Twist on a Classic White Tee

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Looking for easy sewing projects? This just might be your lucky day. You don’t need a machine to make this adorable t-shirt, just fabric, a pattern (or a good fitting t-shirt to use as a pattern,) scissors, pins, a needle, and thread.

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I didn’t post how to do it here, since I have so many other tutorials on hand sewing whole garments.

Here are the links:

Baby T-shirt Tutorial

Make Your Own Yoga Gear

Super Hero Tank Top

 

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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Don't Use

Girls Racer Back Jersey Knit Dress

I just opened an Etsy Store so from now on I’ll be building an inventory of items to sell. I’m a little apprehensive of listing women’s clothing right now because I feel like the fit should be personalized since women’s shapes are so varied. Maybe that’s just my hang up, though. We all buy off the rack, right? Nonetheless, I felt a little more comfortable for now working with kids clothes since the patterns and sizing are so much simpler. I definitely didn’t want to list something made from someone else’s pattern, so I designed a simple little dress that is easy to care for and wear, but still so cute with the flower embellishments!

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I used a pattern I made a couple years ago from a great fitting tank top my daughters loved. I used it originally to upcycle a men’s T-Shirt into a girls tunic shirt. I decided to remake the pattern into a dress by adding a dirndl skirt to it. I shortened the pattern from the tunic length I used last time, but left it long enough to make this a drop-waist dress. I used new fabric, but this would be a perfect project for upcycling T-Shirts. Here’s how to make one of your own. First, make a pattern for the bodice by tracing a tank top and adding seam allowance. To make it even easier, you could choose a tank that has the same pattern pieces for front and back. You could also use a t-shirt or a long sleeve style for variation. Then cut a rectangle for the skirt. I made mine 12″ long X the width of the fabric I had.

 

Step 1: Sew the Bodice together at side and shoulder seams. I used my serger, but you could use a zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine.

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Step 2: Sew a narrow or rolled hem. This is actually really easy to do with a knit.eaa

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Step 3: I sewed the back seam of the skirt at this point. You could do this before hemming, also.

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Step 4: Run a hand gathering stitch along the top edge of the skirt. I used red so it would stand out and be easy to remove once I sewed the skirt to the bodice.

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Step 5: Gather the skirt and slide the gathers around to distribute the fullness evenly.nbv

jytAll The Pieces Before Sewing Together

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Step 6: Pin the skirt to the bodice and sew together using a zigzag stitch or serger.xdf

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Step 7: Sew the neckline and armhole binding on. I measured around each opening and cut my pieces 1-2 inches shorter than the opening. Iron the binding strips in half and pin on with raw edges together on the outside of the garment, stretching to fit as you pin. Sew on using a zigzag stitch, then flip so the raw edges of the binding are turned to the inside and top stitch near the seam with a zigzag.

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Step 8: Create Flowers using either scraps from the dress fabric like I did or a cute contrasting fabric. I found it super easy to make flowers out of the jersey knit.  For the big light gray flower, cut a strip about 2 ” wide and then cut scallops into one edge and gather with a running stitch down the length of the straight side.  Sew the flower together in a circle starting with the center and moving around. I put a bead in the center of the big flower. The smaller flowers are made in the same manner, but using strips of fabric that are 1 and 2 inches wide, tapering down to 1/2″ on the other end. The flowers are simple and fun to do, and you can just experiment until you get some you like. (If you end up with any extras, you can just hot glue them to some little hair clips and you have some cute new accessories. You could also use them for a matching headband.)

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Step 9: Decide where you want the flowers to be and hand sew the flowers onto the dress. This can be a little tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. Just be careful to sew them on firmly, but don’t  pull the thread so much that it bunches the dress fabric up.

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I hope everyone enjoys this project and if you make one of your own, I’d love to see it in the comments section!

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The Moral of the Story?

Start small- literally: kid’s clothes are a good way to work on your sewing skills.

And diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but flowers make her feel pretty!

Also, I enjoy starting sentences with conjunctions… a lot! And I highly recommend it!