DIY Nautical Dress Tutorial

You’re in for a real treat! Kalleen from At Second Street is here!
 DIY Sailor Top & Skirt Tutorial
I’ve been a little obsessed with all things nautical lately, so I made this little number to help my oldest sail through her school year.  I hope you’ll love this DIY nautical dress tutorial.

DIY Nautical Dress Tutorial

I’ll be showing you how I refashioned a men’s shirt into this adorable neck tie top.   
I also have a tutorial for the gabardine flat front skirt. It can be recreated in any size with a variety of fabrics. 

Let’s start with the shirt. 

DIY nautical shirt tutorial 


  • a men’s shirt with no front pockets and wide enough to cut smaller shirt and strips for neck tie. 
  • a shirt to use as a pattern, pick one without a separate sleeve. 
  • bias tape
  • matching thread
Step 1: cut out shirt
I turned my shirt inside out centered it over the buttons. Because the final shirt won’t stretch like the t-shirt I added a couple inches to the sides as I cut it out.
Step 2: cut neck line
After cutting, I separated my front piece from the back, folded it in half and cut a lower neck line. 

Step 3: sew shoulders 

Pin front and back right sides together at the shoulders. Sew and finish edges. 
Step 4: pin and sew biased tape around arm holes
Because my fabric had some good stretch to it I was able to make my own biased tape with scraps of the shirt. If you use a traditional cotton shirt you will want to buy or make matching biased tape with another piece of fabric. 
Step 5: sew up the sides
Pin, sew and finish the edges. 
Step 6: make neck tie
Going back to my shirt, I cut 4 strips of fabric 1-3/4″ wide. I cut them as long as the shirt would allow.  I sewed ends of the strips together to make two really long strips. Then I sewed the two long strips right sides together all the way around leaving a small gap, which I used to turn the tube right side out. Once turned, I ironed and topstitch the tie. 
Step 7: finish and fold under neck edges. 
I serged my neck edges and ironed them under. If you don’t have a serger you may want to do a double fold. 
Step 8: pin a sew on tie. 
Lining up the center of the tie and the center of the back, I pinned the tie around the neck.  Leave an opening in the front about 2″ from the edge, so you’ll have room to tie a knot. Stitch around the neck, overlapping the top stitch on tie.  
Step 9: top stitch opening in front. 
Secure the folded neckline in the front by topstitching as close to the tie as possible. 
Step 10: Hem bottom and you are done.

Easy Flat Front Skirt IMG_1222 


- 1-2 yards fabric depending on size
- 1″ elastic band
- matching thread
- four buttons
Step 1: cut skirt pieces
The length and width of these pieces will depend on the size of your child. I will tell you how I did it based on the size of my child who has a 24″ waist.

Here is what I cut for a 24″ waist:
2 – 4″x 12″ strips (12″ is half of 24″)
2 – 4″ x 15″ strips ( 12″+3″ for room to stretch)
2- 13″ x 24″ (13″ was how long I wanted the main skirt and 24″ will give me a good gather)
1- 10″ piece of elastic (12″-2″)

Step 2: sew 4″X 12″ and 4″ x 15″ strips together  IMG_1161  Match up the same sized strips and sew right sides together across the top. After sewing a seam across the  4″X 15″ strips, you’ll sew the elastic band onto one of the stripes just below the seam.

It will look like this.
Sew it to only one of the pieces do not sew through both or you won’t be able to turn it right side out.
Step 3: Press seams open. 
These will be the front and back of your skirts waist band. The elastic piece will go in the back.
Step 4: sew front and back panels together
With panels still open pin front to back right sides together and sew up the sides. You will have a tube when you are done. Step 5: Topstitch waistband 
Fold the waistband in half right sides out and topstitch the top and then over the waistband securing it in place. Step 6: Sew skirt sides and gather.
grab your larger skirt pieces and sew the ends right sides together. Gather the top to the size of your waist band. Step 7: attach the skirt to the waistband. 
pin and sew skirt to waistband matching up sides.
Step 8: finishing details
Topstitch gather to waistband and add buttons. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I left anything out. 


  1. says

    This is so cute! Wishing I had a girl! Thanks for sharing! I’d like to feature this on my blog tomorrow. You can stop by and grab a button if you’d like.
    Scissors & Spatulas

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