T-Shirt Recycled Skirt

Completed t-shirt skirt - a full skirt with a wide ruffled hem, made entirely from unwanted t-shirts!

Completed t-shirt skirt – a full skirt with a wide ruffled hem, made entirely from unwanted t-shirts!

A while ago I was given a whole bunch of t-shirts… they were all new, made of nice soft material – but they all had a horrible, ugly logo on them that I would never wear (not that I wear a lot of t-shirts as it is…). The colour was great though – a nice rich brown with more of a red undertone than a yellow undertone, which I thought would work really well with a Steampunk wardrobe/costume. Since I had so many t-shirts, I used one for a bag… and then the rest became this skirt…

Pattern (sort of….)

I had 7 shirts to work from, so I could get a LOT of volume in this skirt – you don’t need that many by far (I’m plus-sized). 3-4 shirts would be enough for a lot of sizes, depending on how much volume you want, and if you can use the reverse of the shirt or if the logo is too visible. For mine, the logo was way too visible, so that part of the shirt was discarded.

Step one - what to do with a bunch of logo t-shirts.. make a skirt!

Step one – what to do with a bunch of logo t-shirts.. make a skirt!

For the first steps I removed the sleeves and rib-knit collar.

Then I cut up the side-seams. (Your t-shirt may or may not have side seams.. adjust as needed!)

Then I opened the sleeves up….

From the front of the shirt the logo was discarded, and I cut a rectangle from above the logo, one each from each of the sleeves, and two from the belly area of the shirt. (The shaded out part of my super-quick sketch are discarded fabric areas.)

From the back of the shirt I cut a wedge-shaped piece of fabric. You can do this straight, but I find that if I want a wide hem, having a tapered shape gives a better look; less gathering at the waist.


Step two - what to do with a bunch of logo t-shirts.. make a skirt!

Step two – what to do with a bunch of logo t-shirts.. make a skirt!

All those little rectangles (I had 20 of them) were sewn together on the short ends, and eventually gathered all up into about 6-8 feet (I didn’t measure) of ruffled fabric… this is for the hem… I used a ruffler for my sewing machine to make this really fast….

6 of the wedges from the back of the shirts were sewn together to create the body of the skirt…

… while the remaining wedge I set aside.. and later cut up into three longer rectangles that would become the waistband. (If I’d thought of it, I could have just cut them out to begin with… but I was thinking of doing something else at first…)

After gathering the waist of the skirt using clear elastic, I attached the waistband, and ran waistband elastic through the channel, sewed it closed, and did  a little bit of top-stitching to secure the elastic.

MakeASteampunkSkirtFromTshirtsThe finished result is a  very full skirt with a big wide ruffle of fabric at the hem, giving it even more volume!

On the left is a Pinterest-friendly version of the instructions in case you want to Pin it!

A (twisted) Mad Hatter’s Hat construction

Taping the pattern to the buckram

Taping the pattern to the buckram

Once I had the pattern for my “twisted” Mad Hatter’s hat, it was time to get started on cutting it out and constructing it!

It might be a good idea to cut everything out at once, but I didn’t… partially because it was really an experiment, and I knew that things might change between the pattern drafting and the final result.

Cutting out the buckram

Instead of trying to pin into the buckram, I used tape. This means I could trace around the paper pattern with a pencil, without having to fuss around with trying to get pins through the tough material. I also transfered my centre front (CF) and centre back (CB) marks with pencil onto the buckram too. Since I’d be fully covering the buckram with solid, dark fabric, I didn’t have to worry about the marks showing through to the final product.

Constructing the Pillbox hat

The steps for constructing the Pillbox hat part of this hat included:

  1. Sewing together the Pillbox hat band by hand. (I used binder clips to hold these pieces together, and then taped them before stitching. This works better than trying to use pins.)
  2. Wiring the top edge of the Pillbox hat band
  3. Clipping the curved edge of the Pillbox hat tip to the seam line (in the photo I’ve actually sewn along the seam line so it pops out) so that the seam allowance will fold down
  4. Taping the tip down onto the band to fit it.  This works a lot better than trying to pin the two pattern pieces together.
  5. Hand-sewing the tip to the band, covering the wire.
  6. Hand-sewing a large oval of stretchy black panne velvet to the tip of the hat. The band will be covered, but the large seam allowance goes well down the sides of the band. The stretchy fabric allows the fabric to smoothly cover the curves without needing much gathering along the sides.

