Clothes are some kind of issue in my family, it turns out. I’ve got kids who out grow them almost before they’re in them; and I’ve got a husband who wears through clothes like he’s one of the kids too. And, you know, clothes are expensive. I like to shop as much as the next girl, and I especially love to buy fancy things for my littles; but I’m always looking for ways to save money in the clothing department.
Enter a stack of my husband’s neglected t-shirts. I weeded through and eliminated the gross ones; but I found those inevitable never-worn gems too. That’s when I had a brainstorm.
Rather than buy new jammies for my daughter, I make nightgowns from my husband’s old t-shirts. Really, it was as simple as that. I’m not a seamstress by any means, and anyone with a sewing machine can do this. You have just to sew one (semi) straight line.
How to Make a New Nightgown Out of an Old T-Shirt…
1. Lay your t-shirt out flat
Use a simple sundress from your daughter’s wardrobe to measure size. Keep in mind that t-shirt material is stretchy. You don’t want the gown to be tight (that’s uncomfortable to sleep in); but you want it to be fitted enough that it will stay on a squirmy little body through the night. It might take some trial-and-error to get the right size, so practice on one of the grungy t-shirts first. Mark and cut your fabric to the appropriate size. I recommend incorporating the bottom of the t-shirt so that you have a hem in place; however, t-shirt fabric tends to roll and not fray, so it’s okay to cut from the middle too.
2. Make some straps
When I first started making these gowns, I tore strips of fabric and adjusted the size on my daughter before committing to a length. Once I came up with a pattern, I could get a little fancier with the straps–braids, different fabric, etc.
3. This is the only sewing you’ll do!
Turn your two pieces inside out. Line the pieces up and sew them together on both long sides. It doesn’t really even matter if it’s straight–it’s just for sleeping in! (Note: On this gown, I used the t-shirt’s original hem on the bottom and did hem the top. You can skip this step if you’re not comfortable hemming and just allow the fabric to roll.)
4. Affix your straps
Tack your straps to the front and back with a needle and thread. Okay, maybe that’s a little more sewing, but it’s less difficult than sewing on a button! When I want to avoid sewing, I snip small holes into the front and back of the gown and attach the straps with tight knots.
5. Get creative!
My daughter now has a complete line of night gowns using this method, and she loves that they are homemade from daddy’s t-shirts. She knows they’re especially for her, and she’s a girlie-girl so she likes wearing a “dress” to bed. I even shortened my pattern and made a sleep tank to pair with a pair of white leggings–what mom would send their toddler out into the world in white?!
Do you have a favorite way to re-use old clothes? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Sarah Ann Noel is a blogger and editor writing mostly short stories and essays focusing on a young married life, capturing lessons and observations of love, faith, motherhood, lifestyle choices, and growth. She runs a blog that caters to young families with real-life stories–and a dash of snark. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor, working on communications projects and online copy for small businesses, non-profits, and magazines.