Turn a T-Shirt into Leggings!

IMG_2622T-Shirt into leggings- Why not, right?

Upcycling T-shirts is all the rage these day. One needn’t wander any farther than Pinterest, Craftsy, or just a good, old-fashioned Google search to stumble upon oodles of ideas: tank tops, boy shorts, purses, rugs. You name it; crafters have probably thought of a way to make it using repurposed t-shirts.

When repurposing garments, I typically like to take them completely apart and use the fabric, not too much of the stitching. That way, it’s like making something from scratch, which I feel better about. That’s not to say I haven’t cut off ugly sleeves, shortened hems, and revamped old dresses and other articles of clothing. That can be really fun and definitely makes great before and after shots, but my preference is really to design from the ground up.

Upcycling is a great way to get your feet wet in the sewing world. Whether you’re brand new to sewing and just want to get in some practice or you’re an experienced seamstress and are just looking for economical projects, it’s a fantastic option. And as my followers know, you don’t even need a machine to get started sewing clothes. I used my serger for this project, which made it super fast, but if you don’t have a machine, aren’t comfortable sewing knits yet, or if you just love the artistic goodness of the hand-stitched look, whip out your needle and thread and read a couple of my tutorials and posts on hand sewing knits to get started!

Baby T-shirt Tutorial

Upcycled Tank Top

Little Girl’s Tank

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

    A Pattern (If you don’t have one, use a pair of leggings as a guide to make one. Just add seam     allowance.)

    One or multiple T-shirts

    1/2 Inch elastic for the waistband


    A sewing machine, serger, or hand sewing needle


Step 1: Prepare or make the pattern. I used a pair of yoga pants to make this pattern.


Step 2: Cut out the fabric. I used a cool graphic tee and one with a contrasting color for the foldover waistband. Ideally, I would like these leggings to be a little longer since my daughters are so tall, but since this t-shirt is very soft and thin, I decided these would be for Spring/Summer wear anyway and they’d be fine as capris.

I kept the hem at the bottom for ease of sewing and because I don’t have a cover stitch machine that will do that type of hem yet. I like to avoid the zig-zag stitch for knits if I can. Another option for taller kids would be to use another t-shirt and extend the pattern. Just sew the extra piece to the bottom of the pant legs before sewing the pant. IMG_2623


Step 3: Cut the elastic. You can measure the waist of the pants you made the pattern from, follow the pattern package directions, or measure your child’s waist. I prefer the third method. That way, you get a wonderful fit the first time around.


Step 4: Sew the pants together. I don’t have step-by-step pics for the sewing portion, but if you’re a sewing newbie, feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

My favorite way to sew pants is to sew the inseam and outseam (this pattern only has one seam per leg, so I just folded each leg over and sewed that seam) and then turn one leg right side out and put it inside the leg that is right side in, so that the right sides of each leg are facing each other and sew the crotch seam, being careful to match the inseam up on both sides. (Click here for an easy tip on how to do that well.)

If there’s a waistband, sew it on with the elastic inside. If there’s no waistband, sew the elastic together at the ends and roll the top of the pants down over it to make a casing and sew, using a zig zag stitch or cover stitch.

   For an example of an elastic casing, click on the picture below.photo 10

Do not sew the waistband or crotch with a straight stitch, because the threads will break as soon as the pants stretch! I wouldn’t recommend sewing the vertical seams with a straight stitch, either. With knits, your stitches must allow for stretch, or your kid may be looking at a pretty embarrassing day at school.





The Moral of the Story:

If you have more time than money, upcycling is a fabulous way to pursue a hobby and get in your sewing fix.

Also, make use of that zig-zag stitch, please! Friends don’t let friends rip their pants.

Whatcha Workin On Wednesday

IMG_2622Yoga Pants for Kids out of T-shirts! Yaya! 

IMG_2625My dad will officially kill me if he finds out I’m making clothing for kids with skulls on it, but this Tee was just too perfect for this project to pass up. I’ll just tell him it’s a pirate thing. (Guns and swords he’s totally ok with.)

IMG_2623I had to cut this a wee bit shorter than my pattern, so they’ll be long capris, but it’s getting warmer soon.

