Make a Tiny T From Your Old Shirt

Make a Tiny T From Your Old Shirt

Does your baby need a shirt?! But you’re poor (because you gave birth!) or you can’t spend any more money on clothing?

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Well you’re in luck! This free pattern is super easy, like, if you can barely sew you can do it easy, I’m serious. And you can make your little lovely a shirt with an old one of yours you probably have laying around! This simple 2-piece pattern makes literally dozens of different looking shirts for boys or girls. AND YOU DO NOT NEED A SERGER. All three of these were made using one pattern and ONLY old clothing and fabric I had in my house.

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This skirt turned into…

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And two of my husband’s old shirts, unused ruffle, and felt turned into…

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I know, right?! And then this is like, a skirt, an old free t-shirt, and this really unflattering bird shirt AND some more of that old ruffle…

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Are you pumped? Let’s get started.

First download the free pattern:


FREE PATTERN FOUND HERE!

And now we need to talk about a few particulars. I know I can be long winded but it’s because I want you to succeed!

Let’s talk about sizing…

I’ve provided two sizes for you, 0-3 months and 6-12 months, but don’t feel limited! This t-shirt has what is known as a raglan sleeve. This type of sleeve is awesome for baby clothing because 1. it’s hip and 2. it doesn’t have a shoulder seam. This means that your shirt will span quite a few sizes on your baby. So I suggest printing out my pattern, taping it together, and then holding it up to some other clothing you have to check out the size, and then adjust it as necessary. Does that sound sloppy? Well that’s the beauty of this shirt. You can get pretty sloppy and it will still turn out wearable…and probably super cute. The sleeve piece is a long sleeve shirt, but obviously you can trim the sleeve wherever to make a cap sleeve, or 3/4 sleeve length.

Looking to make this shirt for a child or toddler? Print out the pattern, and then place it on a larger piece of paper. Then take a ruler and add as many inches on each side as you need. Just keep in mind the neck hole is a compilation of two body piece tops AND two OPEN sleeve tops. So don’t add too many inches to the top of the body piece or top of the sleeve piece. Also, when you adjust your sleeve make sure that the inner seam (the one that goes from neck to armpit) matches the length of the body piece seam that goes from neck to armpit.

Let’s talk about fabric…

As you rifle through your old shirts, trying to determine which will work best, look for anything with stretch. If it doesn’t stretch, it probably won’t fit over your baby’s giant head. They have GIANT HEADS! So a quilting cotton would be a no-no. But a stretch jersey or anything with spandex would be a HELL YES! But don’t swear in front of the baby. To quote Bio-Dome, what your t-shirt should want out of life is, “to die and come back as a leotard.” Most free, cheap t-shirts have SOME stretch to them. I have also used skirts to make shirts. You’re probably using the right type of fabric if it rolls at the edges instead of frays. This means it’s a knit! Huzzah!

You also may want some ribbing. This is that cute part on the sleeve or neck that makes it look finished. Like the gray ribbing on this shirt:

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You can either cut existing ribbing off the shirt (like I do for my nautical stripe T) or buy some at the fabric store. Just ask the nice ladies there where the fabric you can use for ribbing is.

A QUICK SEWING LESSON…

I promise this project is REALLY easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn some new sewing skillz. The only tricky thing about this project is the type of fabric it requires. Sewing on fabrics with stretch, or “knit” fabrics, can be frustrating…only if you don’t know these two tricks:

1. Buy a ballpoint needle for your machine. This will make things so much easier. You don’t HAVE to but, why make life harder over a $5 purchase?

2. Use your overlock foot. Your machine most likely came with one. I have a Bernina and it’s a #2 foot. Bust out your manual and figure out which foot it is. Or look it up online! Also, while your manual is out, look up which stitch to use with it.

This might sound super technical or intimidating, but honestly, I’m not a super seamstress. I just figured out how to read the manual. You can use a regular foot with a zig-zag stitch too! It will work and I have used it. The overlock foot and stitch just give things a really nice look and help your seams lay flatter.

Now that you have figured out your size, and your fabric…let’s get started. And I will apologize for the AWFUL pictures, things like this usually occur very late at night.

STEP #1 Cut out your pieces

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Here is a super cute shirt from Banana, that never fit right! I’ve kept it for years because it’s too nice to trash, but really, it makes me look like a striped beast. When cutting out your pieces, you want to retain as many finished edges as possible. This shirt has some cute ribbing at the bottom, so I put my pattern piece along the bottom. This saves me a lot of work!

**ALSO! When cutting on fabric with stretch always make sure the stretch goes along with the width of your piece. Make room for those chubby bellies!

