Sunday, June 11, 2017

T-Shirt to Skirt

The older I get, the more I realize my Grandmother had the right idea.  She didn't go clothes shopping.  I guess she did some mail-order for undergarments and socks, but for her outerwear, she had this pattern for a dress, and she made them herself.  Depending on what the dress was to be used for, she might add a fancy lace collar or some big apron-style pockets. 

When I was little, I never really noticed it.  It's only after thinking about all of her dresses (and she had a lot of them) that I realized they were all the same ... except for some small embellishments.

And she used different fabrics for different times of year.  Like she had this really, lovely, heavy polyester dress with a color and gold buttons that she wore to church in the winter.  She had a very light weight cotton in a pastel stripped pattern that she wore at home on her farm during the summer.   She snapped a lot of peas in that dress.

In my quest to find my style I've gone through a lot of clothes - most of which are ill-fitting and not terribly flattering.  I just don't have the body type that today's clothes are made for. 

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the Little Brown Dress project.  A Seattle woman (Alex Martin) made a brown dress, which she wore for an entire year.  That's it.  The Brown Dress was her uniform for that entire year (she actually had two dresses ... maybe more ... but that brown dress, paired with sweaters, leggings, and other accessories, was all she wore).  I guess some people would get twitchy thinking about wearing the same thing every. single. day, but I was intrigued. 

How simple would it be to get up every day and just grab your clothes, without having to worry about what one is going to wear?  It's always the same ... with, perhaps, a few embellishments. 

While I haven't (and won't) take it to the extreme that Alex Martin did, I do really like the idea of having just a very few articles of clothing that fit well, are flattering to my shape and size, and are comfortable.

I bought this pattern two years ago.  I actually bought it for the pants, because I was looking for something that would be flowing and comfortable, and this pattern looked easy enough for my limited sewing skill. It took me almost two months to finally make something.  I decided on the skirt, which I loved, but it was a bit more snug than I liked.  The cotton fabric doesn't have any give.

Then, I decided to make a second skirt out a couple of my old shirts.  Upcycling ... you know?  

I love that skirt.  I dyed it (poorly), and it ended up being this crazy-looking batik pattern.  It also developed these little holes, which polo-style shirts will do with age. 

I wear it as a work-around-the-house skirt.  It's comfortable and flowing. 

I made a third skirt with that same pattern not long ago.  This one is my favorite, AND I can wear it places.  I've gotten a few complements on it and more than one request to make one for someone else. 

Today, it's hot here.  My work-at-home skirt is in the wash.  I try not to wear my go-out-in-public clothes when I might be in the garden or just lounging around the house. 

I don't wear shorts.  It's too hot for jeans or sweatpants.

So, I decided to pull out my pattern and dig through my old clothes and scrap material box and see what I could make.  

I found this extra large men's shirt.  I'm not sure where it came from, but since it was in the bin, I figured it probably wasn't something Deus Ex Machina had been missing from his closet.    

I cut off the arms, and then, using my skirt pattern as a guide, I cut across the shirt using the bottom half (from the pectoral area and down) for the skirt body.  The sleeves are the waistband.  The leftovers (and there wasn't much) are in the rag-bag.  If I end up making enough of these skirts, I might start saving the excess for reusable menstrual pads - although at risk of sharing a little too much, I shouldn't need them much longer ;)). 
If I get really ambitious, maybe I could make the scraps into a rug, or a bowl, or a quilt.  The possibilities are only limited by my own imagination ... and whether or not my family can be convinced to use cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.
What's really cool about having used this t-shirt is that I didn't have to do any hemming, and so from start to finish (including taking a shower), it took about an hour. 

It's a cute little skirt.  It's one of those pieces of clothing that can be appropriate at any function depending on the shirt and shoes.  With just my camisole and a pair of flip-flops, it's good for working in the yard or lounging in the hammock.  Paired with some leggings and a fitted tee-shirt, it's a nice casual wear for shopping or hanging out with my daughters.  If I wanted to be fancier, I could add a suit coat or a nice cardigan.  It's just one of those styles that can be dressed up or down.

And to think, only a few short hours ago, it was a red t-shirt, hiding in the bottom of my scrap material bin.

I'm thinking, maybe, I should go find some more men's t-shirts.  Extra large.  With no logos.   


  1. Doesn't it make you feel clever? I used to sew a lot-- clothes til my 30's, curtains-- now I mostly mend stuff. I tried teaching my kids how to sew , but it did not take. Now in their 20's, they are very interested in sewing, knitting, canning. But they don't live here! I have enough clothes for the rest of my life, I think, and have been deaccessioning. I wish I had some of the things I made in the 70's! Cute skirt!

    1. It does feel kind of good to be able to make something for myself. What feels even better, though, is that this same skirt would have cost $50 or more. I did it for free, and it took less than an hour from start to finish.

      My plan is to find some men's extra large t-shirts (probably at the Goodwill by the Pound warehouse) and try making a pair of pants. :)

  2. That's a good skill to have, turning old clothes into something else other than just a rag, and a nice pattern, too. The skirt looks deep rose pink on my screen.

    1. It's actually red. Not my favorite color, but it was the one I had in my stash :).

  3. I really like that idea of having one basic pattern and adding a few embellishments. I'm still looking for the best skirt pattern. I've made several skirts (and dresses) over the past two years, using up a lot of my fabric stash. I work a lot in the garden and need sturdy clothes with pockets. Love the color of your dress. :)

    1. I looked for a while to find the best pattern for myself. It's a process ;).