IMG_2624I had big plans for upcycling this tee, but again, it was too perfect not to use with the gray punk theme, so I went for it. Let’s all take a moment to mourn for all the glorious other projects this shirt will never be turned into now. . . A swing style tank top, a re-worked tee shirt for my daughters, a baby cardigan, and so many more that it had the potential to become. (Or am I the only one who’s hesitant to cut something up because I’m not absolutely sure I’m ready to rule out the other possible projects I could use that fabric for?) There’s still enough there for a tiny garment, anyway.


Leave it in the Comment Section:

What are you guys currently working on? (I know some of you have like 20 irons in the sewing fire right now! Share a few of them with us.)


Captain America T-Shirt Remake


Ok, so I admit it. I’ve never actually read any Marvel comics (or any comics for that matter.) I’ve never even watched the Captain America Movie. I’m a nerd, but not in that way, how’s that. Like, if Chaucer, Hawthorne, or C.S. Lewis were super heros, then I’d read the comic books! (Chaucer would make a terrible super hero, wouldn’t he? It would be like a 1400 page graphic novel on someone who describes places and people’s physical characteristics for so long that all of his enemies fall asleep and die. His name would be Canterbury Fail. Hawthorne wouldn’t be much better. 40 pages to describe a tiny fishing village in The Scarlet Letter? Really?)

But let’s face it, superheros are fun! (I’m a batman girl myself…gotta love the dark side.) Between making this shirt and the Captain America trailer I’ve watched over and over on my copy of Guardians of the Galaxy, (I think that’s the movie I keep seeing it on.) I’ll probably break down and rent it soon. And yes, that is a copy of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the background. It’s just the best. Bam! I’m not sure if you guys care, but I’m still salty because in kindergarten, I was always the only girl who wanted to play Turtles instead of house, so they ALWAYS made me be April. I just wanted to be Mikey or Donnie. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

These are just pics of the process and tips on how to add fabric if your pattern is bigger than the fabric you have to work with.

For more posts on upcycling T-Shirts and hand stitching check out these posts:

Step-By-Step Picture Tutorial

Decorate a Top WIth an Easy Flower

Girls Tank Applique Tank Top

Make Your Own Yoga Gear (A step-by-step tutorial on how to make a sports bra)


The Original T-Shirt


How to cut up a t-shirt for upcycling the most efficient way.


Oops! Not enough room. (I had to use the bottom for binding for the neck and arm holes.) Not to worry. Just make a separate piece for the missing part of the strap! Be sure to add enough for seam allowance. I love how this turned out, anyway. It’s a cool decorative seam now because I did the contrast top-stitch. Happy Accidents! I’m tellin ya.IMG_2383



For the pattern for the extra strap piece, I used tailor’s chalk to mark where the fabric stopped on my pattern. Then I measured down one inch (to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance on both pieces.)IMG_2386

I didn’t get a picture of cutting out the strap piece, but here’s what they look like pinned on.IMG_2411

Here it is, Folks!IMG_2412

Have I ever told you I love hand-stitching and contrast top stitching? A million times? Ok, well consider this a million and one!IMG_2416-0

Dun du du daaahhh!!! Is that Super-Hero-y enough? I don’t know how well theme music comes off in print.IMG_2417

Contrast Topstitching!!!!IMG_2421-0






Leave it in the Comment Section:

Who’s your favorite Super Hero and has that ever influenced your style or designs? 

Hand Stitched Girls Cardigan

4-7-13 038One of the forms of sewing I’m most passionate about is hand stitching. I first did a project with jersey knit by hand 7 years ago, using a whip stitch around the side seams so I could assure it wouldn’t fall apart. I absolutely loved working with jersey by hand! But I remember thinking it just wasn’t feasible…too time consuming, too likely to fall apart. So I gave it up after that project…until I found the completely hand stitched clothing line Alabama Chanin. It’s amazing! Natalie Chanin uses astonishing hand embroidery and embellishment as a trademark. I don’t have the patience or the willingness to do that on my work. My passion is more pattern making. I’d prefer to make a more complicated design and sew it simply than a simple design that lends itself to embroidery. (Not that this blue cardigan is complicated or wouldn’t look great emboidered if I had the patience to sew more than just the one leaf you can see in the left side of the picture on this cardi.)