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Next, cut out your sleeves. You’ll need two…and you will cut them on a fold. As I’ve mentioned, you can make the sleeves however long you’d like. But as you decide the length keep in mind whether you will be hemming them yourself, adding some ribbing, or leaving the edges raw. If you’re using stripes like I am, just keep moving your sleeve pieces around until the stripes are where you want them. I cut my sleeves from the existing sleeves. You’ll also need to FLIP the sleeve piece to the back side for one of the sleeves. So your sleeves don’t face the same way. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of that. If you’re using a plain color shirt, you can probably keep the original hem on the sleeves as well! Just put the bottom of your sleeve pattern piece flush with the bottom of the original sleeve.

If you will be keeping any of the original ribbing, trim that off too.

So you should have two sleeves, and two body pieces (and any ribbing you can salvage).

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STEP #2 Sew your sleeves to the front body piece

Now is the time to add any applique (like the diamond) or fancy stuff, to the front body piece. Which one is the front piece? Whichever one you’d like.

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If you are using an overlock foot, you do not leave a seam allowance. You sew right along the edge of the seam…like so…

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Do the same if you are using just a zig-zag stitch as well. Just use extra caution to make sure you are catching both pieces of fabric.

Once your front piece is as you’d like it, pin one sleeve and one body piece RIGHT sides together. This seam goes from the neck to the arm pit. Repeat this step on the other side with the other sleeve. Your shirt will look like this when you lay it flat!

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So that’s my front shirt piece, with two OPEN sleeves. Ready and waiting for the back piece to come into their lives.

STEP #3 Attach the sleeves to the back body piece

Your sleeves have an unattached side. You will be sewing this to the back body piece. With RIGHT sides together, sew one sleeve to the back body piece…when laying flat it will look like this:

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Now you can complete the circle. Attach the remaining sleeve edge to the back body piece, RIGHT sides together. When laying flat the completed pieces should look like this:

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STEP #4 Sew the Tiny T Shut

Flip your shirt inside out so the RIGHT sides are together. It only takes 2 seams to complete your shirt. I told you this was SO EASY. Pin one side of your shirt together, making sure that your armpit seams line up. Like so:

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Starting at the sleeve bottom, sew the sleeve together. When you reach the armpit, leave your needle in the down position, lift your foot, and rotate the shirt so that you get a nice corner. Drop your foot back down, and continue sewing down to the bottom of your shirt. Take care to match up the hems on the bottom of your shirt. (On an old t-shirt it usually looks like a double line)

Repeat this on the other side.

Flip your shirt inside out! It’s DONE! Well…kind of. It looks like this (unfinished sleeves and neck.) You may or may not want to move on to step 5.

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STEP #5 Decide what kind of person you are

Are you the kind of person who needs finished seams? Some people think if you go to ALL the trouble to make something, you may as well do it right. Then there are people who think, why waste time on something that hardly matters? I fall somewhere in the middle.

For THIS particular shirt I wanted the sleeves and neck to have the same ribbing as the bottom did, also, I had ribbing left over from the collar and sleeves. Not all shirts have that.

But just so you know, if you’re using a knit, it won’t fray, and if you don’t want to finish your seams you don’t have to! Gigi wore two shirts for months that didn’t have any finished seams. I just rolled the sleeves up and the bottom kind of rolled on it’s own. The neck had an 80’s look to it.

If possible, have your baby or child try the shirt on before you finish the seams, especially the neck opening, because it may be too small…in which case you should make it bigger. Or too loose! If this is the case, don’t stress out! It’s good that it fits over the head. But you might want to add ribbing to tighten things up without loosing the stretch.

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On this shirt (above) I just hemmed the sleeves by pressing a 1/4″ of the sleeve to the WRONG side of the fabric, rolling it under, and pressing it again. Then I sewed it up with a straight stitch. You can also finish the neck in this same manner. (That is what I did for the diamond shirt.) But for this shirt I left the neck with raw edges. I may or may not finish it! Because I’m wild.

However, if you’d like to add ribbing, either the store bought variety or some you hacked off an old shirt…it’s shockingly simple.

HOW TO ADD RIBBING:

RIBBING STEP #1 Measure and prepare your ribbing

FOR THE WIDTH:

If you are using OLD ribbing like I did with the stripe shirt, you most likely do not need to fold it in half. Your width will be predetermined. But if you buy NEW ribbing…like the gray ribbing on the shirt pictured above, you will need to determine what width you’d like, and then double it. Once you have your length, fold the ribbing in half lengthwise (WRONG SIDES TOGETHER) and iron it flat.

