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  • Writer's pictureLonda

T-Shirt Re-Birth Creative Sewing with Londa

I sew….creatively to challenge myself.  For an experience.  To conquer and achieve a garment that is ONE-OF-A-KIND!

I was delighted to find the Yada Sisterhood – a wonderful monthly, uplifting and spiritual Christian experience with other women here in my new town of Jackson, TN.  At my first meeting (yes, I went in alone and was totally welcomed…) I just had to ‘invest’ in some ‘fabric’ to have fun with …. some day.

Well, when I learned that the ‘colors to wear’ for October would be Pink and Black, plus needing some ‘creative sanity sewing time, PLUS needing a new garment to show/teach with at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI, these 2 T’s and this project hopped to the top of the pile!

Here are the 2 T-shirts I purchased.  Get your creative spirit in gear here – think of some T’s you might have (or need to purchase) of your favorite sport team, cause…….


I should have realized it when purchasing, but when I pulled them out, it was clear that the ‘pink’s would NOT work together.  The upper one is a cool undertone pink, and the lower is a warm (coral) undertone pink.  The lower one will perhaps become a lighter weight T-Shirt, combined with another T for spring/summer.  LESSON:  You do NOT have to use what you start out thinking you should/or that you want to use.  


To sew this way, you absolutely MUST have a FABRIC STASH!  That is a rule that canNOT be broken!  ‘Diving’ into my black box of knits, I found remnants of this great hot pink sprinkled black ruffle fabric, and this eeensy weensy black knit dress, AND a good piece of black Sophia – a great ponte knit.  For some ‘jazz’, I eyed one of my STRIPE collection – this black and white.  While I personally never wear all black and white, for a trim – it’s OK.

LESSON:  Dive in – get STARTED!  Test ideas, and let yourself CUT into your ‘stuff’!  LESSON:  Always cut larger than you think you might want/need.  


1st:  I knew I wouldn’t want a short sleeve jacket or top – certainly not the T-shirt sleeve, so off they came.  Fabric?  Yep – opened up  = FABRIC!   Safe, EASY step.  Gets the scissors working.

2nd:  Cut ribbing off the T-shirt WITH leaving a seam allowance.  I leave in a circle for the time being.  I didn’t actually used this ribbing in this project, but I sure SAVED IT in my PINK Stash Box.


3rd:  Cut out any ‘words’ or images you might want to use.  Just CUT – remember to go LARGER.  Not my ‘artful’ cutting of the words:  Pray-Obey-Love-Repeat.  


OK – so I have ‘stuff’ cut out of the T’s.  What should I use for the jacket base – the Back?  I had started to think I wanted a darker, more ‘fall/winter’ jacket than a lightweight jacket.  Another DIVE into the Black Knit Box reveals this TEENY knit dress.  See how tiny it is?  That’s my (big) foot next to it.  However, it IS big enough for the Back of the jacket.  So – I cut it out.  See 2nd photo below.  HOWEVER, I made a MISTAKE that I later needed to add back in – I cut the armhole correctly – as I knew I would insert sleeves rather than the cap sleeve silhouette.  But, I also cut the lower neckline – WHY?  Dunno – it got stitched back in and covered up later on.  LESSON:  You can fix most ANY ‘mistake’ when you sew!


There was not enough of the sweater dress from which to cut the jacket FRONT, so I found a piece of ponte knit  – a double knit, so with some substantial body.  Mine was Sophia, a poly/rayon/lycra for the Front. Using my Terrific T Knit Top pattern as the ‘base’ and directions from my Twin Set Tweaks Pattern .  At this point, I was not sure what I’d be doing for the center front, so I added 2.5″ all the way up the center front. LESSON:  ALWAYS cut it larger than you think you might need at edges where design might be involved.   See in the 2nd photo, how the ‘word piece’ could look if it were put in the right shoulder area.  Hummmm, not sure I liked that then, but I did not have to commit to the ’embellishment’ at this point, so I went ahead and cut out the front, adding to the center front as already mentioned.


Next, time to audition design options.  See pics below, and my ‘thinking’ process………..


I realized that I did have enough length of the ruffle fabric to go all the way around the fronts AND the back.  Would I want ruffles going horizontally across my derriere?  I think not……..but in the fronts, YES!


Using the steps as taught in my Twin Set Tweaks Talking Pattern Booklet (no pattern pieces included, but wonderful steps for how to achieve many different looks on a basic knit top pattern), I removed the lower front piece as you see int he photo on the right.  The cascading piece (ruffled in this case) is cut the length of the horizontal PLUS the lengthwise cut, and inserted.  See the effect in the striped jacket on the left in the photograph.

Back to designing with the ‘words, how about if I put just the large Cross on the right chest and the smaller ‘Yada’ words and scripture on the right hand chest area? Hmmmm – didn’t like that either, so onward I push – as the center front still needed to be designed.  The thought crosses my mind, to use the stripe as a trim, AND strips of the pink, and put the words on the back – NOT using all the cut pieces from the T-Shirt?  Ultimately – that is what I decided.  However, I think showing the ‘audition steps’ is good to share to help you understand this creative process.


The ruffle fabric – needs to be used in other places on the garment, for sure – so I started ‘playing’ with that.  The question soon surfaced, should the ruffles face inwards or outwards around a V center front neckline?  At first, I thought the ruffle edge should ‘finish’ the center front edges.  However, that would only ‘flop’ around – especially at the back neck.  At that point, I decided to stitch the ruffles down so that they wouldn’t ‘flop’.  See in the 3rd photograph, that the ruffles are edged outwards.  Hmmmm I thought, if I did that, I could bind the center front and back neck edges.  I LIKED that idea, so I proceeded.  LESSON:  Fabrics need to be used more than one place on a garment – this is the design principle of ‘rhythm’ or repetition to make the eye flow over a garment, around to all the parts.  


More ‘Auditioning’ – use of the vertical stripe of the crossgrain stripe knit.  Single knits curl – could be cool – so I cut some – about 1″ wide, pulled them to make curl, and then started ‘playing’.  YES! I then stitched the lower front cascade ruffle pieces in, and ‘trimmed’ with these curled pieces on top.

In keeping with the ‘rhythm’ idea, I knew at this point that I would use the Word Piece just on the back.  At this point, I only then had pink on the back – not good.  To bring it to the front, I decided to bind the center front and back neck edges, and to cut strips that would curl as well – see where I added the pink on the sleeve?


From the picture below of the final back, you can see that I used both the stripe AND a strip of the pink to finish off the word piece that I stitched to the jacket back.  If you look closely, you can see that I also found darting the back in two side darts, helped it fit closer and in a more flattering manner.  Note also, the ‘ties’ that finish off the curled bindings.  Note, also, the repeat of the ruffle effect for the sleeve bottoms, and the same trim.  

T-Shirt Re-Birth

A bit more about ‘Yada’.  This is a Hebrew word meaning ‘to know intimately by experience’.   I first became familiar with it when reading the wonderful series by Dave & Neta Jackson.  I REALLY recommend this book series.  In it you will see firsthand how God intends for us to walk with each other through life with faith in His son, Jesus.  Click HERE to read more about this precious book series.  


I LOVE my new ‘Yada’ Jacket!  Can’t wait to wear it for the October meeting.  I will now lay awake some considering ideas for the other T-Shirt.  Also – new to TN, and becoming aware of the University of Tennessee ‘Volunteers’ – orange and white – I will definitely be creating some jackets to show that I am now a Tennessee resident – and proud of it!  I hope that this Blog Post has led you to want to be creative in your sewing!

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”  

Mary Lou Cook

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