We are Disney Junkies in this house. We try to take out kids to Disneyland every other year or so and we enjoy every minute of it. Both of my girls love to wear princess dresses all day long each day we are Disney, even with the soft princess dress they get hot and uncomfortable after a whole day of running around the parks. I wanted to create a dress that would be cute and princess-y while still give my girls the ability to run, jump and play as much as they want.
My friend Lorene makes these amazing t-shirt dresses for her girls and suddenly the idea to combine the ease of these simple t-shirt dresses and the fun of a princess dress was born. You can find the original basic t-shirt dress tutorial here and the changes and embellishments made to make this a Belle dress is in this post.
I hope this is the first of many fun t-shirt princess dresses. Just what your kids need to be an adventurer in their play.
DIY Belle Dress
Here’s the basic idea of the dress. For a more detailed version on how to make the basic dress, check out the original post here.
You will need:
- 1 adult or youth unisex yellow t-shirt (size details below)
- 3/8-inch elastic, between 16 and 26 inches depending on what size dress you are making
- elastic thread (one 3T shirt-dress will take approximately 11 yards of elastic thread, we discovered, but have some extra on hand just in case)
- regular thread the same color as your shirt
- fabric marking pen
- 24″ acrylic ruler (optional but helpful)
- fabric scissors
- sewing machine
- small rose embellishments
Step 1: Choose your shirt
Typically for these t-shirt dresses you want to pick a shirt that is the right length when you measure from the collar to the bottom hem of the dress. This typically makes an adult medium the perfect size for a 3T/4T and a large for a girls 5/6, but for this particular princess dress you will want to size up once adult size to give the dress a little extra length so you can do the gathers at the bottom of the dress.
Step 2: Cut off the collar
This is where you cut off the collar of the shirt to create the collar of the dress. This part of the dress is exactly like our original t-shirt dress. You can read that information here.
Step 3: Sew the elastic casing in the neck
Turn the shirt inside out and pin the shirt down about 1.5x the width of the elastic for the whole neckline. Sew the casing using a long and narrow zigzag stitch with regular thread, be sure to leave an opening to insert your elastic. Insert your elastic through the casing and sew it together. (This is just a basic overview of this part of the dress. If you need more instructions view our full t-shirt dress tutorial here.)
Step 4: Shirr and add elastic
Now it is time to shirr the waist and the sleeves of the dress. Shirring is where you sew with elastic thread so the fabric with gather. Shirr with the elastic thread loaded in the bobbin and regular thread loaded as your top thread. For the waist of the Belle dress you will want to sew five rows around the center of the dress (about half an inch below the armpit seam). Sew from the right side of the dress on top of the right side of the shirt so the elastic thread is on the inside of the dress. Each of the rows show be about 1/4 an each a part.
For each sleeve, you will sew three rows of shirring. One along the existing hem and then two each about a pressure foot’s distance away from each other.
The next sewing step for this Belle dress and what makes it different from a traditional t-shirt dress is to add the skirt gathers. This is just a simple top stitch seam sewn with elastic thread in the bobbin about every 8 inches around the bottom of the dress. This is what will give the dress the traditional Belle look.
After you have sewn each of the gathers into the skirt, you can take a small rose embellishment and hand sew it into the top of each seam.
Set your shirring by hitting your dress with bursts of steam from your steam iron. This will help all of the elastic seams to gather up and look just like they are supposed to.