Saturday, February 25, 2012

Re-sizing an awesome T-shirt that's too large

I found this awesome t-shirt at the Goodwill for $2. Besides the nostalgia factor and having one of my favorite foods emblazoned on my chest like an eating superhero, the letters were appliqued felt. Too charming! But also, too large:

So I decided to trim it down and create a better fitting t-shirt with the help of this tutorial from Trashion.  Since it was my first time, I definitely learned a couple of things along the way.  First I turned it inside out and trimmed the sleeves off:

I used a smaller, better-fitting t-shirt as my pattern.  First thing I learned--use a t-shirt made of similar material and stretch as your pattern shirt.  The shirt I used as my pattern shirt had considerable more stretch and well, at the end, I realized I should have made bigger seam allowances since my XL shirt didn't have as much stretch.  More on this later.  Anyhoo using the pattern shirt, I trimmed down the sides following the pattern shirt seams as guidelines.  I cut a healthy 1/4" around it.  I have a long torso so I kept the original length but if I didn't I would have trimmed up the hem as well:

I pinned the sides up to get it ready for stitching it together (right sides were already together since I had turned it inside out from the beginning):

And here's the second thing I learned.  With knit fabric, one is supposed to use a zig-zag stitch rather than a straight stitch to allow for the stretch.  I really hadn't sewn knit fabric before so I did some test stitching on the scraps.  Holy cow--thank goodness I did.  I switched the dial to the zig-zag and left the stitch length at 1.  When I started sewing, as much as I tried to not stretch the material, it was getting stretched and creating a "lettuce edge" which is apparently a decorative hem finish but not good for seams inside clothing.  So I switched the stitch length to 2 and it making a much flatter seam:

Here's a close-up of the transition of the switching the stitch length from 1 to 2 and the difference in the lay of the seam for the two.  So my lesson learned--either get real familiar with your zig-zag stitch or do a test run on scraps before sewing the actual project.

Next it was time to re-size the sleeves that I cut off at the beginning.  I lined up the sleeve hems with my pattern shirt:

Then flipped over the pattern shirt at the seam so I knew where to trim down the sleeve piece:

I trimmed it out with an additional 1/4" for the seam allowance:

I stitched up the bottom of the sleeve first than aligned the armhole seam to the shirt.:

I turned the sleeve right side out and inserted it inside the shirt (rights are together).  And stitched along the armhole.  Unfortunately, I made have made a mis-step somewhere in my trimming because on one of the sleeves the amount of material between the sleeve and the shirt body did not match and I had to scrunch or mini-pleat it to make the material match up. 

And here was the last lesson I learned.  It's just a t-shirt.  This isn't a wedding dress, it's a used shirt I got at the Goodwill.  Little mistakes aren't really a big deal and just learning lessons and practice along the way.

And ta-da:  a more fitted t-shirt!

Here's a quick comparison of before and after:

Okay, so back to the first lesson--the material on this shirt wasn't nearly as loose and stretchy as my pattern shirt so it has a bit more of a strained look to it at the chest, gut, and hips.

So on to the last lesson--it's just a t-shirt.  One that fit my slimmer, middle-school daughter much better.

So some practice down and some lessons learned--definitely looking forward to re-sizing another shirt.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mad for Plaid

On a visit to Target, I was drawn to this plaid Duck Tape:

There were other colors and styles like animal prints ( and even themes like Hello Kitty) which kind of got me thinking about the craftier side of duct tape.  I remember a while back seeing posts about kids who went to their proms in duct taped outfits and currently, Duck Tape even has contests for it.  So when I got these boots on a trip to the Goodwill while visiting my mom, I realized I had a project.  They were the perfect candidate as some of the original pleather was scratched off in places:

And they ended up like this.


I googled around and came across great posts about such a project here, here, and this great tutorial by Crafting in the Rain here.  Anyhoo, I ran into one major issue: matching the plaid exactly was not possible due to the way the pattern is printed on the tape.  So I focused on syncing the broad purple lines as much as possible:

As I was using a pair of somewhat dull scissors of my mom's that got stickier as I cut more tape, I found it advantageous to work as much length as possible to prevent tearing the tape (due to cutting with dull scissors) and pattern consistency: 

Be sure to press the tape into all the wrinkles of the boot by pressing outward with a hand inside the boot and pressing the tape into the wrinkles with the other hand on the outside of the boot.  When I was able to lay the pieces evenly next to each other, it didn't look too bad:

The hard part was hitting the curves, where the tape can't just be laid side by side in rows:

So I would fill the blank spaces with shorter pieces of duct tape trying to sync the purple lines as best I could.  I also made a boundary near the bottom edge with little pieces of duct tape so that when I cut the bottom edges of the long strips roughly with the scissors, the boundary would keep the bottom edge looking clean:

Unfortunately it was really challenging to match even just the purple lines around the bottom curve, so the bottom part of the boot definitely has a more collagy look.

Well they may not be perfect, but they lend a fun accent to simple jeans, don't you think?

This project took less about two hours so I give a thumbs up on the fun plaid Duck Tape for this upcycled boot project.  Anybody else have ideas of what I else should duct tape?