Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Easy embellished T-shirt to skirt, a la Alabam Chanin

My mom and her husband came over the other night. I still have my "Spring" banner hanging on our front door, and she says, "You should probably change your banner". I said, "What? to 'Hell?' "
Because that's what we get here in phoenix: Winter, Spring and Hell. No Fall. And no Summer.
It goes from pretty nice and breezy to unbearable in about 90 seconds. We're not there yet, but I feel it coming.
Summer here is so undescribable. Imagine getting burns from your car seat buckles. Not being able to breathe the air in your car if you get into it after it's been sitting in a parking lot. I was pregnant last summer, and didn't want to wear anything but a mumu. I had two black dresses that I wore every single day. My summer wardrobe this year is sadly lacking, due to my physical state last summer. 

I decided to make myself something from a pile of ever-growing knits in my sewing room.
I'll start by saying I love dying. I lerve it! I may or may not have dyed underwear. For my hubs. (He wears them as often as they are clean!!!) I probably dye once a month or so. It's a good way to cover up preschool paint stains, sweet potato baby food stains, sweaty pit stains (read a few posts ago if you want the inside scoop on that!), coffee spots, etc. Dana at MADE has an awesome how-to on dying in your sink. It's really quite easy. Whenever I have my buckets of dye out, I go through the dressers and pull anything white. I recently pilfered several of the hubs Costco tees. One went in the black (still uncut!), one went in the pink ( a cute pair of gaucho sleep pants!tutorial to follow), and one went in the brown. I pulled out the brown one this morning, and got to work!

Tee as is.
Cut carefully around sleeves, and straight across the top.
Raid scrap stash for other fabrics you think will go well. I picked piece of pretty robin's egg blue knit from an old yucky tank top. Lay across t-shirt. Imagine a beautiful abstract pattern.

Starch is my secret knit weapon. Did you know if you spray the back of your top fabric, and then press it on, it will stick? I use this trick all of the time! It's like temporary adhesive! Awesome! I sprayed the back f the blue piece, and then ironed it onto my brown shirt. I find it's better to tap the iron. It you pull the iron back and forth, your knits go all wonky.
See? Nice and smooth.
Next draw your beautiful abstract design with water or air soluble marker.
Stitch the design. I always use a ball point needle when sewing knits. Another trick I've found to walk my machine around tight curves is to go in two stitch increments, lifting my presser foot and adjusting the entire garment every two stitches. Never pull knits. They will distort. This may sound tedious, but this whole piece took maybe 15 minutes.
CAREFULLY trim around your appliqued pieces.
Next I picked a pretty cotton that went with my design. Iadded a few more whirls and swoops, starched my cotton scraps to the underside of my brown shirt, and stitched using the same "two-stitch"method.
Carefully trim the brown away from inside these last areas, leaving a reverse applique.
Isn't it pretty? Very Alabama Chanin, if I do say so myself.
Next I made a casing to accomodate 1.5 in elastic. I like thicker elastic on adult garments. It looks more professional.Carefully thread in your elastic, being sure not to twist it. It's very noticeable on thick elastic!

Try on! have 5 year old take pics of you, which you then have to edit to high heaven.
Sheesh. Help these days.
Close up of applique/reverse applique.
Finished product! Total time: approx 1 hr. Total cost: about 2 bucks.
btw, I left this skirt on all day after the photo shoot! So comfy and cute!
And, just in time for the crafterhours: Skirt Week! I adore these gals, and am so excited! 


  1. This turned out so cute, and thanks for all the tips along the way too!

  2. It just so happens that I have a coupla t-shirts that are fixin' to be a skirt- and I think I will use this tute on them! I have done the reverse applique on sweatshirts, never on a, I guess its about time! Your skirt is very cute, and if that is your flat tummy- stop stressing on it!

  3. @Ticklish Moose: Haha! Thanks, I was sucking it in for the pics. Love the baby shoes! SO sweet! That MM owl fabric pair with the damask is so yummy!

  4. Oh- thanks! I am still working on the webstore...seems like I can't get stuff made fast enough. My helper is a poodle with no opposable thumb! ha-ha.....thanks for some great tips! :)