Monday, September 5, 2016

Simple T-shirt Reconstruction

If you follow me in instagram you will likely have seen this simple T-shirt reconstruction I posted:
Slightly spooky?
 Though it's easy, I personally really like to see simple sewing tutorials. T-shirt reconstruction is actually what got me started in both sewing and Lolita fashion, actually!

I'd been reconstructing my Theater (school drama club) T-shirts and looked online for ideas and tutorials. I found the t_shirt_surgery community on livejournal, and one of the recent posts was a Lolita t-shirt surgery with links to BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT and Angelic Pretty websites!  I'd previously only known about Lolita fashion through visual kei, Mana-sama, and Moi-Meme-Moitie, but this completely different style of sweet Lolita led me to the egl community and the rest is history~

OK that had nothing to do with this post -_-;

It all started when I found this T-shirt at a night market:
Pokemon Life
 There were other Pokemon T-shirts, but I chose this one because it was embroidered rather than printed. I really love a good embroidery! I actually also have this in pink with a Pikachu silhouette instead of the Pokeball!
If only I had an embroidery machine...
*Seam ripper (or other blade for cutting stitches)
*Patterning paper (any large paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, etc.)
*Pencil/pen for tracing/drafting
*Fabric chalk/pen
*Fabric scissors
*New fabric for the sleeves
-Overlock or sewing machine


1. Cut off the sleeves.  You can either use scissors and cut off the seam allowance entirely or use a seam ripper to cut the overlocking thread and remove the sleeve while keeping the seam allowance intact.  Keep track of which side faces the front of the shirt and which is the back!  The sleeve looks nearly symmetrical, but it is not!

2. Draft a new sleeve. Place the removed sleeve on your pattern paper and trace the sleeve cap (the curve at the top.  Then, draw your sleeve how you want it to be. Make sure the add seam allowance if you cut it off in the previous step!  Do not change the width of the sleeve the top (underarm area) or it will not fit your T-shirt body any more.  Feel free to narrow or add flare to the rest of the sleeve, though!
Also make sure to label the front and back of your pattern
 3. Stitch sleeve together (USE THE PROPER NEEDLE FOR KNITS).
There are two ways to do this:
 a) Line up the underarm seams and overlock them together. (As most T-shirts are done)
b) Overlock each underarm seam and then straight-stitch them together (If you would like to add a thumb hole)

If you do not have an overlock machine, check if your sewing machine has a mock overlock stitch or a stretch sitch. If not, you can always use a zigzag stitch or just use a straightstitch. The underarm seam doesn't need to stretch,but if you are worried about the edges shedding, a zigzag will help prevent that!

Optional: Add a thumb hole.
I wanted to have a thumb hole like my Alice and the Pirate top had, so I left a gap while stitching the sleeve together. After pinning the seam allowances flat, I used a straight stitch to stitch around the opening. This prevents the seam from splitting open as well as keeps the seam allowances flat so they don't poke out through the hole.

4. Hem the sleeve opening.
If, for some reason, you have a coverstitch machine, I'm jealous and you should use that.
Most people will not have one, so the easiest mock coverstitch is to overlock the raw edge, fold it over, and make two rows of straight stitching.  This is quicker and easier of you have a double-needle on your sewing machine. I don't have that, so I just stitched twice.

5. Attach sleeves.
This should be pretty self explanatory ^u^
Place your sleeves and T-shirt right sides together (making sure the front of the sleeve is facing the front of the shirt.) Line up the sleeve cap with the shoulder seam, pin around, and stitch. An overlock is best for this, but again, you can zigzag over it a couple times, or zigzag and use a stretch or straight stitch.

Originally I wanted to add a cowl to the neckline, but ran out of fabric as this stripes fabric is actually leftover from a dress I made.

Short and simple project that can be done in just a couple of hours.  Love it!

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