What I took away from Miss Chanin’s work is that a simple running stitch with the right thread is more than enough to sew a garment together that won’t fall apart. And believe me, this is a tried and true method. I made this cardigan about 2 years ago and it gets washed all the time.

For a tutorial on how to hand stitch a garment, see my article A Hand Stitched Baby T. Projects like this lend themselves to upcycling, and for this project, I used a super soft T-Shirt I found at Goodwill for the light blue and a maxi dress that got too small for me for the binding.  For my other project using the dark teal, check out the pics in my article on how to make an embroidered long sleeve t-shirt. When selecting a piece to upcycle for a project like this, try to look for: the biggest sizes possible, fabric that’s soft to the touch, items that don’t have many seams, and dresses are great because they have so much fabric. When in doubt, grab your old T-shirts and turn them into a new piece of clothing instead of a T-Shirt Quilt.


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5-3-13 1775-3-13 180


5-3-13 179

Don't Use

Making Due and How To Make An Easy Flower

IMG_2101What do you do when the rad concert t-shirt you turned into a one of a kind, hand-sewn, work of strappy-backed art gets a hole in it? You make due with what you have, that’s what! One of my favorite sayings is “When life hands you lemons. . . you freeze ’em and throw them back so it really hurts like heck.” Or something like that.
What is design but making something where there was nothing before? So why did I let myself get all bent out of shape when the shirt I had just made ended up with a hole in it? (Stupid Cat!!!) I was just about to list it on Etsy when I noticed the anomaly, and I just let it hang in my sewing room for months. (Thanks to that lack of decisiveness that creative people are often plagued with.) I didn’t want to darn and mend it and then sell it. I didn’t want to list it with a hole in it. I felt like a flower over it may be too out of place. So I just left it. Ever been there?
But I did the brave thing and finally got it out. A flower was my only option for true repair that didn’t look awful, so that’s what I went with. It may not be part of my original design or intention, but aren’t happy accidents the part of design that I’m always touting, anyway? So now I have a kick-arse (Can I say that?) Led Zeppelin shirt that, yes, has a flower on it, and I love it. It’s edgy and pretty. Together. And because of that, in a happy accident kind of way, it embodies my whole design aesthetic. Thank you, fate. (I don’t actually believe in fate. That was a literary device lest you think I’m totally naive. I do like to personify ideas and attributes to sound like I’m talking to them. I also like to over-explain what I’m doing. You’re welcome.)

Who knew such a tiny hole could cause so much anguish?IMG_2088

Luckily, I had some scraps from the fabric I used to make the godets for this shirt. (The little triangles I added to the sides.)

IMG_2089I cut out a shape that would work for a flower-It was already there. I just tidied up the edges a bit. If you’re using this post on a tutorial to make an easy flower, take any jersey knit (t-shirt) fabric and cut it between 6-12 inches and taper it so one side is wider than the other. I liked the curved edge for this flower.IMG_2090Using a running stitch, sew near the bottom edge of the fabric all the way across. Don’t worry about the stitch being perfectly even. Unless chaos kills you inside. Then you can be perfectionistic if you want to.IMG_2092-0

I used Button & Craft thread. It’s heavy duty stuff. It’s cheap. And it will last. Highly recommend it!IMG_2091-0

After you’ve stitched the edge, pull the thread to gather the fabric so your flower crinkles up. Cute, no?IMG_2093Using the same length of thread, sew the flower together. Just take the needle in from the back and out the front and vice versa. Make sure your stitches aren’t noticeable and don’t sew down that cute fullnes in the middle of the flower! Once it’s sewn together adequately, secure it with a knot in the back.IMG_2094

You’re done with your easy flower! Now you can sew it onto a garment or accessory, or you can hot glue a piece of felt with a safety pin to the back so it’s detachable. I used black thread for this flower so you can’t see any stitching and since there are so many flower options, I’ll probably do a whole post on easy flowers and break down exactly how to sew them together for newbies.IMG_2096

I mended the hole before I attached the flower so it wouldn’t fray.IMG_2097This was the shirt’s original design.Finished front

And this is what I ended up with. I’m actually more it this way. You know, after all that unnecessary worry and feeling like I couldn’t possibly make a flower work.IMG_2098IMG_2099

And here are some of the details I love about this top.

