Refashion Tutorial: Toddler Ruffle Skirt

It’s time to grab one of those tired t-shirts from your closet. Better yet, grab one from your husband’s closet! This tutorial will guide you through refashioning a t-shirt into a cute ruffly skirt for your little girl. This is an easy project, perfect if you are a beginner sewer or an experienced refashionista! The entire skirt can be completed in less than an hour, which is great because your little princess will be dying to wear it. The most difficult part of this project will be getting her to take the skirt off! Directions given are for size 2T/3T, but can easily be adjusted for a larger or smaller size.

Go here for the 10 minute leg warmers tutorial!


1 adult sized t-shirt (mine apparently came out of a laundry basket — clean, I promise)

*If you would like a skirt with a contrast ruffle as pictured, you will need a second t-shirt, which will allow you to make two skirts using the two shirts, both with a contrast ruffle.*
20″ length of 1″wide elastic


Cut Body of Skirt
1. Lay t-shirt flat, matching front and back lower hem. Measure 11″ from bottom of shirt and cut parallel to hem (this will give a finished skirt length of 9.5″ — adjust 11″ measurement if a shorter or longer length is desired). The t-shirt hem will remain in tact and be used as the skirt hem, and the side seams will serve as the skirt side seams — doesn’t leave much left for you to have to sew, huh?.

Note: The shirt used in this tutorial is a women’s size medium and approximately 34″ in diameter at the hem. The larger the diameter of the shirt, the fuller the finished skirt will be. If you are using a shirt that is wider at the hem than you want your finished skirt to be, you may want to take in one side seam to your desired width after completing step 1.

Cut Ruffle Strips
2. Using the entire width of the t-shirt, cut 1″ wide strips out of front and back of shirt. Trim off any side seams. You will need approximately 4 strips for each row of ruffles, 12 strips total (amount of strips needed will vary with the amount of gathers you choose).

Note: As is pictured in later steps, you may choose to use fabric from a second t-shirt for a contrasting ruffle. If so, cut 8 strips from your main t-shirt and 4 strips from a second t-shirt.

Sew Ruffles
3. To easily gather your 1″ strips, set your machine at it’s longest stitch length and it’s highest tension setting. This will gather the strip as you sew. Stitch (do not backstitch at beginning or end of stitch) down middle of one strip until you near the last inch of the strip.

4. When nearing the last 1″ of the strip, place another strip 1/2″ from the end of the first strip, overlapping the two. Strips pictured are different widths to illustrate overlap — your strips will be equal in width. Continue stitching down the second strip, attaching the two strips together. When nearing the end of the second strip, attach the 3rd strip the way that you joined the 1st and 2nd strips together. Repeat with the 4th strip. Leave the thread ends long on both ends of your now joined ruffle strips.

Attach Ruffles to Skirt
5. Lay completed ruffle over hem of skirt, ensuring that the length is sufficient to go all the way around the bottom of the skirt. Gently pulling TOP thread only, adjust gathers as needed.

6. Repeat steps 4-5 with 8 remaining 1″ strips, making two more completed ruffles.

7. Beginning at one side seam, align one ruffle parallel to bottom of hem, close to edge. Using normal machine settings, stitch ruffle to skirt, following basting stitch line that you made in step 4. Allow the end of the ruffle to overlap the beginning 1/2″, backstitch, and cut off any excess ruffle.

8. Pin second ruffle 1/4″ above first ruffle and stitch in place as you did the first ruffle.

9. Pin third ruffle 1/4″ above second ruffle and stitch in place as you did the first and second ruffles.

Sew Elastic Waistband
10. Turn top edge of skirt 1.5″ toward wrong side of skirt and pin in place (you may serge top edge of skirt first if desired, but since knits do not fray it’s not necessary). Stitch close to raw edge, forming elastic casing for waistband. Leave a 1″ opening to insert elastic.

11. Insert elastic through casing. Overlap the two ends of elastic 1″ and stitch together using a zigzag stitch. Stitch waistband opening closed.

Admire Your Work!
12. Let your little angel try on her new skirt! Great job!

Make it Yours @ My Backyard Eden

make it wear it
The Girl Creative

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  1. I just love this! And the trick about tightening the tension to create the ruffle is genius. I never thought of that! I guess you could re-fashion a child’s t-shirt to do this for a newborn! Can’t wait to hear about the leggings – those are precious with this skirt!

  2. So cute! I will have to search out our local thrift shop for some tees and make up some of these really cute and simple skirts!

