Little girls dress made from a 1942 pattern and a men’s shirt.

This is a fun little project I made out of a men’s shirt and a 1942 sewing pattern. Sustainable sewing on both ends!

If you read my blog you probably know I adore working with original, vintage patterns and have quite a large stash of patterns, one of which I sewed from  a man’s shirt.

 I used the above Simplicity pattern from 1942 to make Genevieve’s dress.
Can you see which one I copied?

Mens shirts are a great resource for cheap but high quality fabric. I once refashioned a Liberty of London top I bought at the thrift shop for two dollars while that fabric sells for forty dollars a yard in fabric shops!
You might be surprised how many fabric pieces you can get out of just one men’s shirt:
This little blue dress I made from my men’s shirt is sewn from the 1942 sewing pattern shown below.
Would you believe I fit 22 pattern pieces onto this one men’s shirt. And yes they are all on grain!

I always learn something new when I use vintage patterns.
In my opinion people had much higher sewing skills than they have today.
This little dress has some very grown up details like  aside seam zipper, inset waistband and complicated facings.
There are 24 pattern pieces in all!
I do love a challenge.
I didn’t have enough fabric for two pieces. Oh well!
If there’s one tip to remember when it comes to refashioning men’s shirts, it’s to make sure you cut out your pattern pieces ON GRAIN. If you don’t you will wonder why your sewn piece twists and turns in a funny way.
I would love for you to stop by my blog where I have  prepared a special post for you all. I will be sharing some of my favorite vintage pattern and upcycling projects. I hope you stop by!
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  1. says

    It is absolutely adorable! Using the shirt also keeps the spirit of re-use that was around in those days.

    It’s funny you mentioned thrifting for the fabric – I’ve been doing just that myself to make my Lily some lovely Spring and Summer dresses. I let her pick out the dresses she wanted me to make. Of course, she picks out the ones that look the most difficult! Haha. I’m sure to be learning many new techniques from them!

    • Justine of SewCountryChick says

      Yes, the fabric at the thrift shop is often better than the junk at Joann!

  2. Bri says

    A very clever idea! She looks adorable, and I love the the trim and buttons!

  3. says

    Just wondering if you could tell me the name of the red shoes and where you got them from. Thankyou. Lindel

    • Justine of SewCountryChick says

      I bought them on one of my favorite kids online shops. Olive Juice Kids.

  4. says

    A sweet little dress, Justine!!! I most certainly wasn’t around in the 40s, but I was sewing with those patterns in the 60s. Back then, there was only one way to do things. The rules have relaxed somewhat now-a-days and there’s both a +ve and a -ve side to this. I’m now enjoying sewing in a world where I can follow the traditional rules and skills I learnt, or I can choose to break them and develop my creative side more.

  5. says

    I enjoy the vintage clothes you make so much. My sisters and I were born in the 1950’s and these were the kind of clothes our Mom made us. We were so fortunate to have a mother who sewed and passed her skill along to all of us.

  6. marysews says

    The ddess is cute, but the shoes are adorable! I had a pair similar as a child.

  7. Jenny says

    This is adorable! I can’t believe you got all those pieces off of one shirt.

  8. says

    This is adorable! I love the looks of vintage kids patterns, but don’t have a reason to start picking them up just yet 🙂 I think details like the trim and the heart buttons make the dress.

  9. Sew Much Ado says

    Super cute Justine! I knew it must be your post at my first glance at the thumbnail (in my linky party), hehe! Love this!

  10. manicmom says

    Yes, I too used a thrifted blouse for a little girl’s dress! It’s really fun to see if I truly can be frugal with the limited amount of fabric available!
    Cute royal blue dress with red rickrack! Mine is a turquoise, brown, tan, white and pink plaid design, with front pockets, lace and heart appliques and a ruffled hem.