Hot! The “Black & Blue” Dress

The Facts

  • Fabric: two Old Navy t-shirts that are way too big on me
  • Pattern: none
  • Year: 2012
  • Notions: thread (stash)
  • First worn: September 28, 2012
  • Wear again?: It’s a little young for me, but…
  • Total price: $0

Before we get to the dress, here’s the soundtrack. And it will all make sense at the end.

I’ve been hanging on to these t-shirts for some time even though they’ve been too big on me for over a year. I sleep in them or exercise in them occasionally, when nothing else is clean. And I love the shade of blue of the one. But, alas, because they are too big they make me look ultra frumpy, and the blue one finally got some underarm stains on it. Yuck. But have they outlived their usefulness? Their fashionableness? NO!

Wielding my shining sword scissors I hacked them up and sewed the parts back together in no time (1 1/2 hours start to finish on Tuesday). And now I have a very form-fitting color block dress that seems maybe just a bit too trendy for me.

I left the seams on the outside for a sense of dimension (and to draw the eye away from areas of my body that aren’t perfectly smooth). I can see this as a good Halloween party dress with some spiderweb tights, can’t you? But since I wouldn’t wear it to work or church, I guess the only time it will see the light of day will be on date nights. And that’s good enough for me. After all, it’s not like it’s taking up any more room than the two t-shirts did. :)

BTW, I totally want to open a coffee bar and blues music club called Black & Blue now. Get the connection with the song? “The Blues are Brewin’.”  Oh, and before any of you mentions it in the comments, I know I should have made the left sleeve blue, but remember: pit stains.


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


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  1. *High five* to the upcycled dresses!! I almost did panels like yours but decided to go for straight in the end, now I need to try one like this : ) I think you should wear it to work, it looks GREAT on you. You will definitley turn heads on date night!

    • Not sure about work (I work at a fairly conservative place and the dress is pretty form fitting) but I will be wearing it tonight!

      • I’m agreeing with Loran on this one– if you think it’s a bit snug for work (which it doesn’t seem from the photos, but only you can judge) throw a cardigan over it and you’ll be good to go. It’s terrific, and it really looks great on you. Too good to hang in the closet.

  2. Brilliant in conception and execution. Left sleeve as black works well, giving some edge to the design. Should be worn frequently.

  3. Is it really that snug? It looks wonderful on you. I think you should wear it to work at least. The style doesn’t look too young on you and the sleeves are perfect. There-

  4. OK, you and Loran have convinced me to dig into my big pile of hubby’s cast off Ts and sweaters. You’re both skewing the curve with your beautiful rags-to-riches creations this week!

  5. Crazy cool Erin, how does this look too young for you? I think it looks great. I like how it guides the eye down it’s very flattering on you.

  6. It is not too young for you! It is so awesome! Please say you will wear this again! Cant believe it was made form 2 tshirts! you are a genious!

  7. Fabulous! Brilliant idea, and it looks wonderful on you – I hope you wear it again!

  8. Looks great!! The colors and style fit you to a T (ba-dum-bump!). :^) How did you line up the ‘cut’ lines so they’d match when sewn (stack the shirts or randomly wing it)?

    • I did stack them, so the back is essentially a mirror image of the front. And I think the reason it all worked so well is that I bought the shirts at the same time and they are the exact same shirt, same weight, same weave.

  9. Love it. Don’t be too shy to wear it!

  10. You look awesome! You should wear it fiercly.

    I have two tee shirts that I don’t want to give up either, even though they don’t flatter me at all. I want to give this a try. Did you use a serger?

    • I do not have a serger. I did this on a regular machine with a straight stitch and not too much pressure from the presser foot, being careful not to stretch things out. I left raw seams on the outside for a funkier look. I think anyone could do this.

  11. Awesome Erin! I want to try that. I think you should wear it. It’s very flattering!

  12. Fantastic! And if you really can’t wear it to work or church then your DH is going to have to take you on a LOT of date nights, because this deserves to be seen!

  13. Erin mate, stop with the ‘too trendy’ – you look flipping stunning in that dress….that demands to be worn out till it’s worn out!