Friday, July 23, 2010

T-shirt Reconstruction!

I've been posting pictures of my creations on my facebook, and I had such a huge response from a few recent pictures of my T-shirt re-designs I thought I'd go ahead and give you guys a tutorial!

Okay first things first. There are a few ways to do this T-shirt reconstruction.
A. Buy two T-shirts, one to wear the other to cut up and use as decoration
B. Buy a T-shirt that is 3-4 sizes bigger - ie: you wear a small, buy an XL
C. Dig in your closet for an old (but in good condition) t-shirt you don't wear, that is too big. 
D. Steal a T-shirt from your Hubby, boyfriend, brother, sister, mom or dad that is too big for you!! 

Either way works fine! 

Here are a few of my completed projects:

This White Anthropologie inspired T-shirt was made from one and a half small white men's undershirts. It only cost about $3.00 to make ( I got a 3-pack at Target for $6.00 whoo-hoo!) 
I Started by making the T-shirt more 'female friendly' and less boxy by tailoring it using a T-shirt that I like the fit. (pictures of how-to below). Then I took the left over bits, and about half of another undershirt (cut up into strips) to make the ruffles
More explanation to come I promise! Keep reading! 

This is the other half of the 3-pack undershirts. This turned out to be much more ruffly than I thought (old school tuxedo shirt anyone?) but one run through the washer aught to calm the ruffles a little. I again made the shirt fitted, placed the ruffles, sewed it, and all done. Took about a hour or so to complete. 

Obviously the green one turned out the best!! This is one of three XL Knit cotton T-shirts I bought at TJ Maxx for $5.99 each. I liked the neck line, but obviously the shirt was too big--so again tailored it, made the left overs scraps into ruffles --AND a flower, sewed them on, and DONE!! 

I'll be showing you how to do this Green side ruffle detail with fabric flower- because I actually remembered to take pictures of the process!

How to tailor a shirt
 - Sewing machine
 - matching thread
 - shirt to be tailored
 -shirt that currently fits you well
 - chalk/pencil 
 - scissors
 -floor/table space!

Here is some basic sewing terminology to keep things straight

First things first. Lay your shirt out flat so the side seams, arm holes, etc all line up. Then lay the shirt you like the fit of folded in half on top of your unfitted shirt like this:

Now with your chalk/pencil, draw a line about a half inch larger than your fitted shirt (for seam allowance).  Do the same for the left side of your shirt. 

Now sew the side hems, you can pin if if you want--but I'm lazy so I didn't do it nor did I take a pictures..
After you sew up both side hems of the shirt try it on and make sure you like the fit, if its too tight, rip out the seam and start over. If it's too loose then sew about a quarter inch more.
Once you are satisfied trim the excess off, now it should look like this:

Use the excess to make RUFFLES! Or you can throw the excess away and just have a fitted T-shirt. :o)

Green side ruffle detail with fabric flower

 -Sewing machine, and matching thread, scissors, sewing needle, pins
-T-shirt that is 3 -4 sizes too big for you
- Fitted T-shirt that you already own/like the fit of

Here are my awesome XL Knit shirts from TJ Maxx....

First make the shirt fitted by sewing the side hems, and trimming the bottom hem if its too long (i cut about 2 inches off and my shirt is still plenty long)

Now your shirt looks like this

Next, take the Side hem left overs and cut off the surged part, leaving you with two strips of fabric, and a surged hem.

 Now cut the bottom hem off of the excess fabric (this will be your flower)
So now you have  lots of fabric bits that look like this:

Now take one of the pieces of fabric (not the hem parts) and using the largest straight stitch setting on  your machine (usually number 5) sew a line straight down the middle of the fabric...DO NOT lock your stitch in by reversing at the beginning and end of your stitch.

Now with the loose ends of thread, pull the top stitch thread and you will create a baste. If you pull a thread and it doesn't ruffle try the other one!

See the ruffle starting? 

