cut off the sleeves at the arm holes using your scissors.  It’s best to cut along the armhole seam lines but don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you just need to remove the sleeves.

deconstruct sleeves - sustainable Christmas Dress idea cut off the sleeves - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Then, using a straightedge and rotary cutter, cut across the shoulders under the neckline to remove the collar. You may need to remove the top button if it’s in the way of the straight edge.  Make this line as straight as possible as it will be the top of the dress.

cutting the neckline off a mens dress shirt for a christmas dress - JaneClauss.com body of men's dress shirt with collar removed - refashioned Christmas Dress - JaneClauss

Moving on to the t-shirt, cut off the sleeves along the seam lines.

A Christmas Story T-shirt - cutting sleeves for the refashioned Christmas dress

Open the shirt separating the front and the back and fold it in half lengthwise.  On the front of the shirt, cut the length from the collar so the shirt hit just under the bust-line and around the rib cage. This style of dress would be considered an “empire waist” because it has a fitted bodice ending just below the bust, giving a high-waisted appearance.

fold front of shirt in half lengthwise Cut shirt just below the chest line - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Fold the front of the shirt over the back and cut the back to match.  Then trim the sides if your original t-shirt was too large.  You can also use a fitted t-shirt pattern for the correct size. The good thing about using an old t-shirt is that you can use any size which means if you love the holiday design on the front, you can incorporate into your dress and cut it to fit.

trim the sides of your t-shirt if it's too big - janeclauss.com use a pattern to help with sizing - sustainable Christmas dress from thrift store clothes - JaneClauss.com

Attaching the dress shirt to the t-shirt is easy!

With the right side of the t-shirt facing the right side of the button-down dress shirt, pin the bottom of the t-shirt to the top edge of the dress shirt.  Pin in place and sew the two pieces together.

attaching 2 shirts together -sustainable Christmas - JaneClauss.com sew the pieces together - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com sewing a sustainable Christmas Dress - Jane Clauss shows you how

Do the same with the backsides, pin the bottom edge of the t-shirt to the top edge of the dress with the right side facing each other. Make sure the right sides are facing each other so the raw edges will end up on the inside of the dress.

Once it is pinned in place, sew the two pieces together leaving a 5/8″ seam allowance.

pin the back pieces together - sustainable Christmas Dress - Jane Clauss.com leave a 5/8th seam allowance - sustainable Christmas Dress - Jane Clauss

Lay the garment flat with the wrong side facing out and using your marking chalk draw a guideline for the side seam. Be sure to that the seams of the waist match exactly on the front and the back when pinning together.  Pin the remainder of the sides together.

drawing a sewing guideline on a sustainable christmas dress for fit - janeclauss.com  

Sew along the sides, following the original curve of the dress shirt tapering in at the arm holes.

Trim the sides and try it on for fit.  At this point, if the side seams of the dress need to be taken in at the chest, waist, or hips, you can measure on a body form now, pin any modifications and and sew.

Trimming the sides seams of a refashioned t-shirt Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com trimming the side seams of a sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Once you have the fit right, trim the excess from the side seams again. For a more finished edge, you can serge the sides now.

Turn the dress right side out, give it a press with your iron to smooth out the seams for a clean and professional look.

Turn the Christmas Dress right side out - JaneClauss.com ironing newly sewn seams give the garment a clean and professional look - JaneClauss.com

Finishing the sleeves.

To finish, you can add sleeves, or, go leave your sustainable Christmas dress sleeveless.  An easy finish for the shoulders is to simply turn the raw edges of the shoulders under all the way around the arm hole. Pin them in place and sew.

pin raw edges under to finish the sleeveless t-shirt

And, If you want to take it a step further, add the sparkly accent fabric lining the shoulders now.  Note, we also added a piece of sparkly fabric to the front of the t-shirt to cover part of the design as the image on the shirt didn’t look right cut in half. So that is another was to incorporate the sparkly accent fabric.

To do this, cut (2) 15 inch x 2 inch pieces of sparkly fabric using your straight edge and rotary cutter.

Fold the long edges under on both sides and press. Then, wrap the armhole opening with the accent fabric.  Quick comfort and style note, the sparkly fabric trim does not have to run all the way around the armhole.  You can start it just above the side seam at the base of the arm hole and finish it just above the side seam on the other side of the armhole.

Pin the trim in place and sew.

Decorative trim on a christmas dress - Janeclauss.com sewing trim on the sleeves of a Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Turn the dress right side out and press to finish.

Finished dress on a body form - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

And you are ready to go with this refashioned button-down dress-shirt turned super stylish, one of a kind, sustainable Christmas dress! This is a great way to recycle old clothes and get fashion-forward-festive this holiday season!

