Friday, 6 July 2012

Refashion Friday Tips: How to Use T-shirts to make Vests / Camisoles /Singlets

It's Friday!!!! You know what that means? Yep, it's time for another instalment of Refashion Friday. Today I want to talk about using existing T-shirts to make the vest/camisole/singlet pattern I recently released for free download. I've made a few of these vests using old T-shirts now and it's been a lot of fun making this super-quick project out of garments that were otherwise heading to the textiles bin.

I love the idea of taking a big old T-shirt you no longer wear and making something useful from it, possibly to sleep in. Or maybe even use an old T-shirt that your partner or family member used to wear that reminds you of them or has a nice memory attached to it. I'm now wishing I hadn't chucked out my old Nirvana and Newman & Baddiel T-shirts! Anyways, on the practicalities of this project.

Once you've downloaded the pattern and instructions, it's time to select your raw material. Plain T-shirts are great for a clean simple look (particularly if you want to wear it under other garments that might be a bit sheer) but lots of fun can also be had incorporating existing prints or features into your final garment.

To illustrate this post I selected an old Quiksilver T-shirt and a grey marl T-shirt with a little pocket detail. Both T-shirts are mens garments, the red one a large and the grey one a small. At risk of stating the obvious: the larger the original garment, the easier it is to position your vest pattern pieces onto it. In fact I could only squeeze out a vest a size smaller than I would have preferred from the small grey T-shirt. It's easy to forget how slim hipped some guys can be. Even if you are a petite chica, it might be tricky to get your vest out of a particularly small or slim mens T-shirt.  

I'm sure there are plenty of equally great ways to prepare a T-shirt to recut, but I'll show you the way I've found to be quickest. I find it easier to give the T-shirt a quick press with the iron at the start so it is nice and flat. When the vest pieces have been cut, the raw edges have a tendency to curl so pressing whilst it's still in garment-form is simpler. Then I roughly remove the sleeves.

Next I cut up along both side seams.

At this point the shoulder seams and neck hole is still intact because there's no need to cut them, but you may prefer to cut along the shoulder seams and separate the front and back so you are dealing with them separately. I fold the front and back pieces in half along the centre front and centre back. This may sound easier than it sometimes is because often the fabric for the original T-shirt wasn't cut well so the hem might not lie evenly as it does in the picture below. Make sure the hem lays evenly and at a right angle to the centre front or centre back.  

When placing the front pattern piece on the front half of the T-shirt, I made sure the pocket was sitting in an appropriate position for the vest. Luckily it sat in a good position and I was also able to incorporate the original hem. You can see in the photo below that I aligned the fold line of the pattern along the bottom edge of the T-shirt because I didn't need create a new hem.

I wasn't quite so lucky when cutting out the vest from the red T-shirt. For the red T-shirt's logo to sit in a good position, the front vest pattern piece had to sit too high on the T-shirt to be able to incorporate the original garment's hem (see below). You win some, you lose some. I'd like to find another T-shirt with a big printed design and try cutting out the vest so that only part of the design ended up included in the vest. I think that would give a cool effect and really play off the fact that the vest used to be something different in a former life.

Is anyone planning on making their own version of the vest/camisole/singlet pattern this weekend? If so, what fabric or garment do you plan to use? Happy sewing lovely peops.


superheidi said...


Christina said...

I don't think I'll get to it this weekend. But I'm wondering if the fabric of ordinary cotton T-Shirts isn't getting too baggy in the end or isn't strechy enough to get such a tight fitting cami over your shoulders. Until now I've always used fabric with a little elasthane for camis, but I love the idea of using up my old big T-Shirts for this. Thanks for the pattern and inspiration!

Lenora Jane said...

This is great and such a good kick in the pants for me to get into the bin of reject tee shirts that have been sitting in my corner for ages.

As for splitting up the patterns, etc: it's totally fun to do that, especially if you can make the segments in some way relate to/comment on each of my good friends back at school, after a favorite athlete got traded, cut up the before- and after-teams' jerseys on the diagonal and made a combination one to wear around, which I always remember as one of the coolest ideas. I'm sure you could do that with all sorts of things! Cities you've lived in? Things belonging to each half of a couple? Battlin' musicians/bands?

lladybird said...


My dude actually gave me a couple of his too-small tshirts the other day. I don't really wear tshirts anymore (I mean, like, graphic or band tees, you know?), but I love me a good cami for sleepwear. I am way too excited about this; I hope I have some time this weekend to play around with the pattern!

Zoe said...

Thanks for your comments ladies!

@lladybird, good luck and have fun! Let me know how you get on please!

@Christina, yeah I hear what you're saying: dudes' T-shirts don't have an elastane content, but most should still have enough stretch quality to make a pretty decent vest, though obviously not quite as well fitted as a vest made with jersey with an elastane content. If you are concerned that your chosen T-shirt isn't stretchy enough for the task, I'd advise adding 1cm (3/8") to each side seam to give yourself an extra 4cms ease in total. Good luck!

@Lenora Jane, I LOVE your ideas for splitting up printed T-shirts! I'm keeping my eyes peeled for appropriate garments from now on...


Christine said...

Wow, this is a lovely idea! I almost never wear plain t-shirts, but I have a ton laying around my room. I may have to try this.

Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast said...

Thanks Zoe! I have a T shirt or two lying around I have been meaning to use for this. I'm such a visual learner, it's great to "see" the process happening here and get ideas for using logos, etc!

Raquel from Florida said...

Thank you soooo much!!!! I'll send you pictures of my vests!

Corinna said...

I've remade any old t-shirts into shirts/pj's/singlets for my children in the past. It makes a great snug-fitting underlayer and some are pretty cool when mix-and-matched. Now you have inspired me to remake a t-shirt (brought home from holidays by a relative) which is huge into something for myself.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for the pattern and all the good advice you give "us"....i read you always whit pleasure
Thanks a lot!!!!!!!

sorbetsurprise said...

I am loving the t-shirt refashions with your new pattern, what a great way to use it!

Buy T shirts Online said...

Thanks for a nice information you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. simply superb.Keep up your work in future.
Design A Tshirt

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...