Monday, January 24, 2011

Out with the old t-shirt, in with the new summer top!

This past Sunday I had a "summer bug" and needed to create something summery before these doldrums of winter just wore me out! So (after building a snowman with my kids), I took an old t-shirt of mine and turned it into a cute summer top for my daughter! It was super easy and went really quickly! Here are the instuctions:

You'll need:
  • old t-shirt
  • scissors
  • elastic thread
  • regular thread
  • ribbon
Okay, here we go ... first, do a little online research on "shirring" fabric. I'll give you a quick breakdown here, but I watched a few videos on YouTube before I attempted this project. Here is the video that I found most helpful.

Second, find an old t-shirt in your closet that you don't want anymore. This one was a medium or a large, and was just a bit short on me:

Next, cut it right below the arm holes. This step doesn't have to be exactly perfect (one more reason to LOVE this project!) and a rotary cutter is nice, but not necessary. I actually cut the front of the top a little higher than the back - and not intentionally - but the end result is still super adorable and actually looks like I designed it that way (and only you know differently!!):

Next ... get ready to shirr the fabric! 
  • You'll hand-wind your sewing machine bobbin with the elastic thread, being careful not to stretch it too far while winding. Then just place in your machine as usual. Use regular thread on the top of the machine. I used orange on the top to match the fabric, and plain white elastic in my bobbin. 
  • Then you will want to set your sewing machine tension about as high as it goes (I cranked mine up all the way).
  • You'll also want to use the longest straight stitch that your machine allows.
  • Finally ... keep in mind that while sewing you will want to gently pull the fabric in the front to get the "stretchiness" right. I would recommend sewing on some scrap fabric first to get the feel of it before beginning (or else you'll have to rip out a few rows and start again, like I did)
I didn't mark my fabric, but used my sewing machine's foot as a guide to make my stitches about a quarter to a half inch apart:

No need to hem down the top (though you could) if you are using a t-shirt as it won't fray, and it ruffles beautifully. 

That's about it! I could have been done here, but my fabric didn't gather as much as I wanted, so I had to add some straps to ensure it didn't fall off of my little girl. If you want to add some straps, just try it on your model and pin the straps in place where you want them:

Then I used a plain old zigzag stitch (but remember to use regular thread in your bobbin and re-adjust your tension) to stitch the straps in place. Then you are finished!

After all was said and done I added a little embellishment to the front using some buttons I had in my stash ... but it's really not necessary. I love this project because it's adorable and super easy! I plan to make many, many more this summer! Time to hit some thrift stores! 

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