easy upcycled pajames: from t-shirt to nightgown in 15 minutes

Like upcycling? Check out the women’s shirt to easy A-line baby dress tutorial or men’s shirt to little boy pajamas!

It’s garage sale season, which means it’s easy to pick up t-shirts for 50 cents or so – much less than it would cost to buy knit fabric. It’s also summer break for the kids, which means it’s a great time to clean out closets and figure out what can be donated or upcycled into something else. Today’s tutorial shows you how I turned a couple of garage sale tees into cute nightgowns for my daughter – it only takes two seams and less than a yard or so of elastic.

Here’s how to turn a tee into a princess nightgown:

I used a women’s size S tee from Old Navy for my 2-yr old daughter. If you have an older daughter you’ll probably need to start with a larger shirt. You want to make sure that the shirt is long enough to fit as a nightgown.

You’ll start by threading elastic through the existing neckband and sleeve hems and gathering them up to fit. This gives the nightie a cute peasant-dress look.

Use a seam ripper to slice a small hole on the inside of the neckbinding, then thread narrow elastic through the neck band and back out the same hole. I used 13 inches of elastic for the neck and about 7 inches of elastic for each sleeve. You’ll probably just want to start with a longer piece of elastic, thread it through, then try on your daughter and tighten as needed. Once you cut your elastic to the right length sew each end together with a zigzag. Repeat on the hem of each sleeve.

Once the neckline and sleeves are gathered, turn the nightgown inside out and lay it on a flat surface. Place a tee that fits your daughter over it, and pin a new seam starting just above the sleeve hem, going up under the armpit, and back down to the bottom of the nightgown as shown below.

Sew new seams and try one to be sure it fits. If it does, trim away seam allowance (if it’s too small you’ll need to unpick your seams and sew new ones – not that stuff like that ever happens to me 🙂

At the hem you can fold your seam allowances to one side and zigzag them down flat so they don’t hang out the bottom of the nightgown. You can even use matching thread if you’re less lazy than I am. (Sorry Mom, but the two-year-old isn’t going to notice I didn’t use matching thread.)

Press the side seams open and you’re through!

My daughter said it looked like a princess dress, so I added a little crown in silver puffy paint to the blue version:

She likes the pink one as well:


I’ve added an even easier version of this same t-shirt to nightgown refashion – find it here!

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  1. 2

    Denise says

    This is great! All of our jammies in this house tend to be bought in winter, and my sweetie needs some simple night gowns. I think I’ll raid my own yard sale stash to see what I can find! 🙂

  2. 3

    Denise says

    This is great! All of our jammies in this house tend to be bought in winter, and my sweetie needs some simple night gowns. I think I’ll raid my own yard sale stash to see what I can find! 🙂

  3. 5

    domestic bliss squared says

    LOVE this idea! I did something similar to this with one of my husband’s old shirts for my daughter, and it’s her favorite nightgown! This would work well for long sleeved shirts too. In the winter it’s always hard to keep her warm enough when all she’ll wear are nightgowns!
    P.S. I’m now following you on FB, pinterest and twitter!

  4. 8

    Jane from Lil Pip says

    This is fantastic. I’m going to have a look out for tshirts for my daughter (Miss 4!) and try to make some …. as soon as the weather warms up down here in Australia!

  5. 9

    Sarah says

    I just found this tutorial on Pinterest tonight and it was too cute for me to go to bed, which had been my plan for when I was done pinning. So instead I whipped one up from my Supergirl shirt that never fit me right. It’s so cute, I can’t wait for morning to put it on my 15 month old daughter. I was concerned because the shirt had a fairly deep v-neck, but this technique worked perfectly. It still even has a tiny little v-shape to it. Wish I could post a pic for you to see!

  6. 14

    carol says

    to think i used to re-cut the t-shirt! making the neck hole smaller… etc… this is so much easier and cute too! i would like to mention, if you cut a U shape at the bottom and finish it off with snaps, you have romper style pj’s….

  7. 16

    Megan says

    My daughter needed a nightgown for ‘Pajama Day’ at school. It was late notice and I had no elastic. I used pink shoelaces and tied them in a small bow on the top part of the sleeves. It turned out better than I thought it would! Thank you for this tutorial! 🙂

      • 18

        Megan says

        It turned out really cute! I left the shoelace bows on the sleeves but am going to put elastic in the neck. I plan to make one for our other daughter and maybe a friend’s little girl. 🙂

  8. 19

    Carina says

    Hi Autumn!