The braided binding. Boy, this stuff takes forever to make, but it’s so versatile, strong, pretty, and unusual! Plus, this shirt was entirely hand stitched and it lends itself to that medium.

finished backIMG_2100

The godet panel and hi-lo hem.Finished-sideGodet finished stitching
And this beautiful contrast stitching. The hem stitch is a stretchy one that I learned from one of Natalie Chanin’s books. Love her!Hem Stitch

Also, if this 2 for one post wasn’t enough for you, here are some other ridiculous and fun lemons quotes. Enjoy:

If life gives you lemons, keep them, because, hey, free lemons!

When life hands you lemons, slice those suckers up and grab some vodka.

When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Then life will be all like…What?!?

When life hands you lemons, make grape juice, and sit back and watch everyone wonder how you did it.

If life gives you lemons, sell them and buy shoes!

Unless life also hands you water and sugar, you’re lemonade is gonna suck.

When life hands you lemons, freeze them and throw them as hard as you can at the people making your life difficult. (Okay, this was the one I was thinking of earlier. I got it totally wrong!)

When life hands you lemons, it’s time for tequila shots.

When life gives you lemons, make bacon. Discard the lemons.


Make It Work!

During one of my Goodwill ugly sweater trips a few weeks ago, I pulled out this spectacular Fair Isle Liz Claiborne sweater. (There’s nothing I love more than fair isle…except possibly herringbone…and of course argyle! I’ve become quite the fashion prepster in my ripe old age.) The problem is, I spotted it as an amazing thrift steal, but when I pulled it out to show it to my husband, he said, “Yeah, that’ll be great for the ugly sweater party! It’s bad.” Frowny face.IMG_2113IMG_2112

I can see why he’d think that, and I even put so much stock in his initial opinion that I almost put it back. That is, until I turned the little number around and saw the gathered back. Magnificent! Just look at this gorgeous exquisiteness. Okay, you may not be as stoked as I am, but I think it’s pretty great.


The only thing is, when I tried it on, it looked so bland from the front. The fit was definitely wonky. I don’t even think this photo does it justice, but trust me, it just felt frumpy. Plus, whenever I put it on, the hubby would chuckle. Punk! Every time I passed this in the closet, I was determined to find the right outfit to go with it to make it as awesome as I knew it could be. (I also had the idea to do blog posts now and then about finding thrifted items that most people would ignore or even hate, and make them work. That’s kind of a thrill to me. Then again, I’m pretty boring.) I thought it might be good with this outfit, but still wasn’t satisfied with it after I put it all together. So I decided to do a little improvised alteration. (Another thing that I find exciting and further proof of my nerdiness.)


Here’s the cardi as it was. Pretty boxy. It works for the back with the gathers, but not so flattering for the front.IMG_2110

I started out with one of my favorite stand-bys: Blue Tailor’s Chalk. I capitalized the name out of my complete reverence for Tailor’s Chalk. I don’t know where I’d be without the stuff.

Then I sewed down to take in and contour the side seam.

And These Are The Pictures of The Finished Product

If I roll up the sleeves and leave it unzipped, it’s like a moto-jacket but Golden Girls style. I’m a pretty tough chick.





This is the picture I sent my husband when I finished it to show I was right. We’re pretty competitive! I usually win.


IMG_2123Cute boots and a dog bone. My little gift to you.

Comments Section Question: What’s your favorite cute/ugly score and how’d you make it work?

How’d The Ugly Sweaters Turn Out?

Dec. 2014 Group 2 414Like dresses for the most part.  But we did end up with a couple legitimate sweaters. I didn’t go all out and nothing lights up, so my best friend’s is still my favorite. (She had twinkling stars poking out from holes all around her sweater. She’s so stinking creative.) We didn’t win any best sweater awards at church, but they were fun to wear and pretty fun to make.