Stay tuned – I have a quick demonstration of how to wire buckram coming in an upcoming post, and then I’ll continue with the next steps in constructing this hat!

A (twisted) Mad Hatter’s Hat Pattern

Quick concept sketch for my twisted mad hatter's hat.

Quick concept sketch for my twisted mad hatter’s hat.

Inspired by the figures of polymer clay artist Nicole West, I started off with this hat with a concept sketch. Honestly, the sketch wasn’t much at all – just something to keep me on track. I wanted to do a top-hat, but without a proper block this wouldn’t really work, so instead I would go with a Wellington design – similar to the classic Mad Hatter’s hat.

The Wellington is one of several kinds of top hats, but lacks the hourglass shape – instead it has a “V” shape, having a larger tip than the headband. You might remember the miniature Wellington I made a while back – before I took the millinery class.

The pattern

With the open tip, I knew that this hat would lack some integrity, plus if I wanted to have something sitting inside the hat (I was thinking of either making my own March Hare or White Rabbit, or perhaps buying one of the Cheshire Cats from the Disney store) I would need to have it sit on something other than my head.  With this in mind, I decided to have an internal Pillbox hat inside the Wellington. This would give the hat the structure it would need, would let it sit properly on my head, and would give the critter inside somewhere to sit.

This means I’d need:

  • A Pillbox band
  • A Pillbox tip
  • A Wellington band
  • A Wellington tip
  • A Wellington brim

I’ve sketched up a quick illustration kind of what the pattern pieces look like. This is so TOTALLY not to scale, so if you want to make your own, you’ll need to draft the pattern yourself, based on your measurements, the desired height of your hat, and the desired width of the top of your Wellington, along with the width of your brim.

Open Tip Wellington hat pattern

Open Tip Wellington hat pattern

In the above illustration, the first oval is the Pillbox tip. The second is the Wellington tip, and the open oval is the brim of the Wellington.  The long rectangle is the Pillbox band, while the curved shape represents the band for the Wellington.

The letters indicate which areas are going to match up with others, so, A-B is half the head size, C-D is half the size of the Wellington tip. The Pillbox and Wellington band heights are your choice – I originally made the pattern for the Wellington band about 4″ taller, tried on the paper pattern, and then trimmed it down.

Stay tuned, soon I’ll show you some of the construction details for this hat. Keep following the Mad Hatter`s Tea Party category for all of the upcoming posts!


June 2014 update

This post has been getting a LOT of attention from my friends over at Pinterest – but I’ve noticed a few people have pinned the pattern as a top-hat pattern… Just to clarify, if you use the bottom curved piece, plus the middle large oval, plus the brim, you’ll get a Wellington-style top hat – if you want one with straight sides, you’ll use the straight band, smaller oval tip, and the same brim. If you use the pattern – please post a comment and share your results!

Another costume party

Anubis costume sketch

Anubis costume sketch

You might remember that last year I asked for inspiration for a masquerade ball and ended up settling with an Anubis costume (thanks to Cherry for reminding me about the posts I’d forgotten about!)

Well, this year I have another costume party to attend, and I’m looking for ideas.  I started following Lis Kester on Pinterest, and frankly, I’m inspired by EVERY. SINGLE. THING. she has pinned, so I suspect I might just be using her inspiration boards as a jumping off point… but – what are YOUR ideas?

What costume are you dying to make? Where do you get ideas and inspiration?

Have any great links or Pinterest boards I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!

Reality check

The only downside of this costume party – I’m working it.  This means that I need a costume that is easy to put on by myself, easy to transport, easy to sit in, easy to carry heavy boxes in, and that is weather-friendly.  I’m not asking too much, am I?