Slap-Dash T-Shirts

I have been sewing away these past few days and been averaging a shirt a day or so, making good headway through the big pile of knit fabrics I got on sale at Beverly's a long time ago. I was on a strict budget back then and I remember I bought 3/4 of a yard of each one, which turns out to be more than enough for a shirt. And at about $2.50 a yard you cannot complain, right? I think I could have gotten away with a half yard. But I am using the scraps to piece together sleeves and ruffles for a few more tank tops in the works, and I may even turn some of the larger ones into socks and undies.

I was thinking it would be really fun to explore shoe and undergarment making and see if I could have a completely handmade outfit by the 31st. No promises there though. Anywho... Making t-shirts seemed the obvious place for me to start since I like to wear different ones all the time and therefore need a lot of them. Also, from what little I had read on the net it seemed like one of the easiest projects. All you have to do is take one of your favorite shirts, turn it inside out, trace it, and sew it. I find it is best to not trace right next to the shirt, but leave yourself maybe 1/2 an inch all the way around. Also, be sure to leave room on the sleeves since those always seemed to turn out small for me even when the rest of the shirt fit. It may have had something to do with which direction the weave of the fabric was going, but I am not sure.
To sew the pieces together I used a zig-zag stitch with the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of the presser foot, then I went back and sewed a straight seam about 1/16 of an inch away from the zig-zag, always using the largest stitch setting. I worry about wardrobe malfunctions so I made sure the seams were sturdy, though I bet I will end up carrying a sewing kit around with me this month just to be on the safe side.

The first shirt I made came out pretty cute, but has some fit issues that are not noticeable to anyone but me. The sleeves are a bit too tight and even though I wanted the collar to lay flat, it sticks up all the way around, but it looks like I meant to do it that way so I will not bother changing it. I ended up tracing the bodice of one shirt, the sleeves of another, and then I kind of just made up the collar as I went along. I do not know why I didn't start with the simplest possible shirt design, which I ended up doing for my second shirt instead:

Number two is a much better fit through the sleeves, though still a bit on the tight side. And I just traced one of my favorite long-sleeved shirts and sewed it together and left the edges raw. It is super-comfy and I am sure I will be wearing it a ton this month.

Number three was one of the simplest shapes but the details were a little hard to sew. I traced my favorite t-shirt and decided not to do any seams at the shoulders which made it very quick to sew up. I will make another just like it but with a round neck instead of the v-neck and just leave all the edges raw, shouldn't take more than ten minutes to make. But for this one I decided to use this sweet little car trim from Japan to bind the collar and sleeves, which was kind of weird because it is not stretchy at all:

But luckily I measured correctly and the sleeves fit just right, perfectly tailored to my beefy arms, lol. The collar does not lay perfectly flat but I do not mind. And on the back I added one little box pleat in the middle of the neckband since I did not have quite enough trim to go all the way across, and it came out really cute! Then I just did a big hem on the bottom and appliqued the only two leftover scraps of the precious trim on the front. It was too expensive to waste even a little bit.

And lastly, after I finished the car shirt I found an old scrap of material my mother had given me, and it was already sewed at the sides so it must have been a shirt or most likely a nightgown in its previous life. There was something I really liked about it, so I made this cute, flouncy top with wide handmade Victorian lace for the trim and wide red satin ribbon for the straps. On the back the straps are sewn on top of the lace and the long ends of the ribbon flow down freely. I adore this top and the way it fits me, tighter at the top and then it flows away from my body. One of my best yet I'd say, though the pictures do not do it justice. Just have to wait till I take a picture of me wearing it.

So now I really need to get cracking on that cape to keep me warm. I cannot believe that day after tomorrow I will have to abandon all my comfy jeans and favorite shirts. But hopefully I will become more comfortable in my own skin and learn that it is okay to stand out a bit.
I am kind of in a panic because I realized that since I am wearing only handmade accessories as well as clothing, I really need to make myself a purse since I cannot use my backpack and tote bag I take with me every day. I also realized that since the fabrics I have been stashing to make clothes with were chosen with the idea that I could pair them with a neutral top or bottom that already exists in my closet, everything is patterned with bright colors and if I wear a handmade top and bottom at the same time I will clash so bad! So I wanted to buy some of that yummy cream or white organic cotton they sell at CVS but they only had the green left, so I got it anyhow and I will make a solid green skirt. And I got a big length of way-too-expensive black stretch cotton to make yoga pants so I can keep going to the gym this month. I almost *almost* made a pair from scraps, but going to the gym is awkward enough without having to wear Technicolor-dreamcoat-patchwork yoga pants.


  1. Kudos to you - this looks like an interesting journey you are embarking on. Your tops are so cute! I just love them. I also love your description of pieced together yoga pants... I'm looking forward to seeing how your new creations look on you! Good luck with a purse; I carry one that I bought at a craft show, the guy that makes them uses the vinyl that's used for convertible tops and puts pretty fabric on it. Very sturdy, and very cute, and it only cost me $10.00 - which I think is a bargain compared to how much purses cost in the store, especially if you compare to a company like Vera Bradley (who I love, except for the prices!) Anyhow, good luck! Your blog posts have brought a smile to my face and admiration for your cause!

  2. Thanks Mel! I am going to post about the purse tonight - it is pretty funny, wait till you read the story behind it!

  3. I found you via the Me-Made-May Flickr group. Seriously envious of your shirts! Look forward to your progress in May :)

    Silly question: I'm starting to sew knits with my sewing machine and I've had moderate success with a t-shirt, but left the edges raw. Do you sew the straight stitch on the inside or outside of the zigzag? (I assume the outside?) I have a "straight-stretch" function, but I'm worried that when I wear it, the shirt won't stretch enough and I'll hear stitches breaking :( Ha! But I suppose that's why I should carry a sewing kit, too.

    PS Before I embarked on sewing apparel, I sewed a lot of fabric purses. I had a mild obsession with Amy Butler's designs, but verypurpleperson has a free reversible bag pattern on her site I've been meaning to try. :)

  4. Anonymous5:13 PM

    gym clothes ?
    honey, that may be a bit much LOL...

  5. Ali - I will be doing a little photo tutorial for this next round of t-shirts, so look out for it!

    And yes, I will be sewing some plain black yoga pants and a plain blue shirt so I can keep going to the gym if I ever stop sewing this month!

  6. Anonymous7:20 PM

    the shirt with the red straps would look great with a plain skirt the color of the lace trim!