Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesdays Tute: Upcycled T-shirt

We love to thrift shop. My children know by now that piece of clothing or fabric in any part of a thrift store may be useful. So they rarely look at the children's clothing. They search for elements they like all over the store. During our last thrifting adventure, t-shirts were .99. So we scoured the t-shirt racks looking for prints, colors, anything we could reuse.
My son fell in love with this dog shirt and was in need of ts. How is it that regardless of how many t-shirts a boy has, it seems to never be quite enough and they are always all dirty. And, yes, I do laundry regularly.
Anyway, this t-shirt was useful. One think to look for in a t-shirt upcycle is that the "item on the shirt" is in a reasonable place after the upcylcing is done. If the t-shirt is too large the "item" will be too low on the chest for this particular upcycle. We wouldn't be able to upcycle a men's t-shirt into a boy size 5 for this project. If the t-shirt is blank, no problem, use any size you want.

T-shirt that is too large.
Sewing supplies


1. Deconstruct t-shirt at shoulder seam, armcycle, and "body" side seams (or that place if there is no seam). Do not cut the underarm seam of the sleeve or the ribbed collar. Cut off old seams and toss.

Now you have a front, back, and two sleeves.
2. Using your favorite t-shirt pattern, or the Fun and Easy Knit Top/Dress Pattern, lay the pattern pieces onto the t-shirt parts. Notice the two sleeves are stacked on top of one another to cut two at once, and the sleeve pattern lays on the folded edge of the sleeve and keeps the sleeve hem. Also, that we've folded the front and back in half down the center to reuse the collar and "item from the front of the shirt".
Be sure to place your pattern on the collar so that you don't use the "built in" seam allowance. You won't need a collar seam allowance. We lay our pattern just above the existing collar seam.
3. Sew shoulder seams.
4. Sew sleeves in, in the flat.

5. Sew entire side and underarm seam. And hem the bottom edge.
Your finished upcycle t-shirt.
My son helped me cut the shirt apart and sew it up. It took us less than 30 min. to do the entire project. He's so excited that he wore it to bed and asked if he could wear it the next day also. We'll see how long he keeps it clean. :)
We bought some t-shirts to upcycle into a dress for my daughter. I'll be blogging about that in the near future.
Also, I'm working on a blog improvement. As soon as I can learn to do this, the tutorials will be listed by photo on one page. You'll be able to click the photo and go to that tutorial. It will be so much easier than searching through pages of tutorials for just the one you're looking for.
Happy Sewing!


  1. Thanks so much! My kids just got 2 free promotional NBA t-shirts (men's XL - uuugh!) and I had no idea what to do with them. They will be so surprised to see that they get to wear their t-shirts after all :)

  2. @Otakumummy
    Thank you. Enjoy your new again tshirts.

  3. Thank you so much! My son got some old, very cool tees from his dad, and would love to wear them, spec. because they are all about old movies... now he can! The cutest toddler in the world in the coolest robocop-shirt :)


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