DIY Campaign Tee (or any T-shirt)

The ASUC elections have officially started, so the campaign shirts that everyone’s wearing will still be en vogue for a couple more days. But after that, who knows? Here’s how to turn your campaign tee (or any other large t-shirt) into a babydoll dress that you can wear all year round.

You will need:

-a big t-shirt (I used a large CalSERVE tee)
-scissors (the white dashes on the pictures mean “cut here”)
-a needle and thread
-a sewing machine (optional)
-patience and a positive attitude—anyone can sew!

Difficulty level (out of 5): 2, and only because pleating can be tricky

Step 1) Lay the shirt down on the floor. Cut across width-wise a little
bit below the sleeves.

Step 2) Cut a straight line down the top half of the shirt, removing the
Step 3) Fold shirt in half to cut desired neckline. I like to do the fold-and-cut because it’s easier than trying to cut the neckline by eye. You’ll end up with two (hopefully symmetrical) pieces of fabric connected by the shoulder straps.

Step 4) Take the bottom half of the shirt and cut length-wise along the natural fold of the side. Do this to both sides.

Step 5) Pleats are not that hard to make, I promise, but they are a bit tricky to explain. First off, put the top half of the shirt image-side up. Then put the bottom half image side down and upside down. The image-sides should be facing each other. That part is a little “oh, duh,” but sadly I have had to painstakingly undo many a stitch because I accidentally sewed the wrong sides together. This is probably a good time to interject with some encouragement: if you make a mistake, don’t give up on your piece or sewing altogether. Yes, taking out tiny stitches and re-pinning misplaced pleats is both torturous and time-consuming, but if you resist the urge to throw the shredded remains of your garment out the window and denounce Project Runway as evil homemade-sewing propaganda, you will end up with a unique babydoll reconstructed t-shirt—and you will be happier. Now back to the pleats. I like to take the bottom half and pin both ends to both ends of the top half, so that I know how much material I have left to pleat with. To actually make a pleat, take part of the fabric and fold it over. One analogy that might be helpful is folding a letter so that it fits in an envelope. I’m not really sure how to explain it more clearly. Experiment or look at other clothes that you have that are pleated if you have trouble. I made four pleats. Re-pleat (get it?) on the other side.

Step 6) Bust out the needle and thread or sewing machine. Sew a straight line across where you pinned the pleats. Repeat on the other side. After this you should have what looks like the front and back of a dress.

Step 7) Now all you have to do is sew together the sides. Turn the shirt inside out so that the image-sides are facing each other again. I made sure that the bottom pieces were even and sewed a straight line up, lengthwise. I used my serger for this step because my regular sewing machine makes scary grating noises and yells (in sewing machine speak) “ERROR ERROR ERROR” every 3 inches of stitching. If you like to sew, I’d advise you to invest in a machine that doesn’t hate you.
Step 8) If you want, you can sew on some buttons for decoration. Other than that, YOU ARE DONE! You have succeeded in turning an ill-fitting and socially un-wearable t-shirt (or a super cool CalSERVE tee) into a cute baby doll dress!

For any questions or if further clarity is needed, please feel free to comment!

Photos by Nasia Voynovskaya

Christine Fukushima
BARE reporter


  1. love this!!!! I want to try it right now! Christine= genius.

  2. omg omg way too cute thank you nastia and christine!! :)

  3. <3 <3 <3 BARE! You guys have been doing such great stuff lately... Keep up the wonderful work!

  4. This is so cute, good stuff Bare <3