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Treating T-shirts Like Fabric

April 7, 2013

I think I've mentioned before here on the blog that my t-shirt collection is fairly epic. A friend asked me recently how many t-shirts I own, and I had to admit that I don't really know ... but I do know it's in the triple digits. Race shirts, work events, souvenir purchases, promotional giveaways -- t-shirts are  a huge part of our cultural language. But not all t-shirts are flattering, and even if I'd like to wear them, it's not all that fun if I feel like a boxy blob.

The good news is: T-shirts are made of FABRIC! I know, I know, that's not really any sort of revelation. But it seems pretty rare that we really treat them as fabric. They get made over in various ways, but I we don't often use a pattern to cut another garment out of a t-shirt. It has become one of my favorite ways to handle the dilemma of unflattering shirt overload, so I thought I'd share a couple of new makeovers.

First up, I started with Simplicity 1808:

1-tshirts-fabric.jpgI cut a 2XL t-shirt from one of our favorite pizza places completely open along the sides, and folded it in half lengthwise:

2-tshirts-fabric.jpgThen, I just laid out my pattern pieces on it, just as if it was regular fabric. And then I just assembled it according to the pattern directions.

3-tshirts-fabric.jpgI cut the neckline and facing pieces from the remnants, and JUST managed to eke out all my pieces from the same shirt. When using t-shirts this way, you may find that you need to supplement with other fabrics for some elements. You also have to be a little flexible -- as you can see in the photo of the finished shirt below, the original shirt's shoulder seams had to be included in my main shirt cut. This shirt doesn't have set-in sleeves, so the seam you see there is from the shirt as I originally received it.

4-tshirts-fabric.jpgAnother way I like to remake shirts is to combine them with other fabrics. My next example started with McCall's 6435 and a bit of striped knit that I had leftover from a previous project.

5-tshirts-fabric.jpgJust like with my first shirt, I cut open my original t-shirt and cut and assembled it according to pattern instructions. And now my blocky shirt has a more flattering cut -- which means I'll enjoy wearing it a whole lot more!

6-tshirts-fabric.jpgDo you have some shirts languishing in your closet and some fun knit top patterns that they might match up with? I bet you do. Just think of the possibilities, and get ready to expand your wardrobe!

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Did you use a serger? Or did you use a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine? I'm definitely going to reconstruct some of my 'not so feminine' t-shirts. Thanks so much for sharing this method (and the pattern numbers!) with us.

Hi! For these particular projects, I just used my regular machine with a stretch stitch, but I have used my serger on similar projects before. Both work fine -- just depends on your preference (or, in my case, if I'm too lazy to make sure the serger has matching thread)! -H

I am having trouble getting the whole sleeve corner on the tee shirt in the size 16. Any suggestions? Simplicity 1808

Hi, Judy!

I had the same problem just last night! My solution was to alter the pattern a bit. I cut it just as far as I could according to the pattern, and then I drew a line from the furthest point the fabric could reach back to the interior neckline of the shoulder seam, joining up with pattern's original cut line as smoothly as I could. As long as the edge where the bodice joins the yoke is still in place, the sleeve and shoulder on this one offer some wiggle room since that area on the garment is cut roomy. I also fudged my seam allowance down to 1/4 inch for that part to make it all fit. Hope that helps!


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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on April 7, 2013 6:44 PM.

T-shirt Recycle: Baby Short-alls was the previous entry in this blog.

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