  3. This is adorable, thank you for the tutorial! I’m *new* with sewing (got my first sewing machine for Christmas) and am having fun finding cute stuff to make. :) Thanks!

  4. Great job! I love this tutorial, the skirt is adorable! I added this to our link luv roundup today, come by for a peek We also have “featured on luvinthemommyhood” buttons now. If you are interested send an email my way and I’ll get one over to you!

  5. Adorable! So cute. Thanks for sharing the tutorial! Stop by Thursday and link up to Make it, Wear it.

  6. Adorable! I love the little leggings underneath! I can only imagine how sweet and soft that shirt turned skirt is!

  7. LOVELY! Seriously, fabulous! We’ll be linking the next time we do a little girl’s clothing tutorial round up…
    In the meantime, if you’re interested, tomorrow we have a friday fun find party that we’d love for you to link up to!

  8. Wow! There is nothing better than ruffles and chubby baby legs!

    Great tutorial! I’m so glad you linked up to Make it Yours day!

  9. wow so good tutorial.I dont want think about my tshirts that found themselfs in the trash, because they were tired :I I am definitly doing the skirt and the legwarmers.

  10. One of the best tutorials I’ve come across. This has everything…style and easy to make. Thanks for sharing your talent!

  11. Thanks for a great tutorial! I’ve refashioned many t-shirts and done ruffles on things, but it never occurred to me to make a skirt like this. I think my daughter will love it!

  12. I love this idea and can’t wait to try it out. I am just wondering if you think it could work as a drawstring skirt too so you don’t have to worry about exact size? Are drawstrings a no-no for kids? Just curious! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  13. Heidi — you could definitely do it with a drawstring, just add a buttonhole before you turn and sew your top casing over. I think as a general rule drawstrings aren’t recommended for children under 3, so you may want to take that into consideration. If you’re worried, you could stitch the drawstring in place in the center back of the skirt.

  14. Thanks for the tip – Your site is amazing. I have made the rag edge blanket, swiffer duster and floor sweeper in the past couple days and am thrilled with how they’ve worked out!!
    I am a beginner sewer and so have stumbled to figure out some things about my machine but your instructions are so clear and there are such creative ideas! I’ve already had numerous friends put in an “order” for the reusable swiffer items!

  15. Love it! Went through all my older t-shirts and made my daughter a skirt for Fourth of July! The hardest part was getting her to hold still long enough for measurements! :) Thanks so much!!!!

  16. I would love to know how these come out when washed. Can anyone tell me if the ruffles keep their shape or does the top side fall down? I love how they look and would rather not have to iron them, so if I can find out in advance that they sag I lot I might sew them nearer to the upper edge of the ruffle. Thanks for any input!

  17. I stumbled upon your tutorial and decided to make one of these for my 5 year old. I used two shirts one was an XL and another for the coordinating ruffle. I only used one row of ruffle because my 5 year old was so anxious to wear it!
    Then for something different, I took one of the gathered strips and made a simple flower, sewed it on and WOW–so cute! Thanks for the tutorial!

    Kristie – Rustic Star Primitives

  18. Great tutorial – the pictures & walk-through of making the ruffles are very helpful. You can save even more time by using the bottom hem of the t-shirt as the waistband for the skirt & cover the raw/cut end with the ruffles. Just cut a small slit in the hem & thread the elastic through, sew together & stitch closed. One less seam to sew!

  19. I have a huge pile of worn out t-shirts waiting to be repurposed! There aren’t any children in my house, so maybe I’ll tweak this a little to make it the right size for a grown-up. Could be cute for summer!

  20. Abby! I’ve been wanting to try this forever, and I finally made 2 skirts and a pair of leg warmers this week. I posted them on my blog and linked back here. Thanks for the great tutorials! (P.S. Ivy’s chubby legs meant I had to undo the leg warmer cuff and redo it with a zig zag stitch so it would stretch! Haha, she gets her thighs from me!)

    Oh, AND I made a ruffled tree skirt from your linky party. Love your blog!

  21. I know this post is old, but I made my daughter those same baby legs from Target knee socks – love them with the skirt!

  22. I think this is so adorable, especially with the different color ruffles. If only my almost two year old hadn’t inherited my husband’s long torso and short legs. Between that and her baby belly, skirts just aren’t a good look for her. LOL

  23. That’s really good work. Personally I love these kind of things, so thanks for sharingthings, so thanks for sharing

  24. Just found your blog and love it!
    I have a request. My daughters keep asking me to turn some of their old jeans into cute skirts. I need some ideas!

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