Monday, November 7, 2011

Mama's Got A Brand New Tee!

I have an admission to make .... I found a new addiction.  In addition to my love for thrift store rummaging I have now discovered a new place to rummage around for discount treasures ... it's a little place called Book Off.  They seem to be popping up in the malls around here.  It is a used book store, but they also sell used dvd, video games, and they buy all of those same things from you for cash.  I cannot stop buying books from that place!  I originally went there to sell a bunch of dvd's and a few books and then I got sucked into the kids section.  My kids love to read and a lot of their kids books are $1.  I've been able to fuel their Pokemon obsession for next to nothing.  I finally branched out from the kids section and started to see what else they had to offer.  I found the sewing section, which was small, but it had some nice quality books available.  I fell in love with this one ....

T-Shirt Makeovers
20 Transformations for Fabulous Fashions
By Sistahs of Harlem
Carmia Marshall and Carmen Webber
.... of course, I bought it!

I am very sentimental towards several of my t-shirts for some odd reason.  There are some I wear so much they eventually have to be stepped down to the PJ drawer or end up being a dirty job shirt, but no matter how stained or tattered they get I cannot toss them.  Then there are some other shirts I have that I love and are still in good condition, but the fit is off and they just never quite make it into my wardrobe circulation.  As soon as I got home I started digging though all my shirts and flipping though all the patterns in the book to find a good match.  This was such perfect timing, too, because I just cut a bunch of collars off some of my old favorite tee's.  I don't know why, but t-shirts with the standard collar drive me crazy.  I am always tugging at them.  Now I can actually do something a bit more fun and fancy than the cut off collar.

I started with one of the simplest patterns ... I am adding a tutorial at the end for this one.  It was super easy and you don't even need a sewing machine to make it.

Unfortunately, I totally didn't think to take a before picture.  D'oh!  Here is the photo from the book ...

Shirt design I picked and attempted first.
I decided to use my Gomez shirt.  I love this shirt (and the band!), but it had a regular collar and it always bugs me when I wear it.  The shirt used in the book was a large shirt, where my shirt was already pretty tight and fitted, so I didn't have to make many alterations.

Here's my finished product on my shirt.
Stay tuned for a tutorial!
 Next I chose to do one of the harder patterns.  Don't ask me why!  Well, actually it seemed like the best fit for the design on the shirt.  Plus, this shirt was huge, so I wanted to turn it into something small and sexy.

Here is the design I attempted to follow.
Shirt before ...

Shirt after .... I had to add an extra shoulder strap for a couple different reasons.  I love how the braided jersey worked out.  I didn't do the elastic across the bottom because I prefer the free-ness of the bottom.

The shirt lost a word ... it went from "This be me lucky shirt" to "Be me lucky shirt".  I must remember to cut the shirt with the print facing me, so I know what the heck I'm doing.  I still think it is super cute.  You will have to be pretty lucky yourself if you want to actually see it on me, though ;-).  This is going to be my around the house, cleaning shirt.  Sometimes I like to look cute and a little sexy when I clean ... I don't know why, but it makes it just a tad more fun when I do the dusting.

After that shirt I was inspired!

I cut up a bunch more shirts and decided on doing a skirt with two of them and a pair of sweat pant shorts.  The book has a patten for a shirt skirt, but I didn't like their pattern, so I created my own!  That is the best part about this book.  I can see how I can easily adapt the patterns to make my own creations.  Fun!!!

Cute little skirt made from 2 shirts and the yellow was a pair of sweat pant shorts.

I really wish I would have taken pictures of the shirts before hand, but one was just a fitted orange tee and the other was a regular t-shirt with the sun design over the center of the breast.

I had to add an extra seam on the back because the side seam of the orange shirt fell right alone the back side, so I just sewed a matching seam placed so it would look symmetrical.

I am in love with this skirt.  I am so totally making more of these!!!!

Next I think I want to attempt to use this pattern to make a shirt ....

I have a cute shirt with an anchor on it that would probably look really cool in this style.

Ok, as promised, here is a tutorial for the first shirt ... A Simple Scoop Top.

  1. It's a good idea to start out with a freshly ironed shirt folded in half with the print facing OUT (learned that lesson!!) 
  2. Take your measurements:  Bust and waist (right around belly button)  Take your bust measurement (example 34") divided by 4 = 8 1/2" ;  Take your waist measurement (example 27") divided by 4 = 6 3/4".  Remember your numbers!  This will give you the measurements needed to make your cuts on a folded t-shirt.  Measure from the center fold out.  Mark at the proper measurements and be sure to add 1/2" for seam allowance.
  3. Use this diagram to trace out your pattern with tailors chalk (I didn't have any, so I just went right to cutting).  Use your bust and waist measurements to know how wide to make your cuts, as noted in step 2.                                  

Arrows show direction in which you should make and use measurements gathered above.  Don't worry about being perfect.  It's jersey, it stretches.  Red line is the finished size, do not cut along that line ... be sure to allow for seam allowance.  See photo below.

Cut along the dashed lines.  The red line is the measurements, the dashed line allows for the seam allowance.  Make sure to cut the bottom hem - where the dashed line is and save the bottom hem!  You need that to make the sleeves.
       4.    Take the bottom hem and cut it twice to make two even pieces.
       5.     Cut the sleeve right down the center top.  Stop at the original arm hole seams.
        5.   Next pin and sew the side seams.  You can do this with a sewing machine or by hand.  You can sew the seam to the inside for a finished look or you can sew the seams to the outside for a more raw look.  I put my seams on the outside, since it was a rock band shirt, I thought it should have a more grundy look.

     6.    Finish the sleeves by tying each strap from the bottom hem onto each sleeve.  Wrap the strap between where you cut the sleeve and through the neck hole and tie.  

And you're done!!!!!  Have fun up cycling and salvaging all your old tees!!!!


  1. Hi Erinn, I have the same book and I love it ! I just discovered your blog through Refashion Co-op and I really like it. Keep up the good work !


  2. Awesome! I need to pull that book out again and try some new patterns, since my neighbor just gave me a bunch of old t-shirts. Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement!
    Peace! ~E