Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turn your wet t-shirt into your church shirt!

We all have those old t-shirts we just can't seem to part with, despite the fact that they are riddled with puke stains and smell like your cat's BO. But there's just something about them, right? Or maybe your husband has an abundance of t-shirts that fit him like a onesie on a teenager but he just can't bring himself to donate them to the Army that is our Salvation. Any way you ended up with them, there is finally something you can do with them that requires very little skill and sewing so even a dope like you has a shot! And to prove it, a dope like me will demonstrate!
This is outside my comfort level, despite how basic it seems, because there's no pattern. For me, using patterns means having all the vital parts of a garment included, like armholes and an opening for your head. But since we're just adding onto a t-shirt that already fits, I'll give it a shot. I had originally seen this idea on a blog months ago and I was amazed at the time and thought, "Hey, I should totally make that", then of course I completely forgot about it two minutes later. Luckily, my pea brain retained that thought somewhere because yesterday, when I felt like I needed to sew something quick and easy, that thought somehow floated to the top of my brain pond and I scooped it right up.

Oh, and in case I forget to mention it later, the great part about working with t-shirt material is that it doesn't fray and therefore you don't have to hem the cut edges. That alone saves you a ton of tedious work so get cracking on this project!
I found this blog that had a bunch of links to other blogs that give you a ton of different ideas for upcycling t-shirts:

And ladies, your eyes are not failing- there IS a link to make your own maxi pads! Finally! Your days of using old rags and tube socks are over- you can finally follow a pattern to make super cute reusable pads! Holy crap, I think I barfed in my mouth just typing that. That started out as a joke but I think I grossed myself out. But that blog has a lot of other links that could give you inspiration.

My personal favorite, and the one that I found months ago, is this site:

How pretty is this shirt? And when you read her blog, you'll see she used 2 t-shirts that she bought for a dollar each and came up with this. Let your jealousy course through you now and get it over with. You'll be addicted to this blog and the things she makes. I'm a little nervous about giving you the link because it makes my blog look like monkey poop. Come back, okay?

Step 1: Identify which crappy t-shirts you don't mind sacrificing to the sewing gods. Here's my plethora of crappiness I have to choose from:

You like the gratuitous picture of the cat licking himself? I thought so. Skipper is so classy like his mama.

I decided to use the dark green shirt that I got from Old Navy for $5 about 3 years ago. Bobby refers to this shirt as "that shirt you wear all the time that you think looks good".

Needless to say, I will use Bobby's shirts as needed. Maybe for those maxi-pads. Anyway, I like the fit of this shirt but it's a little too low cut in the front and honestly, it looks like a $5 shirt. So I don't have anything to lose here.

Step 2: For the accent ruffles, I am going to use this old black shirt I got from Target a long time ago. I know the example shows ruffles made from the same color t-shirt but tough crap. This is whats I gots. For your shirt, try to pick one without so much cat hair.

And I wonder where it comes from.

I start by cutting the bottom band off the black shirt and then cutting the rest of the shirt into strips.

I'm going to be doing my ruffles a little differently than the example so instead of doing my loose stitch at the top of each strip to create the ruffle, I do it right down the middle. Then I gather the fabric until the ruffle looks the way I want it to look and I lay it around the neckline of the shirt. 

The first thing I realize when making these ruffles is that they tend to get all twisted up. I tried straightening them out but I like some of the twist so I leave a few in as I pin it to the shirt to give it some texture. 
I really want my ruffle to go all the way around the neckline and past it a little so I sew 2 strips together to make one extra long ruffle. I'm planning on doing a zig-zag pattern down the front of the shirt.

I make another double ruffle and sew it around the other half of the neckline and cross it over the first ruffle and zig-zag it back so now I have kind of a diamond shape on the front of the shirt. Now I need to fill it in with more ruffles. 

By the way, after I pinned this on to see how it all looked, I had to unpin it and sew on one ruffle at a time.
I start with the next ruffle on the left side and have it go down and pivot so it crosses over the diamond and over to the other side. The little bit of a tail left over get crossed back to make the last of the pattern.
I do the same with the last ruffle. I really like the look so far but there's a small empty spot in the middle.

I make a short ruffle and sew that on.

I'm not crazy about the cuffs on the shirt- it's kind of a weird arm length so off with the cuffs!
I cut the band I cut off from the bottom of the black shirt in half lengthwise, make 2 more ruffles, and sew them to the cuffs. The ruffles aren't really an even width all the way around so I trim them up to even them out. This makes me really nervous, like when you try to cut your own bangs. Because it always seems like no matter how hard I try, I cut them too short and I'm afraid of over-cutting these ruffles.

But somehow they come out okay so I leave well enough alone and try on the shirt. I like it but I spend a few minutes sewing the ruffles in little spots to hold them in place and the neckline is still too low to wear without a tank top. And I don't want to have to wear a tank top. So I take the cuffs from the green shirt and make them into a fatter ruffle and tuck it into the neckline. I'm not super crazy about this part but it covers up enough so that you can't see my bra so I'm happy. And here is the finished product!

I have to tell you that this looks better in person than in the pictures.

Overall, this project took maybe a few hours. And the nice part was that it was fun to figure out the pattern of the ruffles and just do whatever I wanted. The colours came out better than I had thought they would so I am definetly going to try this with a few other t-shirts. If you have a t-shirt upcycling project that you've done, send me a picture and description and I'll post it up here. Have fun with this one!

By the way, if you're coming to my house for the "Let's Get Sew Drunk" party, I think this might be the project so bring some old t-shirts- and a bottle of wine or I won't let you in- and in Abby's words, "It's on like Donkey Kong." Later, bitches!


abbyI W said...

I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!!!!!!!!

Country Mouse said...

oh man, you're hot!

mary yates said...

i think it's pretty sweet, but if you have all those ruffles how is everyone suposed to see your nipples through the shirt when you're at the wet t-shirt contest!

Crystal Malay said...

I too have been inspired by Sachiko at Tea Rose. Just made a pile of lame t-shirts to do this to yesterday! I was wondering how two different colors would look. I now cease to wonder. I love it.

Debbie said...

Bobby told me to comment on your blog......What a great idea! Very creative! I love to sew too.....check out my website:

GBR1980 said...

Very adorable shirt! So glad Jenn told me about your blog!!

Kelly said...

How cool (and green!) is this? Kudos! I have so many old shirts - the possibilities are endless!

Anna said...

Crystal- if you have any pictures of your t-shirts, I'd love to post them! If you have a blog, feel free to post a link to it here. Thanks everyone for reading! I'd love to see what everyone else is making so please feel free to post updates to your blogs/websites whenever you have something new.

Simon said...

Are you looking for some custom design clothing to buy? If so, then you definitely came to the right place.Design your own mens t shirts with t shirt designer from monogram group Ltd.

blacktricks said...

Oh so creativ..