 This dress was just so adorable the way it was. Both of my girls wanted to keep it for every day wear. Neither of their names start with a C.

Dec. 2014 Group 2 416

So I admit, I  kind of threw the dresses together at the last minute. I ran out of steam a bit after the sweaters, but the girls enjoyed them. They both had jingle bells on them, so it was a pretty loud church service. Fun.
Dec. 2014 Group 2 404

Mine was pretty silly. It wasn’t as extravagant as I was gonna go for, but I just couldn’t resist this cute ugly puppy! I did manage to add really big jingle bells to my right shoulder so I could do a little festive shoulder jig every few minutes to make sure everyone at the party was still awake and merry.

This is the hubby! That’s the nicest thing I can think to call him since he often calls me his “ole lady.” Flattering. I’m still proud of our Goodwill crochet score. I’m extra super proud that there are jingle bells in each of those wreaths. I totally made him jiggle for everyone who complimented his sweater. The man can shimmy.IMG_2031Dec. 2014 Group 2 421

Dec. 2014 Group 2 418

Dec. 2014 Group 2 417

Dec. 2014 Group 2 415

Dec. 2014 Group 2 401IMG_2005




I feel like I have a lot of explaining to do about this picture. I didn’t get any pictures of myself in the hat and the sweater together, but this is the magnificent hat I found to go with. I think I may wear it throughout the year when I have diva moments. Try arguing with a woman in that hat!

Merry Christmas, guys!!!!

Hand Sewn Embroidered Long Sleeve Tee- Geesh That’s a Mouthful!

fdsafWhat you’ll need:

Jersey knit fabric– I used an old maxi dress of mine that I bought becasue it was super cheap (Half off at Goodwill ain’t bad!) but it never really fit right. Ever been in that boat, Ladies? Just kidding, I KNOW you have!

Thread- I like to use a contrasting color.

Embroidery floss– There are so many to choose from- go nuts!

Hand sewing needles– one regular and one with a larger eye for embroidery thread.

A good-fitting shirt- You’ll use this to make the pattern from.

Paper- This is to make your pattern- any will do! I love using kraft paper, but you can tape together printer paper, lined paper, or tissue paper, too. (I use tissue paper a lot because it stores so easily. I just keep a few packs of white at home.)

Pencil– To trace your pattern

Quilter’s ruler- To add seam allowance to the pieces. I always add a half inch. If you don’t have a clear ruler, you can improvise with a regular one, it will just take a lot longer. Ooh, OR-and this just came to me-you could cut a piece of  cardstock  in a rectangular strip that is a half inch wide and use that as your guide to trace around the pattern.

Stencil– Again, if you don’t have any, make your own! Print a template you find online and cut out the shapes. You could also freehand the design if you’re brave.

Fabric marker- You could use tailor’s chalk or a kid’s washable marker as well, or, heck, even a crayon if you use one in a similar color to the embroidery thread.

Optional: Stabilizer fabric, Embroidery hoop. These really are optional, because I didn’t use either. I will say that it probably would have gone a little easier if I did, though.ERFDS

I always like to emphasize that if you have the desire to sew, you CAN SEW!

Don’t ever let not having a machine or the right equipment hold you back. Make due with what you have! No money for fabric? Buy a 99 cent thrift store t-shirt and cut it up. If that’s not enough fabric, but two colors  of t-shirts and make something color-blocked! No money for pattern drafting paper? Tear a bunch of sheets out of a notebook and tape those babies together! The point is, whatever you don’t have is irrelevant. Designers are creative, but also inventive. Just take it from Tim Gunn and “Make it Work!”



photo 3

photo 4






I’m not breaking this down into tiny steps and I don’t have pictures for each step, but I will tell you what to do start to finish to knock-off a favorite shirt of yours or your kid’s and assemble and embelish it by hand. It’s really very simple.

1.Trace your shirt onto paper. There will be three pattern pieces…Front, back, and sleeve. I didn’t use it here, but if you want to use neck binding, just measure around the neck and subtract a couple inches for the binding piece and cut a strip that length X about an inch.

