T-Shirt Tepee and Dress

3 years ago by in clothing, crafts, DIY, fabric


The adorable folks over at Cricut had this brilliant idea to send bloggers a bunch of plain white t-shirts and some iron on materials, and basically said, “Make something awesome.”

Um, yeah. I want in on that.

So I asked for ten t-shirts (the max I was allowed to use) without any idea of what I was going to make.


The shirts stared at me for three weeks until one day Lily asked me to make her a tepee and costume.

Now, I know how to turn on a sewing machine, but sewing clothing is waaay out of my league. So if you want to make this costume yourself, be excited becuase there is actually very little sewing. I will try my best below to show how I made it, and be sure to keep scrolling down to the bottom to see what I made with the other NINE t-shirts.

Lily is 4 1/2, and the t-shirt size is a mens medium.

First, I cut four inch tall strips at the bottom of the t-shirt. I cut a strip about every 1/3 inch.


After cutting the entire width of the shirt, I knotted each strip.


I did not measure precisely, and I was not concerned that the knots should all match up perfectly either. Remember, I had a four year old sitting by my side eagerly waiting for this to be made.

Next, I cut the sleeves at an angle so they would also have about four inches of length to them.


Then, I cut strips and knotted them just like the bottom of the shirt.


Next, I cut both rectangles and triangles out with my Cricut and their new iron-on material. With the rectangles I created a chevron pattern at the bottom of the shirt.


With the triangles I created a pattern at the top. (The material is really easy to iron-on. I have washed this several times since making it, and it stays beautiful.)


The only actual sewing I did was adding two strips of fabric to the sides so that the shirt could be tied in the back. A mens t-shirt is very wide, so this allowed for the dress to have a more fitted look.

When I was done making the dress, Lily and I went hunting at a local park for lots of stick to make a bow and several arrows.

I know, I am seriously going for mother of the year with this one.


With the remaining nine shirts, I cut them all up and made a matching tepee. Yes, I made a t-shirt tepee.

I am not including instructions for the tepee, because chances are you are not going to make a tepee out of t-shirts, but I will post a few of the steps tomorrow along with some extra photos that are freaking adorable.


And here is miss Lily trying it out:

handmadetepee01 handmadetepee02 handmadetepee03 handmadetepee04 handmadetepee05 handmadetepee06 handmadetepee07


handmadetepee08 handmadetepee10 handmadetepee11

As for being a cool mom, I am pretty sure I will never top this.

(See PART 2 with more photos HERE.)

Thanks Cricut for allowing me to participate and sending me the materials to make this project! If you want to learn more about Cricut’s new iron-on vinyl you can view the vinyl HERE, or purchase it in a Cricut machine and toolkit bundle HERE.

21 Responses to “T-Shirt Tepee and Dress”

Holly small
April 24, 2013 Reply

Wow! This is so creative and perfect! I’m in love with your style!!!!!

Janalyn H.
April 24, 2013 Reply

Wow, that was amazing! I think you are the mom of the year. Your creativity kills me…

April 24, 2013 Reply

I want to be loved forever…therefore I will pin. P.S. It’s also quite worth pinning.

April 25, 2013 Reply

This is the best, and totally something I can do! I have to know how you made that teepee though! I am sharing on my FB!

T-Shirt Tepee {part 2}
April 25, 2013 Reply

[…] thank you for sharing and commenting on my t-shirt dress and tepee project from yesterday! It means the world to me that you liked […]

April 27, 2013 Reply

Seriously amazing and adorable! Good job!

April 29, 2013 Reply

This DIY post is extremely offensive to me. I am Native American and I am a real human being not some costume. We are all people and you making these things for your child and teaching her that we are savages that never leave our tipi without our bow and arrow is wrong. Instead learn about how now terrible conditions are on our reservations, how little food our children have, how we have poor health and substance abuse, violence, and poverty issues. How most of us live in third world conditions with no hope. Showing this stereotypical racist image of us that was never true in the first place is offensive to us and is setting your child up to continue on this racist path.
Check out http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/ for more information about cultural appropriation.

Natalie Wright
April 29, 2013 Reply

Hi Chloe,
Thank you so much for your comment. I actually really appreciate you bringing up this issue, and want to reassure you that in our home we do not view Native Americans in that sense. I do not teach my daughter that Native Americans are savages and I’ve never thought of a bow and arrow as an icon of evil, but instead have always thought of how it was used as a tool for hunting and feeding a family.

My youngest daughter (pictured above) has an increased fascination with Native Americans, hence the reason I made her the outfit above. The reason for this fascination is due to the fact that we are heavily associated with the Circle of Love foundation based out of Utah. Every year the organization travels to the Havasupai tribe in Arizona in November to bring the children living in school dorms Christmas much needed blankets and hygiene necessities. Our involvement means that we very often talk with our kids about the Native American culture, and how we can strive for equality among all people and races. By making this outfit I felt I was encouraging her awareness and curiosity to learn about others.

According to this post on Wikipedia many would not consider the content of this post racist, while admittedly others would. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism. I tend to be on the side of thinking racism is an intent to discriminate against a group of people, of which it was never my intent. My project was created to make a little girl happy, not to teach her to feel ill toward the Native American culture.

