Thursday, November 11, 2010

T-Shirt Makeover!!!........................284 Days To GO!!!!

Well, true to Law School fashion...just as things slowed down and I thought I'd have more posting time, things sped right back up.  However, with the day off of school today in honor of Veteran's Day (thank you to all who have served or are serving!!), I figured it was a good chance to do some sewing.

This sewing project shouldn't take a long time, but it will be a fun one.  In a garage cleaning effort, my husband found a box of old clothes.  He didn't want this shirt for my FAVORITE sports team in the world: The University of Montana GRIZZLIES!!! So, I claimed it. It is football season, and I could use a long sleeve tee to wear to the games! And, I can't buy a NEW one, so, I am gonna do a makeover on this Griz shirt!!

This project will be a good example of how to make over any t-shirt that is too big. I've always done this with all of my t-shirts, especially the unisex, shapeless t-shirts you get for free at various events/jobs. 
(p.s. For some of these shots, I had to put the shirt on our pool table...and our pool table is old and not in perfect shape. That's why it looks dirty..the felt is just really uneven. Ha ha:))

Also, in this project I use a washable felt-tip pen liberally. I use this pen because I know that it will come out of the fabric I am using it on.  ALWAYS make sure to use a pen that will wash out, or use pencil, or a sewing pen or pencil.  TEST IT FIRST!!

Here's the shirt, the "before" shot.  It is a men's large:

You will notice that, as with most unisex t-shirts, there are NO side seams.

This is kind of a messy way of doing it, but it works for shirts like this that I really don't mind having a less precise look. 

1)  Turn the shirt inside out, and try to find where the side seam WOULD be. I usually hold up the arm and rotate the torso until it creases in line with the underarm seam. As shown here:

2)   Pin both side where the side seam WOULD be, based upon where you found it in step 1. (shown in next step)

3)  After the faux side seams are pinned, I carefully free-hand a line where I want to sew to take the sides in.  I just kind of know how big I am and how things will fit, so I don't measure anymore.

But, to measure for your own alteration, just try the garment on and pull the garment as tight as you want it in the front.  Measure the amount you pulled in, and divide it by 2.  After dividing, take that measurement out of each side seam. 

The free-handing is why I consider this project more "messy" than my usual work.  However, I have a lot of experience free-handing these alterations, so, if you prefer to measure these things out more precisely, please do!!

When you draw the line where you will sew, draw it on the side you will be sewing on. So, on the right side, I drew the line on top, then I flipped it over to draw it on the left side.  You'll see what I mean when you start doing it.

4)  Next, pin the fabric where the line you will be sewing on is. That ensures that it will not shift around while you follow that line. (shown in next step)

5)  Sew along the line, as pictured...

 Here's what it will look like when done (at the last minute, I decided to take a little less out towards the bottom of the shirt, as shown.  You can do it any way you like though)

6)  Trim the excess fabric off of the seams (after trying it on inside out to make sure that it fits you well)

***If you are happy with just taking it in on the sides, stop here. I decided to spice up the neckline by doing an open neck that will lead to kind of a flash-dance look.  Here's how that went.

7)  Measure how far you want the neckline from the shoulder seam, on both sides. 

8)  Draw a new neckline with your pen.  I freehanded it, but you could measure it all the way around from the original neckline. (shown in next step)

9)  Cut along the line

10) Sew close to where you trimmed the fabric, so that the neckline does not totally fray out. Plus I like the look of the stitching (you don't have to pin or anything, just make sure it is an even stitch line)

11) Wash the garment to get rid of the pen marks, and to give the garment its finished shape. Here's the "after"

I am utterly in LOVE with my "new" shirt, even more so than I thought I would be. I'm gonna wear a maroon tank top underneath, to accent the flash-dance look with school spirit (our colors are Maroon and Silver).  Here's wishing you many happy t-shirt makeovers:)


  1. We have some good friends in Missoula, Montana!
    I didn't know they were the Grizzlies, but I guess that makes sense:0)

    Love the t-shirt makeover! I'm glad you left the sleeves long; I have a thing for long-sleeve T's.
    I may have to give your technique a try!

    My friend recently asked if she could get me to hem a couple pairs of pants for her. Remembering your pants hemming tutorial, I felt confident in telling her "No problem." ;0)

  2. n8swife, what a small world!! That is so funny. Have you ever spent much time in Missoula? We really love it here. I love long sleeves too...and in this weather I just couldn't say goodbye to them! I am so glad that you may use my pants hemming tutorial, let me know how it goes! I am sure you'll do a great job!

  3. Cats are better!!! Just kidding enjoyed reading your blog. Didn't realize you were a fellow Montanan though. ..ABW in Whitehall

  4. Our friends moved to Missoula from Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. They've been back here to visit several times, but we've yet to go there. (At this stage in our lives, with school and all, we don't have an abundance of free time or money to spend traveling...) I've heard it's beautiful though; I know they just love it. Much more "wild" than central PA.

  5. This was very impressive. I admire your talent

  6. Hey, from Darby !! Saw your link on "New Dress a Day" what a surprise that you are in Missoula. Super cute makeover for your hubby's tee. I am just now trying to learn how to sew. Starting with small projects and working my way up....

  7. Hello, great to see you're in the same challenge as I am! I started around the same time as you did (264 days to go). If you want you can read about it here: Isn't it liberating not to buy?? As soon as you stop, you realize the whole fashion industry doesn't really matter. Looking good still matters though ;) Good luck and keep it up!


  8. I just made over a tee-shirt I bought for my sister for 25 cents at a thrift store. I went about it a litttle different because I was trying to make a large into a maternity size for her tiny frame. It is so cute. I used the excess to make a ruffle at the collar line. I will post some pics when I have time. I love what you did with you project though! So cute!

  9. Hi! I am really enjoying your blog so far:) I always aspired to sew, and I too have a box of clothes just awaiting alteration. The only difference is I am not good at it! My question is: I have a long-sleeved light sweater/fleecy thing that I want to alter like you did . . . however it is 100% polyester. It is smooth on the inside, and fleecy on the outside, very thin. Do I need to do anything different for the different fabric? Also, I have tried to do this before and it always seems like the seams on the sides just don't stretch, and I always end up tearing them out. Any tips?

  10. Oy, I am behind on commenting to posters! My apologies!!:)

    Thanks for all the lovely compliments, and it is great to see you Montana folks on here! What a small world. And Lisa, congrats on the same challenge. I agree with your feelings about it!

    Cassie, you always do such great projects, I'd love to see pics of that tee! Your sister must love it!

    And Katie, thanks for visiting the blog:)I think for that fabric you mentioned it depends on the amount of stretch in the fabric. If it doesn't have as much stretch, maybe do not make it as narrow, and use a small stitch length, maybe double stitch it. And to take care of non-stretching side seams, you can use a small zig zag stitch for more give, OR most machines have a stretch stitch just for sewing stretch fabrics. It depends on the machine though. If anyone else has better advice for Katie, chime in! Or Katie, if you have more questions, please let me know. I'd love to see this project, I bet it will be lovely on you!

  11. Would this idea work on a sweater? I have a black sweater that is very warm but it just hangs straight down and look "old ladish"...I want to try your idea.

  12. It depends on the knit of the sweater. If it is a large gauge knit, it will fray out. But if it a fine gauge knit, it may work, especially if you use a stretch stitch or zig zag stitch (preferably the former). Make sure to back tack and tie off all the loose ends thoroughly! Let us know how it goes!

  13. Love what you did with this tee - it has the scoop/boatneck style of my favorite l/s tee. Adding you to my BlogLovin' Feed...Cheers! -Sara