Refashionista: Adding a zipper to a t-shirt dress

Ever since I refashioned the zipper tee, I’ve been wanting to do another zipper refashion. But this time I wanted the zipper to be functional as well. And when I found this long t-shirt dress on a thrifting spree a couple of weeks ago, I knew I’d found the perfect match for this project.

It turned out just as I had imagined. And it was all done during my “lunch-break” yesterday while drinking a cup of coffee. It really was a super quick project.

If you’d like to see the tutorial, click on “read more below”!

STEP 1 – preparation

Preparation: Measure the length of your t-shirt from the neckline to the hem, and buy a zipper that is exactly that long, or a little bit longer. You can always shorten the zipper, if needed, by turning the ends down a little bit more at the close.

1. First, measure the center of your t-shirt and mark it all across the front of the shirt. Draw a line in the center. This will be your guideline when attaching the zipper.
2. Start pinning the zipper to the t-shirt along the center line. Always start from the hem. Align the end of the zipper with the edge of the t-shirt.
3.  If you put a long ruler inside the t-shirt under the center line, you can pin the zipper in place without pinning the two layers of fabric together.
4. Pin the zipper all the way to the neckline.

STEP 2 – sewing the zipper

5. Before you start sewing the zipper to the t-shirt, you should change your presser foot to a zipper foot. It should come with every sewing machine in the starter kit. Start sewing from the hem towards the neckline. Be sure to remove the pins along the way. Don’t sew over them. Believe me, I’ve broken many machine needles that way.
6. Now, once you get near the end, you’ll need to open up the zipper before you can finish the seam.
7. Make sure the needle is in the lower position. Raise the presser foot, gently pull the zipper open.
8. Now you can finish the seam.
Repeat on the other side.

STEP 3 – making it work

9. Once the zipper in sewn to the t-shirt, it time to make it functional. Open up the zipper all the way, and cut along the center line of the t-shirt to open it up.
10. This is what your t-shirt/dress should look like at this point. Basically, at this point it is already working, but to make sure the edges of the t-shirt don’t get caught in the zipper when you use it, there are a few more steps to make.
11. To finish the end of the zipper, fold down the “seam allowance”, and
12. fold the end of the zipper towards the inside, at a small angle to make sure it doesn’t get in the way when you open and close the zipper. Pin it down.
13. For these two final seams, switch to a regular presser foot. You could continue with the zipper foot, but I found that a regular foot leaves me just the perfect distance between the needle and the teeth of the zipper. With a zig-zag stitch sew a line along the zipper, making sure that the seam allowance that was created by cutting the t-shirt in half, is folded down away from the zipper teeth. I recommend making this seam from the right side of the t-shirt, because otherwise the presser foot would drag the stretch fabric along, stretching it so that it would start to form folds. So, if you’d like to keep all your precious nerve cells, just sew from the right side, making sure to fold the seam allowance away from the teeth as you go along.
14. All done! This is what the inside of the the seam should look like once your done.

I’m so happy with the way this dress turned out! Now I just need a log sweater to go along with the dress.


  1. Wow ! Kuna navy blue on üks mu lemmikvärvidest, jäi see postitus kohe eriti silma. Kulunud värvitoon annab ka hästi juurde. Super värvidekooslus ja lihtne kuid efektne lahendus. Peab ikka ka mingi projekti uuesti ette võtma. Lihtsalt Vägev !

    • Ann, absoluutselt kindlasti peab! Ja kui õmblusmasinaid vaja on, siis mul on mõned, mida kasutada saab ;).

    • Ma nüüd kohe ei teagi, kas see oli kompliment või…

    • No sellisel juhul, aitäh!

  2. Nice idea! I love the zipper color! Ama

    • Thanks! My first idea was hot pink, but the fabric store didn't have one in the right length.

  3. Ooh ma hakkasin inglise keeles kommenteerima aga
    nii on veel lahedam ::D
    Täiega ilus kleidike, tuleb kindlasti ära proovida!

    • Eesti keeles võib ka täitsa julgelt kommenteerida :). Aitäh ja loodan, et jõuad peagi proovimiseni.

  4. This is a lovely (and quite sexy !) refashioning ! I am glad you gave me this idea !

    • The dress is pretty tight indeed ;), but it looks awesome with a pair of leggings. Hope you can use the idea on something you need refashioned.

  5. i would just like t ask what website you used to make your blog? i really would like to start one and i like the way of yours so i would like to know!

    • I'm not sure what you mean by making, but it's basically a Blogger blog, and I designed all the elements like the navbar and header and so on myself using photoshop and some html coding. Hope this answers your question :)


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