How to Make a No Sew Dress

Two Methods:Using a T-ShirtAlternative No-Sew Dresses

Who needs a needle? Put together your own dresses out of your favorite fabric or hand-me-down clothing, without fussing over a sewing machine.

Method 1
Using a T-Shirt

  1. 1
    Start with a large shirt. Begin with a T-shirt several sizes too large for you. If you want the bottom of the dress to flare out, choose a shirt much too long for you.
  2. 2
    Mark the shirt with your measurements. Take your measurements using measuring tape, including your bust, waist, and hips. Lay the T-shirt flat and measure it at each of the appropriate areas. Measure half the distance of your measurements (since you are only measuring one side), add at least ½ inch (1.25 cm), and mark it in chalk. Connect these measurements with straight lines. Measure the length from your shoulders to the desired length of your dress, and use this measurement to outline the end of the dress. Finally, repeat these steps for the opposite side of the shirt.
    • Add up to 2 inches (5 cm) for a looser fit. Add extra width at the base if you want the dress to flare.
    • Curved lines do not work well for this project. Stick with straight diagonals.
  3. 3
    Trim the sleeves (optional). If you want a sleeveless dress, trim off the sleeves, or trim off the entire upper edge of the shirt. This will only work on a tight-fitting dress, so it may not be wise for your first no-sew project.
    • Trimming knit fabrics will cause the material to "roll."
  4. 4
    Cut the sides 2 inches (5 cm) beyond your measurements. You'll need this extra fabric to tie the dress together and adjust the size. Cut out the extra-large outlines on both sides of the shirt. Discard the fabric strips you just removed in between them.
  5. 5
    Cut horizontal lines into the dress sides. Make one straight cut about every ½ inch (1.25 cm), all the way up and down the left and right side of the dress. Make these cuts on the undersides of the sleeves as well, if you kept them. Repeat for the other half of the dress, making the same number of cuts in the same places.
  6. 6
    Tie the two pieces of fabric together. Lay one half of the dress over the other, with matching strips of fabric along the edges. Tie together each pair of strips. Test this partway through to make sure the dress fits. Adjust the location of the knots to change the dress size.
    • Double-knot flimsy or knit fabrics, but stick to single knots for 100% cotton shirts.
  7. 7
    Trim. Once you've tied the dress together, trim the hanging fabric to about a ¼ inch (6 mm) length, just enough to hold the knots together. Optionally, cut the neckline to the desired shape, and trim the base of the dress. Now you're ready to try on your latest threads!
    • To make your dress more shapely, clinch it around the waist with a tight belt.

Method 2
Alternative No-Sew Dresses

  1. 1
    Use fabric glue instead of knots. If you have strong fabric glue, you can follow the process above, but cut out the dress directly on the outlines. Cover the outline with glue where the two sides will attach, and press the two sides together until dry. Give this plenty of time to cure, then test the strength by pulling on the dress edge.
  2. 2
    Adjust a dress shirt. Take a button-up shirt and put it on without putting your arms through the sleeves. Button it until it fits your chest snugly enough to stay on. Take the dangling sleeves and tie a bow or another decorative knot in the front of the dress.
    • To turn this into a halter top, cross the sleeves in an X shape over your chest and tie them behind your neck. Tuck dangling ends under your bra clasp.
  3. 3
    Wear a long elastic skirt as a dress. An elastic skirt is the easiest option of all. Pull it up to make it into a strapless top. Add some structure and shape with a belt.
    • If you use a tulle skirt or another light material, you can pick up the lower edges and cross them over to the opposite shoulders. Tuck them in to the elastic band at the back. Hold the dangling material in place with a lace belt.
  4. 4
    Wear a sarong. One common no-sew dress is really a sarong, or a large, wide piece of fabric that can be folded and tied in many different styles. With some practice, you can completely change the style of your sarong dress without dealing with stitches or wrinkles. This great benefit is also its main downfall, as the lack of stitches can make it difficult to keep the sarong in place. Be confident in your knot work or pin placement before you leave the house in one of these.
    • You can use a length of cloth about 6.5 feet (2 meters) long as a sarong.
  5. 5
    Make a poncho dress. Cut a circle of cloth with a diameter equal to the length of your body (neck to thighs). Cut a hole in the center for your head, and two holes for your arms. Wear a belt to give this more shape.


  • If the edges fray, use iron-on tape or seam glue to repair them without sewing.
  • When purchasing materials, buy more fabric or larger items of clothing than you think you'll need.


  • Make sure all knots are firm.

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Categories: Fashion