Once I saw this bow tunic dress in Vivi Magazine, it was all over. I’m such a sucker for bows and anything really girly – especially when it’s multifunctional! This sweet little piece you can wear with the bows running down your back or down your front depending on your mood. Fashioned from an oversized man’s long-sleeved shirt, with a couple fixes it becomes a cute A-line batwing tunic dress – paired with pretty tights if you like your dresses super-short, or perfect over a miniskirt or leggings.
*men’s long-sleeved shirt in a medium/heavyweight cotton jersey (mine is an XL)
*5 different colors of 1.5″ wide ribbon (you only need about 9″ apiece)
*machine needle for knits & sewing machine
*iron & ironing board
Resizing the Shirt
1. Lay shirt flat on the floor, inside-out. Cut off the sleeves.
2. Cut off any ribbing at the neck, and cut the entire shirt in half down the center front and the center back.
3. Sew the front pieces back together, and the back pieces back together, with a 1/2″ seam allowance. (At the hem, unpick about 3/4″ to either side of the cut, flatten out, and then sew each side together. Fold the hem back up, and stitch the hem seam. No one will be able to tell you opened up that hem!)
4. Try the shirt on. Mark where the shoulder seam should be (i.e., on a vertical straight up from where your armpit fold is, when looking at yourself in the mirror).
Also, pin at the side where there is too much excess fabric for an A-line fit. (You want it to be slightly closer to your body near the bust, and flare out to the hem.)
5. Take the shirt off, lay flat, and sketch a smooth curve down to the edge of the shirt, to create the new armscye. Don’t forget to start your line at about 3/8″ outside of your mark to account for the seam allowance!
6. Transfer the markings to the other side of the shirt.
7. Cut along the lines to create the new armscyes. (As you can see, I’ve made the armscye exactly the same shape on the front as on the back of the shirt.)
Now also cut along the side edges of the shirt to trim away the excess fabric near the armscye insertion point.
8. Re-sew the side seams together.
9. Pin each sleeve into its armscye – right sides together, working with the shirt body inside-out. Ease the sleeve cap to the body.
10. Sew the sleeves onto the body at about a 3/8″ seam.
11. Try the shirt on and mark how deep you want the V-neck to be. Take the shirt off, lay flat, and make another mark 3/4″ above the first mark.
12. Draw the V-neck, connecting the lines of the edges of the neck of the shirt all the way to the upper mark you made. Cut along the lines.
13. Fold the neck under, sew at 1/2″ to secure. To make the V more pronounced, unpick a few stitches at the center front seam and spread the pieces apart on the underside before pinning.
Make the Bows
14. Cut each ribbon into 6″ and 3″ pieces. Fold the larger piece over on itself, overlapping the ends about 3/4″ to make the bow loops. (You can heat-seal the edges first if you like.) Glue the overlapped part together, and use a clothespin to hold it until it’s dry.
15. (Optional: Heat-seal cut edges first.) Take each 3″ piece of ribbon and fold over about 1/4″ on each long side. Press with an iron to set the crease.
16. Wrap a small piece of ribbon around the larger loop of the same color ribbon, securing with some stitches in the back.
Don’t knot the thread or cut it off when you’re done with the stitching.
17. Stitch to the front of the shirt, directly on top of the front center seam.
18. Repeat Steps 16) and 17) for the remaining 4 bows.
And there you have it!
You can use the resizing technique I used for this project for just about any shirt that doesn’t fit your figure properly…it’s the fit in the shoulders and right under the arms that gives it away. (Of course, if the shirt you’re fixing is not meant to be reversible, you wouldn’t cut the new armscyes the same shape in the front and in the back like I did above…you’d mimic the shape of the armscyes in the original shirt, just with a shorter shoulder seam for it to fit properly.)
I love the row of bows (BowRow? Rainbow Ribbons?) and I think this would also look fabulous using a cream shirt and pastel-colored ribbons. What do you think?
Plus you can wear the shirt backwards with the bows going down the back – and it won’t look like you just put on your shirt backwards or something. There won’t be any weird pulling to the front because of how we re-shaped the arms.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial – and if you make your own version, I’d love to see!