HAPPY NEW YEAR!! This year I decided to start working on projects that brought me the most joy, and so I went head first into a couple upcycling projects. I posted the first project on Instagram last week, you can find that below.
So I’ve been on a big upcycling kick since then, and I wanted to explore what else I could do with a shirt. I thought I’d start off with something simple and try a skirt, and let me tell you, I had so much fun turning one of my own shirts into a skirt for Abigail that I thought I would share just how easy and quick this was to do with you! This skirt features a flat front with an elastic back.
I want to make sure this tutorial is super simple and thorough especially for the Sewing Newbies and Beginners so before we dive right into it, I thought it would be a good idea to list a small “Cheat Sheet” of some common sewing lingo you’ll come across while you read through this tutorial.
CHEAT SHEET OF COMMON SEWING LINGO:
PRESS – a fancier way to say Iron.
PLACKET – the double layers of fabric that hold the buttons and buttons holes of a shirt.
SEAM ALLOWANCE – is the area between the edge and the stitching line on two (or more) pieces of material being stitched together.
ON FOLD – this means literally folding your fabric in half, and lining up the edge of your pattern piece along the fold.
MIRROR PIECES – Sometimes you will need to cut two of one piece, but want them to be mirror images of one another. The way to cut mirror pieces is to fold the fabric, lay the pattern piece on top and cut. This will result in two pieces.
SERGER – is a machine that sews finishing stitches adding a professional look to a garment.
ZIGZAG STITCH –a stitch that creates a Zig Zag pattern. Zig Zag stitching is used for finishing seam edges, stitching seams on stretch-knit fabrics, and decorative top stitching.
RIGHT SIDE – the “printed” or “pretty” side of the fabric.
PINKING SHEARS – shears with a serrated blade, used to cut a zigzag edge in fabric to prevent it from fraying.
TOP STITCH – to make a row of continuous stitches on the ride side of a garment as a decorative feature.
BASTE STITCH – using the longest stitch length on your machine make a row of continuous stitches. These stitches are meant to be removed.
GATHER – bringing fabric together so it creates a slight ruffle or bunch of fabric.
BACKSTITCH – Overlapping stitch made by starting next stitch at middle of preceding one. Your machine will have a button specifically for backstitching. Please consult your manual.
Now that we’ve brushed up on our sewing terms…LET’S UPCYCLE A SHIRT! First, gather your TOOLS:
- Adult Oxford Shirt
- Iron on Interfacing
- Sewing Machine
- Serger (Optional)
- Thread (color to match shirt)
- Measuring tape
- Fabric Scissors / Rotary Cutter
- Pinking Shears (optional)
- Long Straight Ruler / Yard Stick
- Marking Tool
- Pattern Weights
- Seam Ripper
- Iron / Ironing Board
- Painters Tape (optional)
- Elastic 1.5 inches wide
Now that you’ve gathered all your tools Let’s get started! I will try my best to walk you through the steps EXACTLY as I did them.
**DISCLAIMER** This tutorial was done with a size Medium Women’s shirt. Your finished product will vary depending on the size of the shirt and the size and measurement of your child.
SEAM ALLOWANCE WILL BE 3/8 inch.
STEP 1: Determine the length of your skirt by measuring your child from belly button to where you would like the skirt to fall. Write that down. Remember the shirt is already hemmed so you do not need to allocate any measurement for that.
STEP 2: Press your shirt to eliminate any wrinkles and folds. This is essential to achieve symmetry since we’ll be cutting the shirt in half horizontally.
STEP 3: Now that your shirt is pressed, button it up, making sure the collar is flat and lay it flat on your table or cutting mat. We are now getting ready to cut the shirt in half to create the skirt. I’m always super anxious when cutting RTW garments because if I make a mistake, I don’t have extra “fabric” to work with, as opposed to making a garment from just fabric, and as you are already aware I obsess a lot about symmetry, so my method of cutting is a little bit OCD. Below I’ll share how I do this, but if your super power is cutting straight lines across without any kind of aid, read no more and skip to STEP 4.
Once your shirt is flat on the mat, match up the ends of your shirt along any of the measured lines on your cutting mat and tape in place. This will help to eliminate any shifting of the garment as you cut.
