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Toddler Dress from Man’s Shirt

mans shirt with toddler pattern for cutting
This colorful checked shirt will make a memory keepsake for a special little girl.

A Friend’s Request

A few weeks ago, one of my local Facebook friends contacted me about taking on a different kind of sewing project for her. She wanted me to sew a toddler dress from a man’s dress shirt. This particular friend and her husband are foster parents and will soon be adding another child to their family by adoption. They also recently lost a family member–the husband’s father passed away last fall. It was their desire to honor his father’s memory by having their new daughter wear a dress made from one of her grandpa’s dress shirts.

This is where I come in. In the words of my friend, I happen to be her “most expert sewing person”. She wanted me to make her daughter-to-be a simple jumper using a man’s dress shirt. I agreed to accept the commission. A toddler dress from a shirt was a totally different concept from the usual memory pillows that I make.

Choosing a Toddler Dress Pattern and a Man’s Dress Shirt

My friend was interested in a simple design and wasn’t set on any certain style. That was music to my ears! We quickly agreed on a Simplicity Easy-to-Sew pattern that I just happened to have in my stash of uncut patterns.

I was delighted when I saw the shirt that they chose for the jumper. The rainbow of colors and check/stripe design are perfect for a little girl’s dress. The pattern pieces for a size 1 dress fit easily on the XL man’s shirt. I used the front of the shirt for the front of the dress and opted to leave the shirt pocket intact as part of the design. The sleeves provided enough fabric to cut bias binding to use for the armhole facings.

The pattern was a relatively quick sew, though it did take me a little longer than I anticipated. Turns out that I’m a little rusty when it comes to making toddler dresses.

The Finished Memory Dress

toddler girls dress back view

I love the way this little toddler dress from a man’s dress shirt turned out! The only change I made to the pattern is the back closure. The pattern called for a button and an elastic loop. I’m not a fan of that type of closure since the elastic loops will often fray or break. Instead, I added a small tab and stabilized it with interfacing so that I could attach a plastic snap. This was the perfect opportunity for me to use one of my fancy snaps that I’ve gotten free with my snap orders from KAM snaps.

snap closure on back of toddler dress

Welcome to Your New Family, Baby Girl!

I applaud my friend and her family for making room in their lives and in their home for their newest foster daughter. She is most fortunate to be finding her forever family with this couple and their other children. I wish them nothing but the richest blessings and happiness!

I pray that having their new daughter come into their family dressed in one of her new grandpa’s shirts will help them to feel that he is there with them in spirit on this special day. May this little dress be a reminder to all of them of their missing loved one and the special place he holds in their hearts and in their family.

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Too Soon to Say Good-bye

Chad on his Harley motorcycle


Chad on his Harley motorcycleThese past six weeks have been difficult ones for my family.  On September 16th, my thirty-six year old nephew died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, plunging our family into sadness like we’ve never known before.

Chad leaves behind his parents, a nine-year-old daughter, a six-year-old son, a sister, two nieces, and a lot of other family members and friends who will never stop missing him.  Our family has experienced loss before, but this time, it’s different.  And it’s different because Chad was what we all consider to be too young to die.  It was just too soon to say good-bye.

I know that life doesn’t come with guarantees, and young people die everyday.  Just the same, I fully expected Chad to be around at least another thirty-six years.  I wanted thirty-six more years of his goofy grins, his funny stories, his presence in our lives and at our family functions.
Chad with his mom and his kids

We all expected Chad to be here to enjoy hunting season with his father and his son, to take one more beach vacation with the whole family in tow, to teach his kids to drive, to help his sister choose his parents’ nursing home, and to walk his daughter down the aisle.  And so we grieve.  We grieve for missed opportunities.  We cry for all those things that might have been, but now will never be.

Our only comfort is in knowing that it is God in his sovereign wisdom who numbers our days. It is God who gave us thirty-six years to know Chad and to love him.  Why only thirty-six years?  I don’t know.  But I know the One who knows the reason why, and I trust Him.

These past six weeks have been dark ones, especially for Chad’s immediate family.  I don’t exactly know what it must be like to pick up the pieces of your life after the death of your son, your brother, or your daddy.  It’s heartbreaking to see their pain and to know that my own pain is just a shadow of theirs.

I’d like to tell Chad that I was proud of him.  He was a hard worker, a great guy, an awesome dad!  It’s too soon to say good-bye, so I’ll just say, “See you later!”Good-bye Chad