ReSew, sewing, style, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: the t-skirt

I’ve been playing around with the idea of morphing a t-shirt and skirt into one piece for a while now. I finally tried it. This is the result:

T-skirt12I’ve hung on to this skirt for several years. I love the print but the skirt just didn’t fit me quite right after Jack was born. Bummer. I saved it hoping my body would return to its former shape. No luck.

This turned out to be a pretty easy project. If you’d like to know how it was done, read on!

The TSkirt Tutorial

Here’s what you’ll need:

T-skirt1One lightweight, elastic-waist skirt. Make sure it fits comfortably around your chest and you can take it on and off over your head.

T-skirt2Mine has thin elastic around the waist.

T-skirt3One form-fitting t-shirt. This one has a bit of spandex in it.

You’ll also need thread to match your t-shirt and your skirt. (You might need one more t-shirt to get the job done. Or not. Keep reading, and then decide.)

And that’s all you need.

T-skirt4Put on the t-shirt; then put the skirt on over it, right where you want it to rest around your chest. Safety pin the front; ask a family member or friend to help you safety pin the back. (If you’ve never met your neighbors, now’s a great time to break the ice.)

I am digging the photo above. I never look busty.

T-skirt5Remove the shirt/skirt and pin well so the layers don’t shift. You can make the job easier by placing a large rotary ruler or a book in between the layers (see next photo).

Note: I inherited a “gross” of safety pins from my mom years ago. Sometimes I just want to use them so I can justify keeping them. How much is a gross, anyway? A LOT. Anyway, in the step above, regular straight pins would have worked just fine.

T-skirt6
Use thread that matches your skirt to sew around the bodice, following the existing stitching lines on the skirt waistband. My skirt had two lines of stitching, and I sewed along both of them.

At this point you can either 1) turn the piece inside out and cut away the length of the t-shirt to about 1/2" away from the seam you just sewed, or 2) leave it as is and wear your t-skirt with the full shirt underneath. I had planned to cut away the shirt length, but when I tried the piece on the spandex held in my two-baby stretch a bit. So I kept the entire t-shirt intact.

If you cut away the t-shirt length, congratulations—you have fabric to embellish your t-skirt. If you decide to leave the shirt intact, you’ll need to round up another t-shirt for embellishment. I chose this one:

T-skirt6.5Now, lets add a few details.

There are lots of ways to embellish with the t-shirt fabric or with any skirt fabric you’d like to cut from the length. This was my initial sketch of the project:

T-skirt14I decided that although I like this sketched design in theory, I wasn’t sure I would end up wearing it. So I changed my mind. Be sure to change yours too, if you like. But here’s exactly what I ended up doing.

T-skirt7Just below the skirt’s elastic waist, I sewed a 1" band of t-shirt fabric around the chest. I cut two 1"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one about 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one about 1/2" longer than the skirt back. No need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that.

Pin the back strip to the back of the skirt. Using a 1/8" seam, sew along the top of the strip. Repeat along the bottom of the strip. The strip should reach past the side seams of your skirt by about 1/4". Pin and sew the front strip to the front of the skirt in the same manner, overlapping and sewing over the back strip at beginning and end.

T-skirt15Sew a tight zigzag stitch to connect the front and back pieces together.

When I tried on the piece again I decided the skirt was a bit too long for me, so I cut away 1 1/2" in length from the bottom. To do that, I measured 1 1/2" from the bottom hem all around the skirt, making dots with a washable marker every two inches or so; then I cut along the dots with scissors. I tried it on and liked the length better.

I added a thick, doubled black border to the bottom of my t-skirt. I cut two 4"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one 1/2" longer than the skirt back. Again, no need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that. Press the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and then unfold.

T-skirt8With right sides together, align and pin one long edge of the border along the back of the skirt; sew using a 1/4" seam. Repeat to attach the front border to the front of the skirt, overlapping and sewing over the back border at beginning and end. Press the seam toward the bottom of the skirt.

T-skirt9It should end up looking sort of like this on the outside.

T-skirt10Pin the short sides of the two overlapping borders together, making sure the seam you pin is perpendicular to the border seam you just sewed. Use a tight zigzag stitch to connect the short edges of the borders. Clip any overlapping fabric on the wrong side to 1/4", if needed.

Fold the border to the wrong side of the skirt, using the fold you pressed in earlier as a guide; pin. Change the thread on your machine to match the skirt. Sew the border layer to the bottom of the skirt using a 1/8" seam.

