For those readers who are beginner seamstresses, let's go!! :)
If you haven't yet seen my tips for recycling and sewing kids clothes, you should check that out.
(Blanket apologies for the poor quality of my pictures on this post before we begin. There, got that out of the way...)
Alright, so, just like with my kids pants tutorial, I nabbed a shirt that I know fits my toddler well to use as a pattern. This shirt happens to be a bit long though, so I took that into consideration when placing it on the shirt I intended to recycle into a new shirt.
Make sure to lay everything out super flat and fold in the sleeves of your 'pattern' shirt, before carefully cutting around your pattern shirt.
Also, if the inside of your recycled shirt looks like it has more life left in it than the outside... yes, I'm guilty of doing the 'turn it around and use the wrong side of the old shirt for the right side of the new shirt' trick. *gasp* ;)
Next fold your new shirt piece in half and check that the arched notches for the sleeves are the same (trim if not).
Now fold two pieces of material in half for your sleeves. I lay my shirt piece over the two folded piece so that I can trace the same arch onto the top of the sleeves (see white chalk line).
I wanted a long sleeve shirt (summer is a long way off here!) but without enough material, I dug up some black and extended the sleeves. I also cut the neckline off of a discarded tshirt because it was still stretchy and new looking.
So, my first step was to sew the extra black length onto the sleeves. If you had enough material to make your sleeves full sized right away, obviously this step wouldn't apply.
The first thing you sew are the two shoulder seams on either sides of the neck hole (where the red lines are). Don't forget to zig zag or serge! These seams get a lot of stress.
Next, I lift what will be the front of my shirt neckline away from the back and fold it together.
And cut the neckline down a little deeper in front. This is just by guesstimate. I cut about where I have my scissors laid. (This is just the front shirt piece not the back.)
Deeper neck in front (why is this picture upside down? I don't know...)
Cut your stretchy neckline band to size (should be a bit smaller than your opening, but again, I just guesstimate)<--love that word!).
Sew neckline together in a band. If you're re-using one from a Tshirt (as I am) you will need to open the stitching first.
Fold in half for a nice looking neckline!! Yay!!! (I'm using lots of exclamation points and grinning because I hate necklines! Yay!!) :D
And pin. No really, do it.
And don't forget to stick a tag inside the fold of your neckline in the back of your shirt (you do remember which side was the back? Because if you forgot, your toddler will never forgive you!)
Sew around and zig zag or serge.
Try it on. If it doesn't fit easily over the crown of your toddler's head now, then there's no point in finishing the shirt. If it's way too big and falls down over the shoulders of your toddler now, then there's no point in finishing the shirt. Just toss it out and try again, you failure. Haha, just kidding. But seriously, try again. It's easier than anything else you could do, and you're recycling clothes anyway. It's not like there's wasted money here...
But it should fit and if it does fit (oh joy!) then top stitch around the collar to keep the seam from popping up. If you have a double needle option for your sewing machine, you could use it here for a nice finished look (I broke mine... both of them).
Please ignore the seam in my neckline in front there--naturally you should put that in back with your tag--but I ended up with two seams so it was unavoidable. Gasp! * *Mistake alert!** ;)
And it's on to sleeves!
Fold your sleeve in half and match up the fold to the shoulder seam on your shirt, right sides together.
Put a pin there.
Then go nutso and put pins all over!! No, actually, just on that curved shoulder seam. This seam can give you a bit of trickery (that's why pinning is a must) but it really is surprisingly easy.
Sew and zig zag around that bend. Repeat for other sleeve.
Lay your shirt, right sides together and sew the sides and under arm seams (where the red lines are).
And, if you positioned your pattern pieces on existing hemlines from the garments you were recycling, (as I did) then you would be done (as I am! Yay!), if not, then you now have to hem your sleeves and the bottom of your shirt... poor you. ;)
Done! My toddler thinks she is a model...
... bless her little heart.
Anyway, doesn't the shirt look nice?
Today, Donna and Annie went out and Annie dressed Donna in one of the handmade outfits I've made her recently because (as Annie said) they're way cuter than anything else she has in her drawers. That's a really good feeling, but I confess: my early attempts certainly were not the nicest things in her drawers... But I realized that little kids don't care. They wore them all the time anyway and they were so appreciative that it was good motivation for me to keep trying.
Just keep trying!