Celestial Dress DIY


Oh this is a fun project!  My dress was prompted by the perfect timing of day one of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge and several remarkable glitter craft paints I received from Martha Stewart Crafts in conjunction with Michaels Craft Month. I constructed a cap sleeve t-shirt dress on a simple neutral-toned cotton jersey and casually placed glittery circles of varying degrees of visual density using Martha’s foam pouncers to apply the paint. The effect of the very dense Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Glitter Craft Paint (Obsidian tone) was dazzling. Before the paint was dry, my daughter declared this her most favorite thing in the world and asked for several more just like it.

So if I may I walk you through my self-drafted cap-sleeved Celestial T-Shirt Dress DIY…

To create a similar dress: gather a yard or so of cotton Jersey (less if you’re making something smaller than would fit a five year old girl), a favorite well-sized t-shirt to use for your pattern base, parchment or tracing paper, general sewing bits and bobs as well as Martha Stewart’s multi-surface glitter craft paint and pouncers to add the sparkle.   Due to the stretchy nature of knit no closure methods are required to finish the project.

A proper pattern design for this dress is in the works. I’d love to hear from you, would you buy it?

Notes: if you are new to sewing, you should feel comfortable drafting (tracing) your own pattern from an existing top or dress. If you are not ready to do that you might create a similar look by modifying and lengthening readily available patterns, Flashback Skinny Tee from Made-by Rae or the Banyan Top from Figgy’s.


  • 1/2 to 1 yard cotton jersey (I like Alabama Chanin’s organic cotton)
  • thread, sewing pins, jersey ball point needle for the sewing machine
  • tracing paper and a Sharpie to trace an existing T-shirt
  • hand sewing needle, embroidery floss or Coats and Clark button thread for hand-stitching details and neckline
  • Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Glitter Acrylic Craft Paint – Obsidian, available at Michael’s (50% off coupon below)
  • Martha Stewart Foam Pouncers – largest size is recommended
  • Optional: An Alabama Chanin book to refer to embroidery stitches
Note: half inch seam allowance; stretchy zigzag stitch
  1. Turn a well-loved flattering T-shirt inside out and trace the front (pattern piece 1) and back (pattern piece 2) sides of the shirt at the edges of the interior seam allowances. Add about 3/8″ to each of the seam allowances to give some room to grow/shrink. If your tee-shirt does not have a cap sleeve, you can create one (pattern piece 3) by narrowing the lower portion of the sleeve toward the armpit region. Do not add seam allowance to the outer edge of the cap sleeve, you will leave this area raw. Fold the pattern piece in half to make sure the lines are similar and symmetrical. Smooth out rough edges and confirm that the front and back pieces line up. 
  2. Cut out front, back, two sleeves and a 1.33″ wide x 18″ long neckband pieces. 
  3. Determine a high natural waist point and trim the lower portion of the front and back shirt pieces to half an inch longer than that measurement (using an existing dress as a visual aid will help you create a flattering garment). Cut a 44″ wide skirt panel measuring the distance between wearers waist and where you would like the skirt to hit. No hem will be sewn at the bottom, but you should have half an inch seam allowance at the waist. *44″ wide will allow for big pleating, if you don’t think you’ll like so much pleating you can cut a much more narrow skirt panel, even a simple a-line skirt would be fantastic. (Skip ahead to step 13 if you would like to pre-paint the dress prior to sewing, air dry prior to sewing and pick up at step 4 later.)
  4. With shirt fabric right sides together, sew shoulder seams. 
  5. Sew cap sleeves- right sides together – to the right side of the material, push seam allowances away from sleeve and toward the body of the shirt, you will hand sew this flat (felled) seam later. 
  6. Sew the two side-seams of the shirt and leave the lower edge raw.
  7. With right sides together sew a tube from the skirt panel. Push seam allowance to one side. 
  8. Mark midpoint on front, and quarter points both sides of the tube (the back mid-point is marked by seam allowance) with pins or chalk.
  9. Turn the t-shirt right side out. Mark the midpoint on the front and back of the shirt with a straight pin or chalk.
  10.  Turn the tube right side out and lie flat with the rear seam centered below, place just under the t-shirt top so you can visually consider where the pleats will hit. Begin making the pleating by folding toward the center. My four front pleats are folded toward the middle of the skirt, but with about 3-4 inches of no pleating in the center front. Use the side pins (or chalk marks) to visually aid the alignment of top bodice to skirt. Flip pieces over and create the back pleats – pin all pleats to secure.
  11. At the top of the skirt, sew each pleat in place with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
  12. Then turn the skirt right side out and secure the skirt top to the shirt bottom with pins. Sew in place.
  13. Fold the neckband in half, wrong sides together, starting at the center back neck pin to the dress neckline and overlap by an inch. Sew with an elastic embroidery stitch, I used a parallel whipstitch.
  14. Hand embroider or use a simple running stitch to flatten the seam allowance and add visual interest to the piece, I used a simple running stitch at the waistband and down the rear skirt seam as well as at the sleeves to secure the seam allowances flat.
  15. Finally, the fun part (unless you skipped ahead). Embellish the dress with Martha Stewarts amazing permanent all-surface craft paint, use the Foam Pouncers to create perfect circles. It may be easier to do the front – allow the dress to dry and then do the back side. Be sure to clean up before the paint dries. I found stray glitter bits will wipe away with a wet paper towel, even when dry. I’d let the dress cure for a day or two before washing.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at 12:16 am and is filed under Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “Celestial Dress DIY”

  1. Couldn’t Resist says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 12:47 am

    [...] Celestial Dress is a DIY that I made up with some terrific multi-surface craft paint from Martha Stewart (yes, [...]

  2. erin says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 11:44 am

    laura!!! you are knocking out of the park this week. i’d like to copy this for kate…i think i could use an alabama chanin size xs and it would work. inspiring!!!

  3. SabineC says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    This ress looks stellar indeed!
    I’d love a pattern… so that’s a “yes” to buying it!

  4. Erin says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I love this- thanks for the tute… I may actually try this one! Well done :)

  5. Lucinda says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Simply stunning. Love, love, love it. I can see why it’s your daughter’s favorite dress!

  6. Tutorial: Girl’s glittered polka dot Celestial Dress · Sewing | CraftGossip.com says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    [...] Laura from Charm Stitch shows how she made the Celestial Dress for her daughter.  With large glittery silver polka dots on a gray knit, it draws from the latest fashion trends.  Go to her blog for the tutorial. [...]

  7. Ericka says:

    October 11th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Love it!

  8. Laura says:

    October 12th, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Absolutely gorgeous. I am dying to try that paint on a holiday dress for myself.

  9. Vaughn Quince says:

    October 20th, 2012 at 3:46 am

    I would buy this pattern in a heart beat. My granddaughter would love this dress!!!

  10. The Collar Project: a Beaded Glittery Flannel Number says:

    December 12th, 2012 at 7:11 am

    [...] paints from Martha Stewart’s new line of paints applied with a pouncer (see our recent dress for a tutorial). I would love to see it made it in Jersey with raw edges and top stitching. [...]