T-skirt16When you’re done, it should look like this on the wrong side of the skirt.

T-skirt17This is how it should look on the outside.

Now, I know I’m not model material. (Reason one: I’m 39. Reason two: I wear glasses. There are more reasons, but I’ll stop at the main two.) At the same time, I love to sew things to wear. When I see what others have sewn to wear, I really like to see the project on a body; it helps me envision what it might look like on me if I make it. I think others who sew might like that too. So, a bit uncomfortably, I asked Bretty to take some pictures of me in my t-skirt.

T-skirt13I wanted to try different backgrounds to get the best picture, so we took pictures in three different places. After a while, I started to get self-conscious. I asked Bretty for inspiration.

T-skirt11Me: “Bretty, I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Brett: “I dunno. Just do something else. Look in the pot. Imagine that you love the pot.”

Me: “Okay.”

I look down into the pot.

Me: “Oooh, I love the pot!”

Click.

And that’s the end of my t-skirt story.

There are many variations for playing around with this basic idea—as many as there are skirts and t-shirts! If you make one, I would love to see it. You can upload your photos here.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here. For more refashions you can check out my book ReSew. Thanks for stopping by!

crafts, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Flowers at Your Feet!

This might sound weird, but I began a love/hate relationship with my feet when I was a little girl. Sure, I loved my feet because they were essential to getting me around. (Still are. They’re good for that.) But I hated my feet because, back then, they seemed HUGE. They were clumsy. They appeared to be growing at an alarming rate in comparison to the rest of my body. I was very self-conscious about them. For a long time, I couldn’t let that feeling go.

Then I discovered Dr. Martens.

On my 21st birthday I didn’t celebrate at the local bar. Christened the liquor store, at least? No. Not me. Instead I headed to Trolley Square with my sister, and we bought me my first pair of Docs. Black leather work boots. Eight eyelets. Almost identical to these. (I see they’re calling this style “vintage” now. Cool. Thanks, doc, for reminding me that I’m old.) Somehow, when I put on those big, clunky, tread-heavy boots, I fell in love with my feet. I wanted to show them off. Those boots sent me on a lifelong love affair I never thought I would have. A love affair with shoes. Big, clunky, tread-heavy shoes.

Fast forward. Now my closet (and the coat closet, to my husband’s discontent) is brimming with clunky-shoe bliss. Like these, my current favorite:

Shoes Not-vintage Docs thrifted from the kitchen aisle at Savers, Layton, Utah; $6.49.

Now I understand why Mr. Marten is referred to as “Dr.” Because you see, he cured me. He cured me of the hate part of the relationship I had with my feet. Now it’s just love.

Apparently however, having gloriously loud, H U L K – S I Z E shoes is no longer enough for me. Oh, no. I need to lavish even MORE attention on my feet. So I decided to stitch up this:

Flowersatyourfeet Secondhand denim on secondhand denim. Sweet!

The design was so easy to put together, I thought someone else might like to try. And if you’re like me when it comes to your feet, you just might like this little tutorial.

Flowers at Your Feet Tutorial

Here’s what you need:

Flowers Denim jeans you don’t mind cutting into (I used four different pairs, in values from light to dark). A circular template, such as thread spool. Basic sewing supplies: a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (or scissors), seam ripper, glue stick, thread to coordinate with your denim, sewing machine. A pair of pants you want to flower at your feet. And thread to match the stitches on those pants.

Start by cutting 1/2"-wide strips from each piece of denim you have. You can do this by removing the hem of one pant leg, and then cutting strips from the width. These strips will become the flower stems and grass. Start with 2-3 strips per pair, and then cut as needed from there. Then, cut a square of denim from each pair of jeans to use for flower petals, centers, and leaves. A 6" square from each pair was plenty for me.

Next, choose which pant leg you want to sew the design onto. I initially placed my design on the opposite pant leg, thinking I could keep the design loose on one pant leg while I sewed the pieces onto the other. That didn’t work out. So go ahead and place your design on the actual pant leg your want your design sewn onto.

Now for the fun part—creating your own flower patch. You can design it however you like; here are some techniques I used.

