How to make a tunic dress

Updated April 17, 2017

Tunic dresses are comfortable and versatile, cosy and cool. This garment is truly suited to any season; wear it over skinny jeans during crisp weather and toss it on for hot summers. The tunic dress's versatility is sure to suit your body, the weather and the occasion. This tunic dress project is ideal for smart sewing newbies.

Pick two shirts. When selecting shirts to transform into a tunic dress pick something that fits your chest and shoulders nicely; this will become the dress top. Pick another shirt that has a body big enough to fit your hips without stretching too much.

Choose a waistline that will flatter your proportions. Cut the smaller shirt a little longer than your chosen waistline. Cut the larger shirt horizontally below the arms.

Unless you want to squeeze into your dress, leave some wiggle room in the waist seam. Measure your waist and add a few centimetres to this measurement.

Flip the shirt bottom upside down and inside out. Set the shirt top inside the bottom and line the raw edges of the shirt top and bottom together. It is unlikely that the separate shirt top and shirt bottom will fit flush with one another. As you pin, gather the shirt bottom -- the skirt of your tunic -- with consistent spacing between. Depending on the difference in size between the two shirts you started with, you may only have just enough fabric in the skirt to gather at the centre in the front and back.

Hand baste the shirt bottom to the shirt top to hold the dress together temporarily. Take the pins out and try the dress tunic on to check the fit. If alterations are necessary use the seam ripper to remove the hand stitch, re-pin, and restitch.

Sew the waist seam with the sewing machine. As the Sewing and Craft Alliance advises, use a zigzag stitch which is flexible enough to stretch with fabrics like that of a T-shirt without breaking. Set the machine to a zigzag stitch with a narrow width to amp up the flexion of the stitch. Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Things You'll Need

  • One fitted T-shirt
  • One larger T-shirt
  • Measuring tape
  • Shears
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam ripper
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About the Author

Eileen Pfefferle covers art, literature, language, culture, nutrition and yoga. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from the University of Wyoming. Pfefferle is a registered yoga instructor with a specialization in children's yoga.