2. Add seam allowance to your pattern pieces. Measure 1/2 in out from the traced lines.

3. Cut out the fabric. I use pattern weights instead of pins to make this process even simpler and quicker!

4.Sew the pieces together using a hand running stitch. This is explained on previous posts of mine on hand sewing. (You can fold the seam over and sew it down for a flat- felled seam and it makes a really beautiful top stitch.)

5. Hem. Sew the hem, neckline, and sleeves the same way. You can use a hand stretch stitch, or even a running stitch, as long as the opening doesn’t need to stretch much. The shirt I made is kind of a boat neck, so I could have gotten away with a straight stitch if I wanted.

6. Trace the stencil. Figure out the placement and draw it onto your sewn garment. I used a FriXion pen by Pilot that disappears when it’s ironed.  I got it from Missouri Star Quilt Company online, but again, improvise if you need to.

7. Embroider. Ok, easier said than done here. I was a total newbie, but it was pretty fun. I don’t even know the names for the embroidery  techniques I used. I just wrapped the thread around the scroll designs and then did a little running stitch and one cross stitch above that. I didn’t practice any before hand, I just went for it. And I’m glad I did! My kids love this shirt! Maybe I’m getting over my perfectionism. Mary, are you…chuckling?





The Moral of the Story? You already KNOW! Just get up and make something! Don’t let what you don’t have hold you back. ..And stop laughing at me, I know I’m not over perfectionism. One day, maybe.

A Very Pinterest Christmas

photo (4) ..photo 4


   Pick one project. Stick to it until it’s finished. Pick another project. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? So why is it such a hard concept to master? While looking at Pinterest and adding pictures to my “Make for Christmas” board, I though to myself “Am I actually going to make all of these gifts?” I decided that I am. Or at least I’ll make several. Heck, a few would be better than any other year! I invited all my facebook friends over for a weekly DIY Christmas gift party. Two came. Hey, it’s a start, right?

I had a blast!!! Well, I may have talked more than I crafted, but it really inspired me to be around people doing their own projects. One of my friends was making a picture frame with her niece’s initials inside for her bedroom wall, and the other was working on a quilt made from her daughter’s old clothes. I went for a set of wrapped bangle bracelets.

The pin I found was originally from:    http://best-diy-ideas.blogspot.co.at/2014/01/how-to-make-summer-bracelet.html


The project required:

Bangle Bracelets

Embroidery Floss

E6000 Jewelry Glue


Jewelry making Rings

(All of which I found economically at Walmart!)


photo 1


The wrapping process is mesmerizing and addicting. (And a lot easier than I thought it would be. Just squeeze a bead of glue in the inside about 3/4 of an inch long and wrap until you come to the end of it.) This step did require that I put the embroidery thread on a cardboard spool. . . These would have been a hot mess without doing that!

photo 2


The Complete Set of 5photo 4photo 1.
photo 2. photo 3.
photo 4. photo 5 photo 5. photo (4) ..

Tied with a Bow for Presentationphoto (5)..


The project was easy and SO much fun!!! I absolutely LOVE wrapping things in string.  : ) One Christmas present down!

The moral of the story?

Finished is better than perfect! So don’t switch projects when they get tough or boring. And when in doubt, wrap stuff in sting!

Turn a Old T-Shirt into an Embellished Tank


Original Shirt


Finished TankHearts close up



My daughter isn’t fond of change. She loves what she loves and can’t bear to part with it, even if what she loves is ruined. When she gets a stain  that I can’t get out, I covertly sneak it into the trash can in our laundry room, invariably covering it over with mounds of lint and old fabric softener boxes! Out of the 3 hundred thousand shirts in her closet (it feels like,) she only wears about 6 of them. Over and Over. And no amount of “mommy persuasion” can get her to turn to the fancier shirts I would love to see her wear. So when her favorite pink shirt came up stained and I couldn’t Shout it out, my little heart broke. It broke partly because the pink shirt was a duplicate-triplicate, is, I guess, the more appropriate word. We had at least three in various colors. The yellow one was ruined and turned into a doll dress a few months ago, so she’s been down to two. And the green one is on its last leg with a pinhole forming in it. The other reason for my dismay is that I believe the stain was my fault. It’s a long story that’s neither here nor there and we’ll just keep this little secret between us, shall we? : ) SHHHH!


