15 Minute Babydoll Dress Tutorial

I am in love with baby doll dresses. They make you look like you have an hour-glass figure no matter your body type, they hide your tummy, and are so feminine and sweet. You can wear them to a fancy brunch or just to work. And its a no-brainer in the morning when I am half asleep and cannot put together an outfit to save my life. Plus they are super trendy right now, though I can't think of a time when they would be out of style. The problem I find is that so many are so gosh darned expensive for such a simple dress. Even Anthropologie has a couple, namely here and here, and both are over $100. Granted I have found a couple at Target for about $25, but I knew I could make one on the cheap in no time at all. And here she is:

Now, before you get all impressed I have to confess that I did not make this completely from scratch, but rather I made it out of one of my favorite old skirts and an old shirt:

The skirt can be seen multiple times in my self portrait challenge over on flickr, and I truly loved it, but when I lost some weight it just was not flattering on me anymore. Too big and too long, but too cool to get rid of. The shirt had never been the best fit on my figure, but I adored the button and neckline details and wore it from time to time.

I decided to put them together and make the ultimate dress, and if I hadn't been stopping every few seconds to take a picture, in total it must have taken all of 15 minutes. Wanna make one? Then grab an old skirt and shirt combo and follow me:

My skirt had a side zipper, so I decided to fit it to my waist by putting what is essentially a big pleat, or dart, in the back. (If your skirt has a back zipper, divide the excess evenly at both side seams and follow these same directions.) So, turn your skirt inside out and put it on backwards. (If you have a back zipper you can put it on frontwards.) Pull it up around your waist and gather the excess fabric until the skirt fits nicely:

Pin the excess together right where you are pinching so you will know where to sew the seam, and only pin down to the bottom of the waistband:

Then place pins in a nice even row and sew right down the middle, just to the bottom of the waist band:

Flatten out the little pleat, pin it, and tack it down with a few stitches so it won't be bulky in the end:

Now try the skirt on and make sure it fits:

And see, you cannot even tell there is a big pleat back there:

Now, you could stop here and have a nice waist-high skirt that you can wear with a lot of different tops, but I like the simplicity of a dress so I grabbed the shirt and put it on, then tucked it into the skirt, and pinned it all around. This would have been so much easier with someone to help me, but alas I was all on my own:

Now, carefully remove the dress without poking yourself, and stitch a straight seam all the way around the waist band, getting as close to the edge as possible so the top of it won't roll or fold over. 
Be sure not to sew across the zipper, as you will need to use it to get the dress on and off since the waist is so fitted. 
I actually like to start sewing at the side opposite the zipper and sew towards it, so that any excess fabric that might gather at the end will add extra give when the zipper is open.

When you finish sewing, try it on just to make sure everything fits, then trim off the bottom of the shirt, leaving about 4 inches to create a little "privacy flap" of fabric that can lay behind the zipper. So long as you are using cotton jersey you don't have to worry about hemming the cut edge. If the shirt you chose is any other material, be sure to zigzag stitch over the edge.

And feel free to embellish all you want. I added a couple of rows of red rickrack around the waistband. I don't know why more articles of clothing don't have rickrack, I just love it! 

I have a little pile of old skirts and shirts that I want to do this to now, and hopefully I will post the results soon! If anyone out there makes some of these I would absolutely love to see them!

If you have found this or any of my other free patterns useful and would like to help me keep creating them I accept PayPal donations!


  1. Very cute! I really like babydoll dresses, too, and recently made one with a recycled embroidered top... :)

  2. Anonymous11:45 AM

    I'm pretty sure you are the craftiest lady in the world! Also, I really really like your hair.

  3. Thanks ladies!
    @ Alessa - Doesn't surprise me you have made one already, I just love your handmade clothes!
    @ Danielle - Lol, I don't know about that! And likewise on the hair darlin'. Cute blog!

  4. holy crap how easy is that! i so gotta do this!

  5. Anonymous1:43 PM

    Love it can't wait to recycle something in my closet!