You can pair this dress with wedge heels and pearls for a fabulously festive look.  Plus, now you have a smart sustainable Christmas dress for all of your Christmas parties!

Cheers - Sustainable Christmas Dress - JaneClauss.com

Get more creative DIY ideas to make your own Christmas dress here! If you want to add to your holiday dress collection, you can easily order one online like this swinging Christmas cocktail dress and have a swanky good time!

Jane Clauss is a lifestyle expert, radio and Emmy award winning television host.  She has a passion for upCrafting and giving old stuff a new life.  Jane uses her creativity and innovation to inspire others to create and make happiness homemade! Learn more about Jane here!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we believe in and use ourselves. 

Create a Christmas Dress from Thrift Store Clothes

Learn how to make a sustainable Christmas dress from thrift store clothes and be more beautiful than the star on top of the tree!
Active Time2 hours
Course: Beginner project
Keyword: christmas dress, Christmas Fashion, sustainable Christmas dress, sustainable fashion, upcycled fashion

Equipment

  • 1 sewing machine
  • 1 serger optional use to finish seams
  • 1 Pair of fabric scissors
  • 1 rotary cutter and straight edge
  • 1 Measuring tape
  • 1 Straight pins 

Materials

  • 1 Men's Button down Dress shirt in a festive color - in this project we are using green
  • 1 Holiday themed t-shirt in this project we are using a shirt from the movie "A Christmas Story"
  • 1/4 yard Sparkly accent fabric in the project we are using leftover fabric from another project to use as optional trim

Instructions

Make it!

  • Deconstruct the button-down shirt andthe t-shirt to start the project.  On the button down, cut off the sleeves at the arm holes using your scissors.  It's best to cut along the armhole seam lines.
  • Using a straightedge and rotary cutter, cut across the shoulders under the neckline to remove the collar. You may need to remove the top button if it's in the way of the straightedge. 
    Make this line as straight as possible as it will be the top of the dress.
  • On the t-shirt, cut off the sleeves along the seam lines.
  • Fold the t-shirt in half lengthwise and cut it just below the chestline leaving a little extra length for seam allowance.
  • Fold the front of the shirt over the back and cut the back to match.  Then trim the sides if your original t-shirt was too large.  You can also use a fitted t-shirt pattern for the correct size.

Attaching the two shirts.

  • With the right side of the t-shirt facing the right side of the button-down dress shirt, pin the bottom of the t-shirt to the top edge of the dress shirt.  Pin in place and sew the two pieces together.
  • Do the same with the backsides, pin the bottom edge of the t-shirt to the top edge of the dress with the right side facing each other. Sew the two pieces together leaving a 5/8" seam allowance.
  • Lay the garment flat with the wrong side facing out and using your marking chalk draw a guideline for the side seam. Pin the remainder of the sides together.
    It's very important to make sure to the seams of the waist match exactly on the front and the back when pinning together. 
  • Sew along the sides, following the original curve of the dress shirt tapering in at the arm holes.
  • Trim the sides and try it on for fit.  Make any modifications needed on the side seams now.
  • For a more finished edge, you canserge the sides now.
  • Turn the dress right side out, give it a press with your iron to smooth out the seams.

Finishing the sleeves.

  • You can add sleeves, or, leave your sustainable Christmas dress sleeveless. 
    An easy finish for the shoulders is to simply turn the raw edges of the shoulders under all the way around the arm hole. Pin them in place and sew.
  • If you wish to add an embellished shoulder, add the sparkly accent fabric lining the shoulders now by cutting (2) 15" x 2" pieces of accent fabric.
  • Fold the long edges under on both sides and press.
  • Then wrap the armhole opening with the accent fabric. Start it just above the side seam at the base of the arm hole and finish it just above the side seam on the other side of the armhole.
  • Pin the trim in place and sew both sides.
  • Press to finish the dress. And your Christmas dress is ready to go! Pair it with a pair of heels and pearls and you will look more spectacular than any ornament on the tree.

 

 

About Jane

Hi I’m Jane!
A television host by day and a creative maker my entire life. I spend most moments of the day thinking about what I am going to make next, whether it be in the craft room or kitchen, I always have the urge to create.

My favorite things include fitness, fashion and food and my goal is to spread love everywhere I go. Yellow is my signature color because it always makes you smile, and I love to turn the camera on you to showcase your creative genius!

At JaneClauss.com you will find projects that anyone can make from beginners to experts. I share step by step tutorials and videos to get your creative juices flowing! I am also peeling back the curtain on other creative makers to showcase what makes them tick!

I always say Happiness is Handmade. So spend an hour a day with me and then go do whatever else you want, I promise you’ll feel better for doing so. I am so HAPPY you are here!

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