stain on back

Well, when I was doing laundry and came across one of her stained under shirts, it came to me. I could turn her beloved top into a tank to go under her clothes. You can never have enough of them, and it doesn’t matter how stained they are, unless they’re under something transparent. I knew it would be a quick transformation and hopefully alleviate the pain of losing yet another tee shirt. (She hates growing out of clothes, as well.) In the end, I used leftover fabric from the sleeves to cut hearts that I sewed onto the shirt- some over the stain so she can just wear it as a tank top. Here are the few steps to make this cutesy little tank.

Find a well- fitting tank top to make a pattern from.

Tank top to copy



Lay the tank on top of the old t shirt and cut around it, leaving about an extra half inch for seam allowance.

Tank to Tee

*IMPORTANT* If the tank top you’re using for a pattern is a rib knit and the shirt you’re cutting is a jersey knit, add quite a bit of extra width. Rib knit stretches 2-3 times more than jersey. I though I gave myself plenty extra, but the shirt ended up snug on my daughter. (It fits her, but not for long, so we’ll probably have to go through one more remake on it before we’re through. I’m thinking I could add a triangle godet panel to the back of it. I think those are adorable and they’re so popular right now.)

When cutting the neckline, do each piece separately, since the front and back may be slightly different.

cut around tank


  *TIP* You can use the original hem for your hem, which is what I did. My serger doesn’t have the cover stitch, (the one used at the bottom of t-shirts that allow the hem to stretch) but has two rows of straight top stitching, so I used what was already there and avoided a zigzag stitch hem.


Cut strips for straps.

I had enough fabric from near the neckline in the back of the old shirt. One strip even had the tagless label stamped on it, but it doesn’t show up once the strap was finished, since it’s on the inside.



Serge or Zigzag stitch the side seams. I used my serger.

(If you don’t have a sewing machine, this would be a great project to do by hand. Just use a running stitch and stretch as you go.)

Side seam


Turn the neckline and armholes in twice, forming a narrow hem, and cover stitch or zigzag stitch.



Sew the straps using a serger or zigzag.

(I’m assuming you know how to sew a strap and turn it out. If not, leave it in the comment section and I’ll do a post on it. Here’s the rundown: fold the strap in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew down the side with the raw edges. Put a safety pin through the fabric on one of the ends and push it though the strap until it comes out the other side. Now your strap is made and turned out!) Iron your straps once they are turned and sew them onto the shirt. I used two rows of zigzag stitching to attach them.

*TIP* Use this opportunity to try it on your child (or yourself.) I would sew the straps to the back and leave the front undone. You can try it on like that and find out exactly how long you need the straps to be. Put a pin in the straps to use as a marker and cut some off it they’re too long. I didn’t do this and ended up having to take the strap fronts off to shorten.

Cut out hearts



Okay, so you’re shirt is made! Add a label if you want and you can embellish now to your heart’s content. I just cut out several hearts of various sizes, placing a couple strategically over stained areas. I put some on the front and on the back. I have 8 total, but it didn’t take very long. Plus, to me, the hand sewing is always the most fun, and the embellishment was an added surprise when I showed my daughter the finished product. She’s still not happy that it’s not her trusty t shirt anymore and said she would have preferred to just wear it with the stain, but she does like the new design. A win’s a win, right?

Where the stain used to be:

Big heart close up- where stain used to be

If anyone makes one of these, I’d love to see the pics! Post them in the comment section. I think the possibilities for applique shapes are endless- a car, puppy, or guitar for a little boy, stars, flowers, rainbows for little girls. A fleur-de-lis, paisly, or initials for a woman, a tribal print for a guy. I’d like to see what you guys come up with!

I also think this would be a great way to embelish a t-shirt quilt. Maybe one day.


The moral of the story?

Don’t stain your kids clothes-they do it enough themselves.

And when something awful happens, cover it up with love. Or a heart-shaped patch! Whichever’s easier. 🙂