Monday, August 30, 2010

Hand Sewn Skirts from Upcycled T-Shirts

Easy TShirt Skirt
upcycled tshirt, hand sewn with thread
size M, approximately, but probably more like one size fits all.
80/100 in 100 days creative challenge

I kept waiting to post my skirt because I wanted to add some embellishments. Perhaps some
appliqued flowers or a ruffle. I tried to make my skirt without sewing anything but the waist, but in the end, I had to cut off the sides of the t-shirt and cut out a vaguely A-line shape, and then stitch it up together again. I double sewed all the seams to make sure it lasted.

It's really comfortable, and great to throw on after coming home from work. But the hem is weird, because I left the t shirt hem the way it was, and it turns out, I should have cut it off and curved it just slightly. So last night, after the girl asking me for her own skirt every time I wore mine, I finally started hers, and I tried to take the lessons from the adventures of the first skirt.

She wanted pink, but I only had a purple t shirt, so I decided to use contrasting pink thread, since I like the way the hand sewing looks. I also set aside an old pink dress to use for trim, although I wasn't sure at first what kind of trim I would do. Notice that in this picture, I am basically just using the t-shirt as fabric. I have gotten rid of every seam and hem already.



After sewing together, using annekata's hints for hand sewing strong seams, I turned the skirt inside out and realized that I had meant to sew the skirt so the graphic didn't show. Ooops. I should have sewn the skirt right sides out, so when I turned it, it would be inside out and hide the graphic. Sometimes, you might want to have a graphic on your skirt, but I thought this was a little creepy for my three year old to wear on her butt. So.
So, I had to find a way to fix it so that I could hide the graphic and still have my nice neat right side out felled seams.

First I put in the waistband. I folded the fabric and double stitched it over an upcycled waistband from an old pair of leggings, then I set about fixing the problem.

My solution? The little pocket, which is actually made with the sleeve of the original tshirt. I kept all seams intact where I could on that. I'm sorry I didn't think to photograph that stage, as it was not planned.

If you'll notice, you can see that I simply cut out the underarm seam and trimmed the loose fabric off of the shoulder seam. Then I cut two little moons out of either side, for the pocket entrance. And I left the sleeve hem as is and used a blanket stitch to attach it to the waistband. And I double stitched the bottom of the pocket, which used to be the shoulder seam, to the skirt. I like the way the extra stitching makes a little ruffle.

When I finished the waistband and pocket, I decided that I didn't want to sew flowers all over it, that I liked the design enough to not fancify it, but I did want to sew a ruffle to the underside of the unhemmed skirt, to give it a hint of girliness and to echo the pink stitching. Plus the girl wanted pink.

For that I cut out a two inch strip of pink fabric from the old baby dress, then I gathered it roughly and pinned it to the hem, where I double stitched it on. It doesn't really look double stitched because I was running out of pink thread, so I did the second stitching with navy thread. Then I trimmed the ruffle so it was close to the skirt on the inside, near the stitching. The ruffle is far from perfect and isn't even at all, but it doesn't really need to be with all the exposed stitching and all. It definitely has a hand made feel to it, and that's what I'm going for.
Girl Skirt
handsewn, upcycled tshirt, upcycled baby clothes, thread
81/100 in 100 days creative challenge.

The last detail was the little ribbon, which was actually just another strip of fabric that I used for the ruffle. When I stretched it, it curled up and turned into a cord, so I tied it into a bow and stitched it on (along with a bit more double stitching to make the pocket more secure.)


Some action shots.

If I were to do this again, I would choose a slightly larger t-shirt. This was a size 8 girls shirt, for my size 3 daughter. My skirt was I believe an XL for me, who would normally wear an M. But if her t shirt was larger, I could have made it more A-line, which would give it more of a flow. It looks a bit straight, for my liking.
Who knows, next time I try this, I might get a little more ambitious and go for a gored skirt so she could do ballerina things, twirling and such.

One of the things I learned from this is that hand sewing is not as hard as you'd think. I did this in one night. That's it. One night. While watching Mad Men. And it was a lot more involved than my skirt was, what with the pocket and the ruffle. And taking the elastic waistband out of the old leggings took more time than sewing the actual skirt.

It seems crazy that I could whip up a skirt while my kid naps, even without a sewing machine, without even being that great of a seamstress. But I did. And maybe that means I could try some more complicated designs. My son has asked for a pair of pants. Yipes. I don't know. Maybe I'll make him a shirt, first.

Anyway, next time I try this, I'll try to keep better photos so I can do a clearer tutorial. Maybe I'll even make a pattern, instead of just cutting a skirt out freehand. This post is basically just a "hey you can do this too" post. Because, well, you can do this too.

3 comments:

Lindellica said...

You are an inspiration. I used to do stuff like this more. Should try again. I recently realized the salvation army near our house is full of stuff I could mess with. I was never into sewing machines, but I used to love to sew by hand.

Rowena said...

I forgot to tell you all that the skirt I made for me doesn't have an elastic waistband, but a draw string. I cut a long strip out of the sleeve, going in a spiral around it, and threaded that through the waistband. It's softer and more adjustable than elastic, and adds a little bow at the side of the skirt.

dragonflyreflections said...

Soooo cute - bet they're comfy too!

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