Now pull the threads and even out the ruffle, make it as tight or loose of a ruffle as you desire, now place your ruffled pieces on your shirt and pin. Don't for get about the surged pieces from the side hems, they also make great additions to your ruffled shirt!

Having problems laying your ruffles out? Need some inspiration? How about searching some of your favorite clothing websites and looking for ruffled T-shirts, like Anthropologie? (that's my favorite)

Now that you are all pinned in--you can sew the ruffles on. Use a straight medium/small size stitch and take your time!!!! Try to keep the ruffles ruffl-ee by sewing right down the middle over the baste stitch you made earlier. 

Now you are done with ruffles, see not too bad right??

Fabric flower time!! Using the bottom hem piece, sew a baste stitch (large straight stitch) about a quarter inch from the edge, remember- don't lock your stitch!! keep the ends loose!! 

Again pull the thread and make it ruffle a little, then roll the fabric onto itself making the center of your flower. Sew small stitches as you go. Hope these pictures make more sense (sorry for the blurry pictures, my camera is acting up)

This is the underside of the flower, I'm trying to show you the stitches, but it didn't come out very well. Also use a pin to hold your progress if you have to put the flower to talk to your mom  on the phone like I did. You don't want it to unfold and start over!! 

Now for the final touch--- Hand sew your flower in place, and do your happy dance because you just made an awesome, one of a kind, ruffle shirt, with a fabric flower!!! Good job!!! 

Whew, that was a long tutorial!!! I hope this is easy to understand and follow!!! If you need help with anything just let me know!! 

This tutorial was featured on My Craft Discovery, Thanks Lynette!


  1. Smart idea!! I love the green shirt! Thanks for linking @Creative Itch's "Sew Cute Tuesday"!

  2. I love this idea so much, I decided to feature it! Come on over to my blog and grab my featured button (you'll find it in my buttons tab). It's pretty new so if it doesn't work let me know! Thanks again for such a cute idea!

  3. How creative! I would never be able to figure this out on my own, thanks for sharing on Sister Sister Sunday!

  4. I can't wait to fix two of my shirts! Thanks for sharing.

  5. i am going to try this on a super long tank i got at old navy for $2! i hate long shirts that add bulk to your middle. anyone who's had a baby or two doesn't need any added bulk around there!

  6. Hi Christina - I'll be featuring your shirts tomorrow. Thanks so much for linking to The Sunday Showcase - I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  7. That is so cute!!! One question....if you don't alter the shoulders do you wind up with the shoulders being too wide?

  8. @ One Life Many Journeys:

    I actually have very wide shoulders- so this shirt still fit pretty good even though it was 3x to big. If you have problems with the shoulders being to large, you could aways do a gathered stitch across the top seam of the shoulder to create a bunching effect that would both look nice and take up extra fabric over the shoulders!

  9. This is so nice. I love the green one!

    Visiting from Under the Table's link party!

    Rachelle S.

  10. this is very nice! i love it! thanks for sharing..

  11. Awesome work! They are very cute. I'm not sure I have the sewing talent for this... practice makes perfect though! ;)

  12. would this still work if the shirt is only a size or two bigger?

  13. Hi, I've read thru this tutorial several times & studied the pics. I wonder if you left out an important detail: to turn your tshirt so the wrong side is out when you sew up and cut off the side hems? Your side hems (in your pics) seem to not show when your shirt is turned right-side out, so I'm guessing this is what you did. I have a size large shirt which envelopes me and is sooo way too long. So if I tailor it as you have suggested, I will have plenty of fabric scraps for making the ruffles. I've studied a lot of tutorials for ruffled tshirts and the style you've showed appeals to me the most. I'm not sure about an unhemmed tshirt though.... how have you liked the look? I'm thinking I may make my large shirt a bit short then add a ruffle at the bottom so that the hem issue AND the length are taken care of.

  14. Hello,
    Wow..this shirt is just looking awesome..I loved your idea of converting cheap undershirts. into a new women tee shirt...Very nice post...Thank you too much.......


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