FOR THE LENGTH:
Measure your desired hole…either the neck hole, or the arm hole, on your almost finished shirt. Let’s say your sleeve opening is 6″. Then take that number and figure out 2/3 of it. So…in this case I would need 4″ of ribbing. Because 4 is 2/3 of 6…right?

With right sides together, sew your ribbing shut with the overlock or zigzag stitch.

RIBBING STEP #2 Pin your ribbing in place

You have one seam on your ribbing, you can use this to evenly measure your piece into fourths for a neck or waist opening, and halves for your sleeves. Section off the neck of the shirt in fourths as well…and match the pins. You will attach your ribbing RIGHT sides together, with the BOTTOM raw edge or edges of your ribbing matching the TOP raw edges of your hole.

You want to evenly distribute the ribbing (which is smaller than the hole, remember?) Like this:

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Also! You will want the seam on your ribbing at the back for the neck or waist opening, and ON THE BOTTOM, near the armpit for the armhole. I did not put my seams at the bottom and when Gigi wears the shirt it drives me nuts! Learn from my mistakes, here is the sleeve sectioned off incorrectly. See how my bulky seam is at the top of the sleeve? THE SHAME.

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RIBBING STEP #3 Complete your ribbing!

Sew the ribbing to the garment, starting at the back of the neck or waist, or BOTTOM of the sleeve. Stretch the ribbing as you sew so that it matches evenly with the arm, neck, or waist hole.

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AND YOU ARE DONE!!!

If you’d like to keep the shirt a tank…or use ruffle sleeves. This is all you need to do. First, finish the neck seams. Then sew the ruffle on with RIGHT SIDES together (the front of the ruffle facing the front of your shirt)

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I determined the length of the gap between pieces by measuring the top of the sleeve on another shirt. Repeat this on both sides. When sewing up the side seams you will need to sew the bottom of the ruffle together…like it is a sleeve!

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AND THAT’S IT! I PROMISE!!!

Look how much happier Ginger is now that she has some shirts!

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For more pictures also go here!

LOVE YOUR GUTS,

xoxo

Alison & her little tiny Ginger

17 Comments

  1. Taylor {Sew Much Love} 4 years ago

    Can I just say that I love the 80's influence on the shirts you made for you baby?!!? I wish I had the exact same fabric to make the exact same shirts for my daughter! Well done!

  2. Alison 4 years ago

    Thank you! I think subconsciously my love for 80's glam cannot be concealed.

  3. Steph 3 years ago

    You've GOT to see Stella's new feather shirt. It was seriously the reason I jumped out of bed when she woke up at the crack of dawn today. I put it on her right away…

    …and immediately went into spasms of giddiness.

    I'll take a picture when she wakes up from her nap.

    That was hands down the easiest and most satisfying bit of sewing I've done in, well, ever.

    Thanks for the great pattern and fun class!

  4. kaelee 3 years ago

    FINALLY made some Tiny T's
    I think I'll make a hundred more.
    posting them tomorrow!

  5. Heather 2 years ago

    Love this!
    Where in the world can I find the diamond applique ? It would be perfect for my little girl.

    Thanks
    Heather

  6. Dee 2 years ago

    sew cute! And just in time to make for my new grand-bubby. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Olivia 2 years ago

    I’m a new mom and a newbie to sewing but you rock at explaining the steps to this i can’t wait to make one!

  8. Brenda Melahn 2 years ago

    PLEASE — is it too late to get the pattern for these darling t-shirts??? Love your work and only discovered it today!

  9. Amy 1 year ago

    Hi Alison,

    Love your blog! I’ve just come across this pattern, I know it was a long time ago and you’ve probably forgotten all about it, but I saw that you had planned to add more sizes to the pattern. I had a look around but I couldn’t see that anywhere. Just wondering if you ever did? Would love have it on hand to make baby gifts when occasions arise!

    Thanks, Amy.

  10. Matt 9 months ago

    Aww that looks so cute! I have a new niece and nephew and gonna give this a go :)

  11. Adrianne 2 weeks ago

    DUDE! YOU ARE AWESOME!!! Thank you for posting this!! I am attempting to make Christmas Jammies for my 8 month old son. After two failed attempts and countless perusing through pattern catalogs I finally stumbled across your site! With a few minor alterations, I now have a shirt for my son that fits over his chubby arms and belly!I cannot wait to check out the rest! You deserve a gold star and a big ol glass o wine!

    • Author
      Alison Faulkner 2 weeks ago

      HAHAHA well thank you! I love this pattern it really can do anything! xo

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