Nov 2021
Nov 2021

Sewing Pattern

Upcycled T-Shirt Ideas Part One

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In this first half of a two-part guide, designer Vicky Taylor shows how to make a trendy two-tone double layered shirt. The effect of cutting through the first layer of fabric reveals the colour of the t-shirt underneath. The first step is to think about what sort of pattern you would like to cut from the upper shirt – if it's going to be complicated, you may benefit from finding a template or drawing it out on paper first. Define your areas and accentuate your patterns by using some hand embroidery stitches, or add beading, buttons, ribbons or embellishments of your choice.

Essentials
  1. T-shirts, two, contrasting colours
  2. Dressmaker's scissors
  3. Tailor's chalk
Dimensions List
  1. This is a custom sized project. Our guide refers to sizes 8-16.
  2. Before beginning, take the following measurements (see page 3 of the Sew Essentials Pull-Out Workbook for measuring tips) and note them down.
  3. Bust: ____
  4. Waist: ____
  5. Hips at widest point: ____
  6. Shoulder to bust: ____
  7. Bust to waist: ____

Create a funky double layered t-shirt

    1. After making sure that t-shirts are adequately proportioned to accommodate the transformation, turn them inside out so that the existing seamlines are clearly showing. All chalk marks will be made directly onto the wrong side of the garment. Note that you will be cutting through one layer of fabric at a time to create this project.

    2. Remove the sleeves and neckline. Lay the t-shirts flat, smoothing out any creases. Take a pair of sharp scissors and cut off the sleeves, neckline and hem from both t-shirts in turn, working as close to the seamline as possible. Keep trying them on together, adjusting how much the lower shirt shows beneath the upper one as you go. The finished top will have raw edges so there is no need to hem.

    3. Adjust the fit of the lower shirt. Turn it wrong sides outermost, and pin both sides in until you have achieved a comfortable fit for your body, trying it on and checking against your noted measurements. Once satisfied, work a straight machine stitch down both pinned lines. Trim the excess fabric away from the new seam so that it sits neatly.

    4. Adjust the fit of the upper shirt. Turn it wrong sides outermost. Tailor it in exactly the same way as for the lower t-shirt, pinning first, then machine stitching and trimming any excess fabric away. Make sure that you are satisfied with the way the upper shirt fits when worn over the lower shirt – it may need to be slightly looser to accommodate the extra layer.

    5. Practice your cut-out design. Put the lower shirt to one side. Before cutting a pattern into your upper t-shirt, experiment with off-cuts of the fabric to ensure you get the finish you want. Make the cuts either by using a pair of very sharp pointed scissors, or a well-sharpened craft knife, making sure to use a cutting mat to protect your work surface.

    6. Cut your chosen design into your shirt. Turn the upper t-shirt inside out so you can trace the cut-out design with tailor’s chalk without it being visible. For a neat and accurate finish, create a paper template and use it as a guide. Flowers are a particularly good choice – the ‘petals’ naturally curl up, due to the nature of the fabric. Make sure to work on the front layer of the upper shirt only.

    7. Add a border. Apply the cutting technique to the sleeves, neck and hemline. Define and accentuate the cut-out design by using hand embroidery stitches in a contrasting thread, adding beading, buttons, ribbon or any embellishment of your choice. Once you’re happy, press – making sure to avoid any buttons or beads – and put on both t-shirts, wearing the cut upper shirt over the plain lower shirt to give a twocolour effect.

    8. You can join both shirts together if you want to, to make the t-shirts form one complete garment. To do this, put on both shirts and adjust until the shoulder and side seams match up as best as possible. Pin the two together, making sure not to pin them to yourself or other garments you are wearing. Take both shirts off and using a hand stitch, work through all layers along the shoulder and side seams to join the two.

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