Transformation may be a slightly strong word.... Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee and my experience of making my new Coco dress, I had an idea. Make do and mend, transforming an existing garment etc etc, oh and trying to do something completely free. I hit upon the idea of transforming (yes that was the word I thought of) an old, tired men's t-shirt into a women's tunic.
I have to admit that this was very nearly a contender for Craft Fail (but we all have to have them from time to time!). I also decided to try and make this on the day when my sewing machine started playing up (my twitter followers may know the story of this, you'll be happy to hear that after some surgery - I'd never seen inside a sewing machine before - it has been salvaged).
The second thing which nearly caused this to be a complete disaster was the quality of the "tired" t-shirt. Turned out to be so tired that it wasn't really fit for a charity shop (read stains and pinprick holes). But I decided to persevere.....
So, this was free. All I used was my husband's barely breathing old t-shirt and two buttons from a pack I received free with Mollie Makes magazine. Here's what I did.
I was really happy with the fit of my Coco dress (see earlier post here) so decided to use the pattern to create the shaping at the sides, therefore removing the need to add darts or anything to the already fragile fabric. I folded the t-shirt in half and pinned the front bodice pattern piece to it. I then cut around this for the side shaping and arm hole. I started the neckline in the same place as the pattern then altered it in order to fully remove the old collar. I turned the t-shirt inside out in an unsuccessful attempt to hide the stain (and because the seams looked rather more interesting on the wrong side).
I then changed my machine needle over to a ball point (for knit fabrics) and ran a tacking stitch around the neckline in an attempt to create a gather at the front to give it a little more shape. It was rather painful as the fabric was so thin.
Messy attempt at a gather! I then turned the edge under and zig zag stitched around the neckline as per Coco.
And did the same with the armholes.
I would usually have straight stitched the side seams but the fabric was moving about everywhere, and even trying to gather on a zig zag, so I stitched these together with a zig zag stitch too (while praying that my machine didn't give up the ghost before I got to the end!).
I then tried it on for size and adjusted it a little to bring it in under the arms. I did take a photo of this stage but I looked awful so will leave that one out - I'm sure you can imagine it - just try not to stab yourself in the armpit with the pins (ouch).
Once I had it adjusted I looked to embellish it.
I found this pack of buttons which I received with Mollie Makes magazine at some point last year. Toyed with the idea of using the coral ones but went for the white in the end. I stitched them on together in the centre of my (poorly executed) gather.
As with Coco, it looks a lot better on than it does on the hanger! How much I'll wear it when I know that the fabric could disintegrate at any moment, I don't know. But as it's so thin, it could be nice for a hot day!
If I decide to do something like this again I will use a better quality t-shirt, although to be fair to this one it was a good quality t-shirt when it was new, 15 years ago.... It needs to be thicker so the finished garment isn't as floppy. It would also be nice not to have to worry about putting my hand through it while sewing!
Machine related dramas aside though, it was quite fun to do and was pretty quick too. Hopefully I've inspired you to cut some of your old clothes up as well!