This is easily my favorite project. I’ve made dozens of these shirts for my son. It’s so simple and it will save you a ton of money. First you’re going to need two things, a shirt you’re willing to cut up for the pattern in your child’s size or close to their size, and an adult shirt.
Now cut along the seams of the sacrificial shirt. If using a shirt that doesn’t have a side seam cut it as if it did. In this case the undershirt I used didn’t have side seams so I simply cut it straight up the sides since I was going for a simple t-shirt design.
Next you’re going to cut the adult shirt along one side seam and remove the sleeves. Leave the other side seam for more fabric to work with.
Now lay your butchered children’s shirt on top of the adult shirt and pin it. I laid mine along the collar, cause, well I’m bad at sewing collars. You could also align it along the hem so you don’t have to sew the hem. Just make sure that where ever you lay it matches with the other one for uniformity.
Make SURE when you cut it out you add enough fabric for seams to EACH PIECE you cut.
Note: as you remove the pattern store it in a ziplock bag then mark it with what’s in it. You can reuse this till you’re heart’s content. Also you can mix and match your patterns once you have the cut out. It provides endless possibilities; sleeves change length, necklines move.
Before you can sew the new shirt together you need to trim off any old seams you have. Why? Because you’re about to break your needle trying to sew through them and if you don’t it’ll make it bulky looking. So off with the seams!
After it gets a trim lay the back and front panel ‘right sides together’. In other words you’re looking at the inside of the shirt. You have no idea how many times I’ve gotten confused with the ‘wrong side’, ‘right side’ directions in books!
Anywho, it’ll look like shown.
We’ll start off easy. After you pin the panels together sew along the sides but NOT THE ARMS HOLES. You’ll want those holes later. When sewing the collar line up the collar so it’s nice and even. The shoulders don’t need to be as even as the collar does since it’ll even out when you put in the sleeves. Now this bit is IMPORTANT: if your shirt has an actual collar like this one does you want to sew it along the OUTSIDE not the inside. That way when you turn it down the stitches aren’t showing just a nice smooth seam. Please remember the shirt is INSIDE OUT at this point. So if you get all sew happy and just zip along it you’ll end up having to take those stitches out and redo it from the other side.
Now the sleeves start off easy enough. Remove the pattern (old shirt) and fold the sleeve right sides together and sew along the side. If you lined it up along the hem of the other seam you won’t have to sew a new one meaning you’ll finish faster.
This is where it gets a bit annoying… I mean tricky. Flip the sleeve right side out.
Now you’re going to take the seam you just sewed and line it up with the seam running down the side of your shirt.
Don’t worry it’s going to get more annoying. Now take that and slip it along the arm of your sewing machine and sew it. Don’t worry if you find either the sleeve or the shirt with too much fabric. If you pin the middle of the sleeve to the shoulder seam and several pins in between that it shouldn’t happen. If it does fold the excess around the other part and sew it closed.
The annoying part is making sure everything lines up and that nothing slipped and you have a hole where you didn’t want one. Once everything is sewn up pull the sleeves out. See they’re inside out now like the rest of the shirt!
Now don’t forget the hem! Assuming you cut the collar like I did you still need to fold up the hem and sew it. You don’t want all your hard work unraveling; literally. If you cut along the hem you still need to sew a collar of some kind.
For a simple collar try folding down the raw edges and creating a hem. Another way is to sew on some scrap material making a bias tape.
Hard to believe he’s wearing what used to be a men’s 3XL huh? One of the trickier parts of this one was lining up the stripes.
Grandma helped with the actual sewing. She was so amazed at how easy it was when I showed her that she’s saving old shirts she likes to trim down to her size. I’m sure she’ll be hitting thrift stores as well for oversized women’s shirts she normally would have passed up.