Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tutorial: Octoberize that Tee

Sewing Tutorial: Adding full sleeves to a Tshirt
This is a tutorial that I did a couple of weeks back at Ricochet and Away. I'm sharing it with you all here because I think its a good one for fall.Enjoy!

adding sleeves to a Tshirt

For this post I wanted to bring you something that would be useful to almost everyone. You know how we all are left with Tees at the end of the summer, they look and fit great but they are half sleeved, so they can't be used during the fall and winter. By the time summer rolls back again, they're too short already.
I have found myself with a pile of half sleeved clothes and wondering...Gosh!! these clothes are so nice, I wish I could use them somehow, until it hit me...adding sleeves shouldn't be that hard. After all, I do it all the time for the clothes I sew from scratch. Adding just the sleeves would be a lot more easier..and quicker.

So here's a tutorial on adding sleeves to your little one's ( or your own) tees and then adding just a little more detail to bind it all together. I'm calling it Octoberizing that Tee because a full sleeved version will be just right for the weather in the beginning of fall and also because the colors are just right for October.

Supplies ( 2 year old size)

1 half sleeved Tshirt
1 XL Tshirt in a contrasting color ( or any knit fabric will do - using T shirt was much quicker because I didn't have to hem)

Adding the full sleeves:

how to add long sleeves to a tshirt

Cut off the sleeves from the adult tee.

measuring the width of sleeve

Lay the small Tee straight and place the sleeves from the big tee next to the small Tee sleeves. Make sure that both the Tee sleeves and the new sleeves make a straight line and overlap about half inch. Now measure from the shoulders of little Tee to the hem of sleeves of big Tee, this is how long your final sleeve will be. Compare it with the sleeve length needed for your child.If this is too big, increase the overlap to reduce the length. If it is too small you have two options - 1 You can pick open the hem of sleeves, this will give you one extra inch. you could do rolled hems on the sleeves later.
Another option is to use T-shirt body, or a knit fabric instead of sleeves. This is not very complicated either. Just fold a knit fabric along the width and use it the same way I'm showing you using the existing sleeves. You just have to hem these sleeves...that's all.

Once you have determined the correct length you have to determine the width. What we want to do is make an addition to the sleeve that is as wide as the existing sleeve's end in and then it tapers off following natural shape of arm.
So you will measure the width using the hem of existing sleeve and add 1 inch to it for sewing margins.
cutting out the sleeve

Do the same for the other sleeve.

drafting a full sleeve from a half sleeve
Now fold each sleeve in half along the width ( right sides together) and sew a seam on the side using up sewing margins. Repeat for the other sleeve.

sewing up the sleeve

Turn this tube of sleeve inside out. Now line it up with the real sleeve as shown above. Now gently slide the wider end of new sleeve into the existing sleeve. Straighten both the sleeves using your hand. Make sure the new sleeve is fitting the old sleeve evenly. Use hand basting or pins to hold it in place.

attaching the full sleeve to half sleeve
Sew a seam along the joint of the new and old sleeves to fix it in place.
Note: It is easier to go from the neckline to sew this seam, at least it was for me.
Repeat for the other sleeve.

Ta da! Your tee has full sleeves!

Adding contrasting stripes at the front.

sewing contrast stripes to the front

Cut two rectangles from the contrasting knit of width equal to the width of Tee and length = 5 inches. Place them one over the other and then onto the Tee at a position you like.

sewing contrasting stripes
Pin or hand-baste these to make sure they stay in their place.

sewing chenille stripes
Now sew parallel lines along the hand-basting. Mine are about 5/8 inch apart. You can use your sewing machine foot as a guide to get evenly spaces lines.

how to sew stripes on a tshirt

Once you're done sewing, its time to cut. Cut between the seams, Making sure you're cutting only the extra layers and not the Tshirt itself. I used a small scissor to do this. Try to stay in the center between two seams but you don't have to be precise. We are taking advantage of the fact that knits don't fray. So we can leave the cut edges raw.

adding stripes to a Tshirt

Congratulations! You have successfully Octoberized your Tee. Right now the orange is looking like a color-block at the front, but these knit strips will curl up in the wash.
octoberize a Tshirt

So they look more like ruffled stripes of orange and white. For more pizazz you could use more layers, and also graded color layers. So when you cut, you will see colors of different intensity. I haven't done that but I think it would look cool.

PS: Here's a very helpful comment from Amanda:

"I've been doing this with my son's shirts for a couple of years. Since toddler/preschooler shirts are rather small, it's hard to sew the fabric on as a tube. I open out the underarm seam on the t-shirt so I can sew on the new sleeve as a flat piece of fabric, then turn inside out and resew the underarm seam all the way to the cuff. I cut the arm extensions from too-small knit pants sometimes-- they often already have a ribbed cuff."

Great comment Amanda! I'm sure it will be helpful to many readers. I'll also try it this way.