•    I cut different lengths from my 1/2"-wide strips to make stems and grass.
•    I traced circle shapes directly onto my denim with a pen, using a thread spool as a template. I cut two circles to make the flower centers; I cut eight more to make the petals for the short flower. Cut shapes just inside the drawn lines.
•    I hand drew a petal shape onto paper to make a template for the petals and leaves on the tall flower. To draw a petal, make two dots about 2 1/2" apart on a piece of paper. Draw a curved line to attach the dots on one side, then the other.

Leaf template
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just kind of like this.

•    I overlapped the grass pieces so that, when sewn with a 1/8" seam, the pant leg underneath would still be covered.
•    Remember, you can use BOTH sides of each piece of denim for even more variation in value and hue.

Flowers1
Here’s the design I ended up with. Not sewn yet.

Arrange your design however you like on your pant leg. When you are happy with your design, note where the top of the design falls on the pant leg; make a mark about 2 inches above that spot. Carefully remove your design piece by piece and place it in order on a flat surface that won’t be disturbed, like a table or a rotary mat.

Using a seam ripper, carefully unpick the inside seam of the pant leg you’ve chosen to sew your design onto. Unpick from the bottom hem to the spot you marked that notes 2" above the top of your design. Unpick the bottom hem horizontally, but only to a point where you can easily unfold the hem and separate the front pant panel from the back. Remove any loose threads.

Note: As you unpick your seam, pay attention to how the original seam was sewn. The raw edges of my pant leg were sewn with a serged (or zigzag) stitch first, and then there was a row of straight stitching beyond that. You’ll want to take note of these specifics so you can sew your pant leg neatly back together later.

Flowers2
Your unpicked seam will probably be pretty messy, threadwise.

Flowers4 I cleaned mine up quick with a bit of tape.

Now to start sewing.

Note: When you are choosing which pieces to sew on, be sure to sew pieces that make up the bottom layer of your design first. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.

Lay the pant leg on a flat surface. Dot the back of your first piece with glue stick; press it in place on the pant leg. Open up the pant leg. Using a 1/8" seam, sew around the piece. Choose your next piece and repeat.

Flowers5 In my design, I sewed the stem first, then the first layer of petals.

Flowers6 (Gratuitous close up.)

Flowers7
Then I sewed the second layer of petals.

Flowers8 Then I sewed the flower center. (Little circles are a little tricky; sew slow.)

Flowers9 The same step-by-step method goes for the short flower. To eliminate sewing a tiny circle around that tricky flower center, I used straight stitches instead.

Flowers10 (Superfluous close up.)

Now to sew the grass. Instead of sewing around all four sides of each tiny rectangle, start at the top of a blade and sew down to the pant hem. Then, lift your presser foot and pull the pant leg forward; sew the other side of the blade in place from top to bottom. Again, pull the pant leg forward; glue and press your next blade in place.

Flowers11 For each blade, use this mantra: sew, pull, sew, pull, glue.

Flowers13 A thready mess to clean up when you’re done, yes, but the sewing goes fast.

When you’ve finished sewing the vertical sides of each blade, it’s time to sew the horizontal sides. For the blade tops, start at one edge of the design and sew across the outermost blade, 1/8" from the top edge; backstitch. Pick up your presser foot and place it at the beginning of the next blade top; sew and backstitch. Repeat until all the blade tops are sewn down.

For the blade bottoms, sew a straight line across the bottom of the blades using a 1/8" seam.

Flowers14 It should look something like this when all the pieces are sewn.

Now it’s time to sew the inner seam of the pant leg back together. Did you make a mental note of how your pant leg was originally sewn? Retrieve that mental note now. After pinning the seam together, I sewed a zigzag stitch along the raw edges of the denim; then I sewed a straight stitch about 1/2" beyond the zigzag stitch. Finally, I sewed the bottom hem back in place, backstitching well to catch the original stitching where it began. For all rows of sewing I used thread that matched the stitches on my pants.

Flowers15 Inner seam, all stitched up.

Flowers16 My stitches here.

Flowers17 Where my stitches and the original stitches meet.

Wash and dry your pants by machine so the raw edges of the denim get all roughed up. Clip loose threads as needed.

Flowers18 All roughed up.

Flowers19 Excessive close up.

Flowers20 And another one.

Flowers21 Yikes, another one! But you see what I mean by "roughed up."

And now you’re done.

Whether you choose clunky shoes, funky shoes, or some skinny style in between, I hope you have fun with your flowers at your feet.

I chose my roughed-up secondhand super-chunk Mary Jane Caterpillars to roam in my garden.

Flowersatyourfeet
Cheers, crafties!