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

    Thread

    A sewing machine, serger, or hand sewing needle

    Scissors

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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.)

 

Flower Hair Clip Fiesta Tres

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“Oooh La La La! That’s the way that we rock when we’re doin our thing.” Remember that song? If so, you’re getting old, but that’s ok. I am too.  Need an explanation? Flowers make me think Oh la la, which made me sing the song in my head, and presto change-o, I’ve shared it with you for your enjoyment. That is, if you were a Fugees fan. If not, this is one paragraph you’ll never appreciate, but don’t worry…it gets better.

On to the Flower!

Supplies You’ll Need to Make It: 

This one is made using jersey knit (t-shirt) fabric, hand sewing, and a cute little silver bead left over from the time I made wrap bangle bracelets.
Remember that? If not, check out the post and tutorial Here.photo (4) ..

How You Make It:

Cut a rectangular piece of knit fabric. (I made these flowers months ago, so I don’t remember the exact dimensions I used. 3″ X 12″ should do it.

Cut that rectangle into two scalloped strips by cutting lengthwise nearer to one side in a wave motion, creating one thin strip and one thick strip. (I hope that makes sense. If not, hit me up in the comments section. If you want, I’d be glad to re-do some of these flowers and get step-by-step pictures for a bona fide tutorial! Just let me know-I love your feedback.)

Gather both pieces separately by sewing a hand running stitch down the straight edges and pulling until they are long enough to wind around 3 or 4 times.

Once they are both gathered, put the thin piece on top of the larger one and spin both pieces around until you’ve got a flower shape. (If you want, you can sew as you spin. Stitch each new round in place before making a new layer.) The two sizes layered together give the flower more dimension and texture, which you can see in this picture.f (3)

This fabric is super easy to sew and thin enough that I made the flower shape first and then sewed through all layers. If you didn’t sew along as you were forming the flower, do so now, holding the flower in one hand and you sewing from back to front, front to back through all layers, making sure that all areas of the flower are in place and attached. Knot off in the back of the flower.

Run a line of stitching in the back to attach the very end of the fabric strip to the rest of the flower. You can see that in the picture below. Kind of. The fabric curled around the stitch line so the thread itself isn’t visible, but you can see where I sewed it together. Point is, you don’t want that piece in the back to be flopsy.b

Add your little bead, a button or other embellishment using needle and thread. Make sure it’s really securely attached, especially if you’re making it for a small child!f (3)

Attach it to a clip using felt and hot glue like my previous two flowers, or sew it directly to a garment. This flower was sewn on to a children’s dress I made a while back in This Tutorial. Check it out if you have time and let me know if you like it.klnmiulmgdf

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The Moral of the Story:

If you can’t get a song out of your head, write it somewhere on the internet- that’s what everyone does on Facebook now, right?

And if you need a really quick flower for a last minute DIY emergency, (which may seem unlikely, but the more you craft, the more it can happen) always go with jersey knit! It’s quick to sew and it never frays. A WIN-WIN!fdsa

As always, thank you for reading and stay tuned for tomorrow’s bonus post on the simplest of all the fast fabric flowers! (Hint-they can also be seen on the gray dress above.) Happy Thursday!

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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