This was an oversized polo shirt that I found at the Salvation Army Mega Thrift in Kalispell, Montana. I was looking for something to put the iron-on transfer on, and I liked the "pink with blue and white stripes" theme. I didn't resize this until a year or two after I made it, and despite the lovely Baby Surprise on the front, I never wore it because it was huge.
I managed, somehow, to con Kimya Dawson, the lead singer of the Moldy Peaches, into sending me a band t-shirt when I was fifteen or so, but the only size she had in stock was a 2XL. As a consolation, she signed it!
Okay, so shirt reconstruction tutorial. This is only good for shirts much bigger than what you want the final product to be. I'll work out a more universal one at some point, the problem is that I don't see a point in taking the time to resize my t-shirts that are only slightly too large.
1. Find a t-shirt that fits you well, that you'd like to model the others after.
2. Turn the big shirt inside-out, and (optionally) pin it down flat to the carpet face-down. (This really helps me keep the shirt from curling up or getting wrinkles anywhere that would make trouble when you cut it).
3. Take the small shirt, and turn it inside-out as well. Fold the sleeves inside of the shirt, and then pin it down on top of the big shirt so that the top seams are matched and shirts are centered at the neck.
(something like this:)
4. Mark around the small shirt.
5. Unpin the small shirt, and repin the front and back of the big shirt together.
5. Leaving between 1/2" and 3/4" of extra fabric around the marks, cut out the shirt along the side seams. Save the big shirt's sleeves for later.
6. Cut off the excess fabric at the bottom, leaving an inch or two extra for hemming.
7. Sew up your side seams along the marks you made with a stretch stitch. The one that looks like this: _ _ ^ _ _ works well. Be careful that you don't accidentally sew up your arm holes as well. Trim the excess.
8. Take your small shirt, and pull the sleeves back out. Line them up against the big shirt's sleeves like so: (I didn't bother drawing the rest of the small shirt because I thought it would confuse things. It's still attached to the sleeve)
9. Lifting up the small shirt and folding it over the sleeve as needed to see all the way around, trace around the small sleeve.
10. Remove the small shirt, and once again carefully repin the big shirt so the sleeve is laying perfectly flat and the front and back match. Cut out the bottom and side seam, leaving a 1/2" to 3/4" seam allowance around the marks. Don't cut the top, it's already attached up there.
11. Sew the bottoms of the sleeves back together along the mark you made. Trim the excess.
12. Turn the body of the shirt in progress inside-out. Keep the sleeves inside out. With right sides facing and matching seams, pin the sleeves to the shirt. Sew up these armhole seams and trim excess again.
Your sleeve hems are already done, since you utilized the pre-existing ones on the shirt! Now the only thing left to do is hem the bottom with the hem of your choice. My "lazy hem" is to fold up about half of the fabric that I'm going to hem, and sew it down with a straight stitch. Then I fold that over again, and run a couple of straight-stitch seams around the bottom to hold it up. If you only sew the hem down with one seam, it has a tendency to flip down and show at the bottom of the shirt. A double-needle seam is quick and handy, but it means you have to mess with your sewing machine, and you might not even have that option. Just be careful to keep the two seams an equal distance apart.
With practice, this whole process takes about fifteen minutes!
The miniskirt in these pictures started out life as a terrifically unappealing 80s cocktail dress. It had off-the-shoulder sleeves, with crinkly caterpillar straps under them to keep the dress on, far too much boning for that sort of thing, and a skirt tailored (as near as I can tell) specifically to make anyone's butt look frighteningly bubbly. I cut the bottom part off, resewed a couple of seams, added a super-easy elastic band in a casing, and left a slit for movement as well as sex appeal
. (This was all with a needle and thread, sitting on a bean bag watching the X-Files!) I'm going to use the top half in a shirt reconstruction soon.