Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Don't Throw It Out, Upcycle It!

Last month Kenmore asked for my biggest household challenge. This month, I am sharing how I overcame that challenge!  Kenmore is on the search for everyday genius & each month they are giving away $3000 in Kenmore gift certificates and a chance to have the best idea turned into an ad!


We all have them, t-shirts that we shouldn't wear anymore, but can't bear to get rid of.

I am going to show you how to upcycle them into a dress for your little girl or a romper for your little boy.

 Let those old t-shirts live on!

I am going to teach you how to make your own t-shirt dress.  You can do this from any old t-shirt, or even a new one.  I made a shirt for Amelia out of a shirt I bought for myself that turned out to be not so cute on me.

So, here is a tutorial for a very basic t-shirt dress.  You can make your own adjustments to make it as fancy, or plain as you want!

UpCycled T-Shirt Dress Tutorial
Materials needed:

1 t-shirt
bias tape
elastic thread (you can find this with the elastic at Joann's or Hobby Lobby)
matching thread

For this dress I used a size small t-shirt. If your shirt is larger, you will want to cut it, then sew it back together so that it measures 20 inches across.

First you need to take your shirt and fold it in half and decide where to cut.  The shirring will take up about a 1/2 an inch or so, so take that into consideration when figuring out your cutting placement.

As you can see, I am using the arm holes that were already there for the arm holes of the dress.  If you don't have them, just fold your shirt in half, go in about 3 inches and cut arm holes in a "j" shape.

Now you will want to either serge the top with a rolled hem, or just make a 1/4 inch hem at the top. 

When you have done that, it is time for the shirring.  This really is pretty easy, even if it seems a bit daunting.

First thing you want to do is hand wind your bobbin with elastic thread.  Keep your tension medium tight and wind.
My bobbin is not filled all the way, you will want to fill it up.
Now thread your machine with the elastic in your bobbin and whatever thread you want in the top.  Set your stitch length to the longest possible.

Lining up your rolled hem, or regular hem, with the edge of your presser foot, and sew.  When you get to the end, leave a long tail of thread, cut it and go again.  You will do this for as many rows as you want.  I typically do 4-6.

The back of it will look like this when you are done

Now you want to tie off your ends 5-6 times.  I tie two together, that is why I always have an even number of rows.

Repeat now for the back and it will look like this. Cute isn't it?  You're almost done now.

Cut your bias tape to 25-30 inches long.  You will want 2 of these for the ties.  Find the center of the piece you cut and pin it to the dress.

I like to make a little pleat in the center before I pin the bias tape.  I like how it makes the dress flow and look.  You can do either one.

Now you're ready to sew your ties on.

Once your ties are on, you will want to finish off the bottom.  With this particular t-shirt, I kept the hem from the actual shirt.  Sometimes you can do that, sometimes you can't.

I love the way a rolled hem looks on a knit fabric, so that is what I choose to do.  But again, if you don't have a serger, you can just make a regular hem and it will look just as cute.

After you've finished off the hem, you are done!  You can add rick rack if you want, or pockets, or whatever else you want.  But, I really like to leave them simple.

And that is how I have solved my Design/Clutter challenge.  No more shirts that I can't part with just laying around.  They are now clothes for my girls and they love them!!!

What is your Genius Tip?  Kenmore wants to know, and is giving away up to $3,000 in Gift Certificates and a chance to have the best Genius Tip turned into a TV Ad!  Visit their Facebook page and enter today!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kenmore. The opinions and text are all mine.


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