How to make a flapper dress from a t-shirt

Updated February 21, 2017

Flapper dresses -- short slip dresses, sometimes with decorative beading or fringe -- were extremely fashionable in the 1920s and 30s. When worn with a feather boa, a headband or cloche hat, heeled t-strap shoes, a long beaded necklace and a short bob hairstyle, a flapper dress makes a simple fancy dress outfit or costume for a theatrical show. You can make your own dress with several strategically cut and sewn T-shirts in the colour of your choice.

Put on the tank top.

Measure from the bottom of your tank top down to your knee or higher, depending on how long you want the dress to be. Remove the top when you have finished measuring.

Take the T-shirt in your size and measure that same length from the bottom of your shirt. Make a mark on the shirt to show where to cut.

Cut the top part off of the shirt and put it aside.

Pin the bottom of the shirt cut-side-up to the bottom of your tank top. Pin it so that the cut side is on the outside, with the tank top hem on the inside.

Sew the shirts together with a ballpoint needle and polyester thread to make a dress. If using a sewing machine, use a zigzag stitch. If you don't have a sewing machine, hand-sew using a slip stitch.

Measure the length of the dress from top to bottom. Divide this length by 5 and round up to the next cm. For example, if your dress is 80 cm (32 inches) long, 80 divided by 5 is 16 cm (6.4 inches).

Cut the bottom hems off of your larger shirts. From the bottoms of your shirts, measure and cut five equal lengths straight across so you get five equal tubes. Use the number obtained in the calculation above to determine how wide each tube should be.

Place these T-shirt tubes around your original dress, starting at the very top of the dress. Overlap the tubes only at the ends if necessary, with the higher pieces overlapping the lower pieces. Pin the tubes to the original dress and sew them on the same way you sewn on the first piece.

Cut fringe on the tubes you sewn on. Cut from the bottom to the top of each tube, just short of your stitches. Each piece of fringe should be about 8 mm (1/3 inch) wide. Cut fringe all around each of the tubes. Now you have a flapper dress with fringe.

Things You'll Need

  • Spaghetti-strap tank top in your size
  • T-shirt in your size
  • 2 T-shirts a size or two larger than your size
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Ballpoint needle
  • Polyester thread
  • Sewing machine
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About the Author

Christina Sloane has been writing since 1992. Her work has appeared in several national literary magazines.