    I made three of these for my 4 yr old! She LOVES them!!!!!

    She insisted on wearing one (as a dress) to kindergarden!

    I will be on the lookout for more of my old t-shirts to recycle (upcycle)!!!


  9. 23

    Carly says

    What a fantastic idea! My girls really need some new pajamas. But nightgowns are sooo expensive, and my girls are picky! No scratchy anything and only nightgowns will do. They do actually love to wear my husband’s old t-shirts to bed. This is such a great way to make those old tees into better fitting nightgowns for them. Wow! I’m so excited I might have to raid his drawer right now and give it a try. I have a couple old t-shirts they’d love to wear to bed to. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  10. 24

    Julie says

    Do you need to have a serger to sew the side seams…or just a regular old sewing machine? I love this idea. My daughter is a tall 5 year-old, though…so we’ll see what I can find that’s long enough. She can always wear little leggings with it, keeps her warmer that way, anyway. Thanks!

    • 25

      autumn says

      A normal machine will work fine – just use a narrow zig zag so the seam will have a little stretch. Good luck!

  11. 26

    Lynn says

    This looks sooo comfy and your long sleeve version is just adorable. Oh how I wish we could have an adult version ! The boys PJ’s I so have to give a try ! I seen on Etsy toddler lounge pants made from old T-Shirts and finally found the pattern on Pinterest. This is just adorable and my I add so is the model

  12. 27

    Lyndy Deal says

    I love your projects. You always capture the BEST expressions on the face of your lovely little girl. She is an absolute doll, almost as cute as my own granddaughters! 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

  13. 30

    Jenna says

    I just got a new-to-me serger and ive been trying to think of starter projects to do for practice. THIS IS PERFECT! Why? Because, i’d actually be sewing something useful while getting the hang of my new machine — I was thinking the other day that I needed to go buy my daughter some summer pjs. Thanks so much!

  14. 32


    I am going to make one of these for me! I have some knit fabric and/or another XXL T-shirt that I will use to length the nightgown. Thanks for such a cute idea! Of course, knowing me, it will probably take me all night to actually get it done.

  15. 33

    Alexandra says

    Thank you for a great tutorial!! I made two of those tonight watching doctor who – it was my relax time after a long day… I love how they turned out! I made them out of my husband’s te’s that have some drawings and my father in law’s poetry on them – it’s a bit crazy, but it’s kind of familysh (is there such word?…)))))) …
    I made couple of teeny tiny changes, though! Instead of stitching the seam allowance on sleeves’ hem down with the zigzag, I stitched it with decorative stitch – couple hearts – my machine has tons of those stitches and I hardly use them at all! What a shame… So I thought that was the perfect opportunity! And the second thing I’ve changed was the bottom hem – I cut the t-shirt at an angle but so that I didn’t cut of the bottom hem – I left it intact, so when I started sewing the sides down I had kind of a ring of my bottom hem. And then I stitched the sides finishing it as you would a dart! So I have the bottom hem complete intact! I like it so much )))))

  16. 36

    NUggethead says

    I love this. I have been looking for a Christmas nightie in size 10-12 for my daughter for a while now and the shops are selling cute ones up to size 7 and ugly ass animal face ones or ones that are not very pretty in the bigger sizes… Poor daughters tall for her age and everything shes into only goes up to size 7 usually. I’m going to go buy a cheap ladies Christmas t shirt tomorrow and sew it up!! Its brilliant! Thank you so much for solving my problem!

  17. 37


    Thank you for the like for my giraffe t-shirt. I m glad I found your blog. I ve been needing a fabric flower tutorial as I am in a project now requiring them, but not doing really well with the tutorial I ve been following. I m also very intrigued by your men s shirt refashion!

  18. 38

    Patience says

    Fantastic! You did a great job repurposing those T-shirts and have a darling little girl to model them to boot. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!

  19. 39

    amyinnh says

    This little girl is so cute I could squeeze the stuffing out of her! What a little doll!
    Thanks for the tee repurpose idea.

  20. 40

    Nancy says

    Just a reminder that kids sleepwear should be made from sleep rated fabric for fire safety. These are cute for dresses though.


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