Thursday, January 31, 2013

Faux Layered T-Shirt - Mini Tutorial



See, I have this problem.  The older I get, the more "old-lady-ish" my upper arms get.  And I no longer wear sleeveless or even short-sleeved shirts.  It seems that most of the cute t-shirts that are made these days are made with very short sleeves, and even "capped" sleeves.  They don't work for me, so I finally decided to do something about it.  Once I figured it out, I thought I'd share what I learned with you.

Before
After


If you have t-shirts with too- short sleeves, you can make them longer by adding faux layered sleeves.  Most of us have old t-shirts that we don't wear anymore ... let's cannibalize them for parts!

  First, measure the diameter of the too-short t-shirt sleeve hem (“target sleeve”).  Lay the sleeve flat and measure straight along the sleeve hem. 


From an existing sleeve of a discarded shirt:  cut it off at a point that closely matches the diameter measurement you’ve taken of your target sleeve.  For instance, if your target sleeve diameter measures 8”, your newly-cut sleeve diameter (at the cut edge) can measure from 8” to about 8-1/2” diameter at the cut.

(If the new sleeve is much larger, you can simply narrow it by taking a larger “bite” out of the existing inner seam to make it the diameter you desire.)

Turn the newly-cut sleeve length inside out, and insert it, cuff-side first, down into the shorter ("target") sleeve … making sure wrong sides are together … aligning the new raw edge with the hem stitching line of the old sleeve.  You will be working (pinning) inside the existing sleeve for this next step, although you can turn it slightly back in your hand to facilitate pinning. 


Matching first at the underarm seams, secure with a single pin at the underarm seam.  Then, starting at the center-shoulder, pin all the way around each side, working towards the underarm seam, making sure not to stretch either fabric.  If your new sleeve is slightly larger around than the existing sleeve, this will allow for some slight easing at the underarm.  Clip into the new fabric at the underarm, if necessary, so you can slightly overlap any excess fabric, as shown below.


Below is a picture of the new sleeve (on the right) pinned onto the inside of the (flipped back) existing sleeve of the t-shirt (on the left). For the photo, I've also pulled the new sleeve out from the inside of the t-shirt, where it had been tucked for the pinning process.


Before taking it to the sewing machine, I find it easier to now turn the shirt entirely inside-out, and flip the new sleeve back to expose the newly-pinned-on sleeve addition (see below).  This will allow easy stitching on the free-arm of your sewing machine.  (If you don’t use a free-arm, you may find it easier to leave the shirt right-side-out, and sew it that way.)


I find that when using horizontally-placed straight pins, and sewing slowly with a zig-zag stitch, I can safely sew over the pins without removing them.  However, do remove them if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Beginning just past the underarm seam, stitch slowly with a zig-zag stitch , being careful not to stretch either fabric;  and as you come back around towards the underarm seam, ease any overlap at the underarm seam, and complete the zig-zag seam. The completed faux-layered t-shirt sleeve is shown below.


You can now turn the shirt right-side out and admire your new “layered” t-shirt! (The one shown below is a different t-shirt, with longer added sleeves ... but the same technique.)


I hope you enjoy this process as much as I did.  Since I'm not a garment seamstress, any technique that allows me to alter existing garments is a bonus for me!

BONUS Hint:  If you don't have a lot of discardable t-shirts laying around, you can pick them up really cheap at a thrift shop or Goodwill store.  Lots of great colors to go with your fun t-shirts, and all you have to look at are the sleeves!  I never pay over 99 cents for them.

22 comments:

  1. Great idea and directions! The photos added to the tutorial. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome ... I learn best visually, and assume that others do, too. As with most things, it's actually easier to do than to explain!

      Delete
  2. Good idea, Linda and a great tutorial! I sure know what you mean by those less-than-lovely upper arms.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I,and my upper arms, thank you for taking the time to create and post this tutorial. The photos are a great help and I think I can do this. I will definitely be using your tut to help me lengthen the sleeves on a few of my own Tshirts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome! Let me know if you have any questions.

      Delete
  4. Thanks, Linda. My upper arms have given in to gravity (along with various other body parts.) I will definitely use your tutorial to alter some currently unwearable tees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah, Roberta, you're so funny! My body parts, too! I love my tees since altering them.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Margarita. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Delete
  6. You can also do this to lengthen the hem of the shirt. Just say No to plumber's pants and that unflattering gap in the back whenever you bend over!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks! Actually, I usually cut off the longer tail of my tees, since I like a shorter tail. But the same technique would surely work!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great idea! I've got many t-shirts I love but can no longer wear due to sleeve length, and I haven't been able to make myself discard them because I like them too much. Now I won't have to. I'll just alter them. I never would have thought of doing this. Thanks for the easy instructions and photos!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you so much! Even though I'm normal to slim weight, my arms are so weird and I hate wearing any sleeves that don't fall just above the elbow. But like you said, most t-shirts (or other shirts) aren't made that way, except in plus-size and even then it's not that common. I kind of had an idea to do something like this, but I couldn't quite picture it - you did it for me so thanks!! My favorite t shirts will be worn again, yay!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You can even carry the layered look further by cutting off the neckband and adding it to the target shirt in same manner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's another great idea, PP. I actually usually cut the neckline even lower, as I can't stand anything high up on my neck. But I've used the tail of the sacrificed shirt to add to the bottom of the target shirt, too. Don't we just love "down-and-dirty" alterations? ;^)

      Delete
  11. Thank you for this! I've been wondering how to add length to the shirt itself, and you described it perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome ... in fact, I need to drag out some of my older t-shirts and do another overhaul.

      Delete
  12. Dear Ms. Minton: Thanks for the great tutorial. Just what I needed! One question: When you do the sewing, is on a 'regular' machine or one designed for use with knitted fabric? Thanks again, Petra

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Petra, I use a standard sewing machine, but you can set the stitch to a zig-zag if your fabric is particularly stretchy. I've never worried about that, though, and just use a straight stitch, myself. Have fun!

      Delete
    2. Okay, then, I'll forge ahead. Can't wait to try this. Thanks for the prompt reply!
      P.

      Delete

Talk to me, Y'all!