According to the PBS documentary, T-Shirt Travels, literally tons of our discarded clothing is shipped overseas to Africa where their sale has put the local clothing manufacturing out of business. In this striking documentary, African children were shown wearing oversized t-shirts depicting M-TV and brands of beer. It made me think that there must be a way to reuse and recycle our T-Shirts in a less destructive way.
In my previous post, Your Own Gypsy Robe, I wrote about a way that I can still wear my Show T-Shirts.
But now, new (and often overpriced) t-shirts have the look of old, worn favorites so why not make your old, worn favorites into wearable fashion? Or take your husband's/boyfriend's/brother's old white t-shirts and dye them to the color you want? (See you earlier post, Do or Dye)
The first example pictured is a North Shore Animal Shelter t-shirt that we got when we adopted Maya. This was the easiest fix as it was a size Medium and I shortened the sleeves (cut at an angle with the longest part at the top of the shoulder), cut out the neck, and then cut off the hem and turned it into a belt. One of the best things about t-shirt material is that it doesn't fray, even when washed. This means hems are optional.
To make an oversized shirt into a more form fitting tee, cut off the sleeves right at the hem. Leave the bottom hem, neck, and sleeve hems intact. Then take a shirt that you like the fit of and lay it over your favorite. (see photo below) Fold the sleeves in along their hem and cut along one side of the old t-shirt about an inch outside of the line of the t-shirt on top. Fold it in half and cut the other side to match. Shorten the sleeves by cutting parallel to and in from the cut that was the seam. Make the bottom part of the sleeve the shortest. Pin the newest sleeve cut right sides together to the shoulders (over the shoulder seam) and sew (the most difficult step). Then turn the bodice right sides together and stitch up the new side seams, making sure that hems match.
Now you have remaining fabric that can be used to create your very own design. Shown here is a leaf design that I hand sewed diagonally across a purple tee, a t-shirt that my husband was getting rid of that I dyed yellow, used the above process to make it more fitted, and created a long wrap-tie from the remaining material, and my favorite, a self-dyed tee (red) that I made into a fitted tank, skipping the sleeve step, and then machine-sewed the remaining material in a design on the front and shoulders. (rock and roll under a black pinstripe sportscoat)
Now cutting up your old t-shirts isn't reserved to the fringed and beaded looks of the early 90's (Yikes! What were we thinking?). With a little imagination and minor abilities with a needle and thread, the sky's the limit.