We are a very liberal family, and I offer my sincerest apologies again if I have offended you. If you wan to learn more about the Circle of Love organization I would love to email you. Perhaps you could even offer advice to the founders, who are always looking for more ways to improve and serve! Thanks again for your comment Chloe, it is important to stand up for your heritage and beliefs and I admire your courage to do so.

Valerie lee
November 10, 2013 Reply

I read your comment about the child’s Indian COSTUME. I, too, have Indian blood in me. But I am Honored that a child loves my heritage and wants to be an Indian! Every race has poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and other problems in our society. It’s when you blame others for your obstacles, that’s the real issue. You have to be a Real Warrior and rise above your circumstances. When children pretend to be Drug dealers, Pimps, drug addicts, etc. when you Should be upset!!

April 29, 2013 Reply

Also racism isn’t only discrimination.
Prejudice is an irrational feeling of dislike for a person or group of persons, usually based on stereotype. Virtually everyone feels some sort of prejudice, whether it’s for an ethnic group, or for a religious group, or for a type of person like blondes or fat people or tall people. The important thing is they just don’t like them — in short, prejudice is a feeling, a belief. You can be prejudiced, but still be a fair person if you’re careful not to act on your irrational dislike.

Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice. This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation. Or even because of their looks (there’s a lot of hiring discrimination against “unattractive” women, for example). You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you’re in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against. White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people if, for example, one is the interviewer and the other is the person being interviewed.

Racism, however, describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as “normal” throughout an entire culture. It’s based on an ideological belief that one “race” is somehow better than another “race”. It’s not one person discriminating at this point, but a whole population operating in a social structure that actually makes it difficult for a person not to discriminate.

April 29, 2013 Reply

um I think a Native American person does not need to look at Wikipedia to know what Racism means- they’ve been dealing with it all their lives. But if you’re so intent on research, look up Cultural Appropriation. Look up cultural imperialism.

The thing is, you’ve taken some glitter and some fabric and have fashioned an imaginary idea of “Native American.” None of it is real. The fact that you feel this culture is available for such corruption and projection is racist. It is no different from the “Aztec” and “Navajo” prints that have become so popular. May I remind you that the Navajo people have taken this issue to court because they didn’t want their name on an object for white people to consume? Why do you think they would do that? Because it is wrong.

Being a liberal does not exempt you from racism. If you were truly respectful, and truly appreciative, teach your children about what really happens. How and why dreamcatchers and “teepees” have turned into cultural knickknacks for white people like you to consume and parade around as if you’re so enlightened. Teach your children about real Native people, who still exist. Teach them that Pocahontas was 9 years old, and that John Smith made up everything. Teach them the truth. Teach them to respect voice of Native people. Because if you do ignore them, quote limited dictionary definitions of racism at them, parade them around in bastardized, fictional representations of Native culture, than congratulations. You’ve made racist children.

May 10, 2013 Reply

If a child playing with a teepee is considered racist, what else is racist and needs to be removed from children’s playrooms? Mario bros games? They could be seen as an Italian stereotype. Sumo wrestling dolls? Could be a Japanese stereotype. China dolls? Not all Chinese women are beautiful and wear traditional clothing. Stereotype.
Why stop there. Maybe a ban needs to be enforced on anyone wanting to build a rammed earth adobe on their property. That could be seen as a nasty stereotype of the people indigenous to Spain, Africa, central south and North America.
The wearing of flip flops will also have to be banned as not all descendants of ancient Egyptians wear them or Japanese so that’s a stereotype we don’t want to enforce.
Kimonos worn as dressing gowns? Forget it!
You want to eat a pretzel and a bagel. What are you saying? That Jews only eat traditional baked goods.
You want to throw a boomerang at a park? No way! You know that Australian Aboriginals don’t just throw boomerangs for hunting, right? They have jobs and but food at a supermarket too.
You want to get a tattoo? Well I’m sorry but that is highly offensive to the people of Polynesia whose descendants invented tattooing, so back off.

May 11, 2013 Reply

Anne: you went off on a rant because someone told you something someone (maybe you, at some point) is doing is offensive and hurtful and ran with it to the classic internet argument of, “BUT WHERE DOES IT END?!!1″ as though that is a somehow valid fear to possess. To clarify the situation for you, the point here is that a group of marginalized people have specifically requested that false and hurtful images of their race stop being used as playthings and imaginary games because it damages the real-life lives they lead. This kind of costume is something called redface – you can read about it here http://this-is-not-native.tumblr.com/resources // It’s a great page with lots of links as to how and why this kind of “play” is hurtful and harmful.

Hope it helps you to understand.
– J.

May 11, 2013 Reply

Jessica: I think you mistook my reply as sarcasm when in fact I am 100% converted to the cause.
I’ve started identifying potentially racist material with random searches for words like teepee and moccasin and then just started trolling them! Who knew a witch hunt could be so much fun! Unfortunately we aren’t armed with actual weapons, just our smug intellectual superiority. But hopefully once we’ve pointed out enough unintended racism like 4 year olds playing in teepees we can really take on the world. I’m thinking a Find Kony style campaign to bring down tattoo parlours for being racist against the Polynesians (who invented tattoos). I’ve started by spray painting the words racist across the front of two local shop windows. Next up is my local karaoke bar. Those racist pigs!

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September 30, 2014 Reply

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Desiree Hacker
March 21, 2016 Reply

If the little girl wants to be a native American . Then praise God.she obviously thinks highly of them.

April 5, 2016 Reply

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