STEP 4: Using measurement you collected in STEP 1 measure up from the MIDDLE bottom of your shirt (which is usually the longest point) upward. Mark your measurement. Here is why it’s important to do this on a mat – place your ruler/ yard stick on the mark you just made and then match up the ends of the ruler / stick to the lines on your mat. Make sure you’re following the same line across, then with your marking tool, mark a straight line across the front of the shirt. You’ve just created your cutting line.
STEP 5: Carefully cut the shirt in half. This will be your skirt piece.
STEP 6: (Optional) I wanted to treat the button placket as a faux placket so I topstitched it down on each other; following the original stitches. You can do this here if you don’t want the buttons to come undone at any point. [ I have a spirited child, so I have to do this lol ] Set aside the skirt portion here.
CONSTRUCTING FLAT FRONT with ELASTIC BACK WAISTBAND
STEP 7: Remove the sleeves from your shirt, we will cut the waistband rectangles from these. Measure the waist of your child. Determine whether you want the waist to be high or fall below the belly button. You’ll be cutting two different size rectangles here.
Below is the formula for the flat front pattern piece:
Waist measurement, divided by 2 , plus one inch = total length of rectangle by 4 inches wide.
for example: 22 inches / 2 = 11 +1 = 12 inches x 4 inches. So the flat front measurement of Abbie’s waistband will measure 11 inches long by 4 inches wide.
The formula for the elastic back pattern piece is : flat front piece + 3 inches by 4 inches.
So ended up with two rectangles measuring:
- 12 x 4 inches (front)
- 15 x 4 inches (back)
STEP 8: Fold both waistbands in half lengthwise and press. Then fold in half again, this time matching ends and press. This press is to mark the middle of your waistband; this will come in handy Step 11.
STEP 9: Cut a piece of interfacing 11 inches long by 2 inches wide, and apply to the wrong side of the bottom half of the front flat piece. (the shorter rectangle)
STEP 10:With the right sides together, stitch the side seams of the waist band together. You’ll end up with a circle.
ATTACHING WAISTBAND TO SKIRT
STEP 11: To Gather Skirt, select the longest stitch length and sew a 1/2 inch seam along the edge of the top of the skirt (the unfinished edge). BackStitch at the beginning of each section but DO NOT back stitch at the end. Be sure to leave a thread tail for each section.
After you are finished sewing each section, gently pull either the bottom or top thread of the thread tails (do not pull both, it won’t work) to gather the fabric.
Unfold the waistband and with right sides together, match up the side seams and the middle back and front of the waist band (remember we marked that in STEP 8 and the skirt with each other and pin or clip in place.
This will allow for a more even distribution of the gathers. Pull the ends of your gathering stitches and distribute your gathers evenly between the pins/clips while pinning/clipping as you go along. BE SURE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE PHOTO BELOW, you will only be attaching one layer of the waistband to the skirt.
STEP 12: Take piece to the sewing machine and stitch the waistband to the skirt. Remove any visible basting stitches here.
STEP 13: Baste stitch all around the top end (the part you didn’t sew in Step 12) of your waistband using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. This will be your guide for folding down later in STEP 15.
STEP 14: Optional fold the waistband down, and topstitch along the top part as close to the edge as possible.
STEP 15: Fold waistband down towards the inside then fold and press under using the guidelines we made in STEP 13. This will enclose the raw edges of the skirt and make for a pretty inside. Pin as you press along. (I apologize I got carried away here and forgot to take a picture, but this is what your inside should look like after)
STEP 16: To enclose the waistband, topstitch all the way around the bottom of the waistband LEAVING a 1- 2 inch opening at each end of the back of the waistband. So you”ll have TWO openings, at each end.
STEP 17: Finger feed the elastic through one of the openings. This will take some patience. With the entire length of the elastic in the casing, push one end of the elastic toward the flat front about 1/4 inched over the side seam and pin.
STEP 18: Take to the machine and stitch in the ditch at the side seams to tack elastic down.
STEP 19: Topstitch that opening closed. And do the same for the other side.
STEP 20: Give a good press, step back and enjoy your work!
This is what your insides should look like.
Here are some action shots!
I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial! I look forward to hearing your feedback and seeing your creations! Please feel free to tag me on IG: @candiceayala when you make yours. NOW GO UPCYCLE SOME PRETTY THINGS!!