Thursday, June 11, 2009

DIY Big Brother Hand-Me-Downs For Sister


I have a boy who is 7 and a girl who is about 2. Whenever he outgrows a really cool t-shirt, I always hold on to it for a while thinking I might put it on my daughter someday. But that wouldn't be totally fair, right? Girls like to dress girly right? Dresses and frills? LOL. I've been doing t-shirt reconstruction for myself and other custom orders through in adult sizes, so I thought, why not just turn his t-shirts into dresses for her? What I came up with is a simple Do It Yourself project to turn your own Big Brother hand-me-downs into cute recreations for Little Sister.

First, pick your shirt, turn it inside out and lay it on a flat surface. Cut out the neck and the sleeves, making sure to remove the seams.

You'll want to trim the shirt to fit across the chest and slightly flare out at the bottom. You'll have to establish the armhole size by where you begin to sew the sides together.
I have a machine that does an overlock stitch that allows for stretching afterwards. If you don't have a machine like this, a zig-zag stitch will also work. Be sure to reinforce the zig-zag stitches so they don't come loose.

Laying the shirt face down, cut straight across the back from one seam to the other.
Flip the loose flap over and lay flat.
Cut two straight strips the length of the flap. You can adjust the length if needed.

On regular sewing machine, use widest straight stitch and sew along the front neckline.
Grab one thread and wrap securely around your finger.

Pull the thread tight as you gather the fabric along the center of the neckline.

Repeat the same process on the back of the shirt.

Starting at one end of the straps, measure along both the neckline and back.

Select a fabric for the trim. You'll want this to be very stretchy. Some fabrics stretch in certain directions. Make sure to test your fabric's stretch before cutting.

Lay out your measuring tape and stretch the trim fabric to the shirt's measurements. Mark the length, let the fabric relax and cut. You'll want these to be about 2 inches wide.
The strips will be shorter than the shirt measurements, but as long as they can stretch comfortably to the desired length, they are right.

Fold the strips over facing the nice side of the fabric out. Align the trim over the front of the shirt strap.

Get the stitch established and begin to put more tension on your trim fabric, while keeping the edge in line with the t-shirt fabric as you sew. The tighter you pull the trim during this process, the more snug the dress will fit.

Repeat the process on the other side.

You may want to try it on your girl at this point to see how long the neck should be. Once you determine where, sew the ends together and reinforce if necessary. Trim any excess fabric. If you want to get creative with the bottom, you can either add a stretchy band, or a ruffle, but I chose to leave this one plain.

This is a simple process, but for those without the right tools for the job, it can be a pain. If you like the idea of having this done, but can't forsee doing it yourself, I offer t-shirt reconstruction services. For the above process, you would send me a package of t-shirts and I'd reconstruct them into girl's dresses, starting at $5 each.

Please see my shop at and convo me for details.