Transforming a tee take two

As I mentioned in a previous post, Kate from fabrickated is currently running a sewalong to transform a regular old t- shirt into something a bit different using fabric manipulation techniques. I did my first transformation here, but felt I had at least one more in me, so set about finding an appropriate t-shirt. I couldn’t find anything in any op shops I visited so turned to Archie’s wardrobe, thinking there may be a less than pristine one lurking in there. I found half a dozen dead t-shirts, so happily helped myself to one or two, please don’t tell him!

First of all I scoured them with sodium carbonate as they were pretty yellowed, I think from sunscreen, and then I pulled and tweaked and decided to do two little flowers. I tried on the t-shirt and marked it to make sure I didn’t finish up with a flower where I didn’t want it, and then just pulled up a couple of tufts of fabric and tied them with strong cotton. It was a bit like preparing for shibori dyeing. I then manipulated the tufts into little flowers and sewed them down.


I cut off the neckband and took off the sleeves. I put a little tuck in the back neck to take some of the width out of the back. I didn’t want to just leave the armholes unfinished as with the first t-shirt, so I cut strips of fabric from the sleeves and sewed it around the armholes, leaving the underarms open. I then threaded some white tape into the channels formed by the strips of fabric, and tied the tape into little bows. This meant that I didn’t have the large armhole situation that I had with the black one.


I cut a longer piece of fabric from another t-shirt and added it as a neck binding.

Whilst all this was going on I noticed that there were still a couple of stains on the fabric. I had thought about dyeing the top with avocado, but thought I might need something stronger to cover the stain, so I dyed it with a half strength red synthetic dye, which turned the fabric hottish pink. Unfortunately, whilst the t-shirt was cotton, the thread that the shirt was sewn with was polyester, so this stayed pure white. I unpicked some of my topstitching and replaced it with pink thread. I decided to leave the chain stitching at the shoulders and the coverstitching on the bottom.


I really liked this t-shirt and love its new colour, but I wanted to try something a little different, so selected another t-shirt and this time I took the two sleeves left over from the black t-shirt transformation, and cut a couple of circles which I sewed to the underside of the front of the shirt. I then cut a cross through both layers of each circle (the first two photos in this series are from me practicing the technique)

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 6.15.01 pm

I took the fabric up into a tuft and wound strong thread round the base of it as with the previous t-shirt, and opened out the cut petals and sewed them down.


I treated the armholes the same way as for the pink tee-shirt, but this time put the bow at the top. I also took a wedge of fabric from the shoulder so they are not quite as wide. DSC01891

I couldn’t find a single photo that showed the bow at the top, as it seems to slip round to the back. This photo does show how the armhole can be made much smaller using this technique.DSC01900

To neaten the centres of my petals I sewed a little button on. I rather like the effect but it can’t be seen from a distance. This photo also shows the bow at the top of the armhole.IMG_0284

I’m not sure that my t-shirts are really up to snuff in terms of the sewalong, but I am finding it interesting, and they are definitely wearable. Kate has mentioned that it’s hard to stop them looking like a man’s t-shirt and I think that is the biggest challenge.

Since I wrote this post Archie has returned home briefly and noticed the gaps in his wardrobe. Instead of getting upset he gave me another ten t-shirts! Not sure that I’ve got that many transformations in me, but I have got some ideas for them. I was amused by the fact that I had found a shirt which was full of holes and I freaked out. Moths? Silverfish? I planted masses of moth and silverfish deterrents in his wardrobe and showed him the shirt when he got home. The conversation went like this: “Muuum! This shirt is supposed to be full of holes, it’s a distressed look”. Ahh! He gave it to me to play with, but it’s full of holes!


2 thoughts on “Transforming a tee take two

  1. Ha! Ha! What a fun mum-and-son piece of conversation – exactly what I could have with Benjamin! I love the work in progress aspect of your tees transformation, perfecting your ideas over the process. The white and black one is definitely my favorite. No one could tell it was made of men’s tees, so you ought to be proud of your tee manipulation experiment Sue!

Leave a Reply