Maternity/Nursing T-Shirt Dress Tutorial

I started thinking of this dress a couple of days ago and decided to try it today.

I used four men’s t-shirts, about 3/4 of a yard of contrast fabric, about a yard of 1/4″ elastic, about half a yard of 1/2″ elastic, and the bottom of a women’s t-shirt (not pictured)

The blue t-shirts were smalls and the brow ones were mediums.  The yellow fabric was a woven bit of extra fabric from my stash.

Put on whichever shirt you want to be the bodice of the dress.  Mark about 1″ below your bust.  Take the shirt off and cut a straight line across where you marked.

I wanted to make the top a bit more feminine, so I pinned up the sleeves and pinned under the collar.

Sew the new sleeve hems and collar.

Sew two lines for the collar: one near the new finished edge and one near the old finished edge (now sewn to the inside of the shirt).

To make the sash I measured around my ribcage under my bust and divided that number in half and added 3 inches.  I cut one large rectangle with a length equal to my halved + 3″ measurement and a width of 11″.

Fold the rectangle in half and cut it into two measurement + 3″ x 5.5″ rectangles.

Using 1/2″ elastic, create ruching on the sash by stretching the elastic and sewing it onto the fabric with a zig-zag stitch.  Do three stretches of elastic: one at each end of the sash panel and one in the middle.

After sewing elastic lengths to create rushing, set stitch width and length back to normal and sew the ruched rectangle to the unruched rectangle (right sides together).  Only stitch the long edges.  Leave the short edges unstitched.

Turn and iron.  I turned in the raw edges at the short ends and ironed them flat as well.

Cut two more sash panels to make the ties.  Mine were 38″ x 8″.

Fold each tie with the right sides together to make a long, skinny rectangle.  Clip one of the ends of each tie to make a point.  Sew, leaving the non-pointy ends open.

Turn ties right-side-out.  Iron flat.  Pin unfinished tie ends into either side of sash middle panel.  Sew.

Pin ruched side of sash to right side of bodice, matching the middle of the sash to the middle of the bodice.  Sew only the middle sash panel to the front edge of the bodice.  Leave the ties free.

To make the skirt, first cut the other color t-shirts (mine were brown) right below the sleeves.

My t-shirts were constructed as a continuous tube.  I cut each tube open at one side to make long rectangular panels.

For the front skirt panel, trim the rectangle to your ribcage measurement.  For the back skirt panel, trim the rectangle to about 75% of your ribcage measurement (.75 x measurement).

Cut the bottom off your other t-shirt (matches the bodice).

Make sure this tub matches the width of the tube from the bodice t-shirt.

Cut the tubes from the first t-shirt and the last t-shirt to make long rectangular panels.  Trim these panels to match your other panels (skirt front and skirt back).

The hem of the second color t-shirt creates the casing for your 1/4″ waist elastic.

Cut 1/4″ elastic to fit loosely around your ribcage.   Cut length in half.  Using safety pins, thread one of each waist elastic into skirt front and skirt back.

Tack ends of elastics.

Sew skirt front to skirt back, right sides together.

Carefully pin right side of skirt back to right side of bodice back until the skirt reaches the edge of the middle sash panel.  Leave ties free.  Sew skirt back to bodice back, avoiding sewing on the elastic inside the skirt back casing.

Find middle of skirt front.  Pin to sash/bodice seam (sash, bodice, skirt front).  Sew about 3/4″.  Leave the rest of the skirt front unattached to create nursing openings.

Try on the dress and see where the length hits you.  You will add another panel that matches the bodice t-shirt.  That was too short for me, so I added a strip of white t-shirt fabric to increase the dress length.  Sew the lower skirt front to the lower skirt back (right sides together).  Sew the lower skirt to the upper skirt using the t-shirt hem as the dress hem.


I could have stopped here, but I wasn’t satisfied with the neckline of the bodice.  I decided to use more 1/2″ elastic to create ruching down the center of the bodice front.


To wear as a nursing dress, lay the sash flat and cinch the sash around your waist/lower rib cage.  The sash hides the nursing openings.

Lift the sash to breastfeed.

To wear as a maternity dress, fold the sash under itself so that it sits above your baby bump.

Enjoy your comfortable t-shirt dress!


About Laura

I've been homeschooling since 2005. I have six children (born 2000 - 2012). We are eclectic in our approach with a bit more Well-Trained Mind philosophy over anything else.
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One Response to Maternity/Nursing T-Shirt Dress Tutorial

  1. wendeeb says:

    This is adorable! I know this reply is late, and I hope you are still doing wonderfully with ALL your babes. I’m using your literature curriculum for my 7,9, and 11 y/o starting in the Fall. Thank you.

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