T-shirt renovation, in gory detail

Last week I posted on Wardrobe Refashion about a particular type of neck finish for t-shirts and someone asked for details. I think I've almost got the hang of how to do this and it's seriously easy. What I like about this edging is that it exploits both the give and the non fraying properties of t-shirt material. I think it would work on 100% cotton and cotton lycra mixes. And it's more stable than a plain cut and unhemmed finnish. This is the second I've done, on a cheap Savers tee, but I think I'm nearly ready to use it on a made from scratch t-shirt. Although I did make a fairly ghastly mistake on this one. It's fixable, just means I need to take the sleeves off and reset them. Which is way more effort than I intended. Anyway I'll explain later, so you don't have to go through that particular trauma yourself.

Firstly cut off the ribbing and decide whether you want a vee or round neck. I went for a vee neck. If the t-shirt sleeves sit below your shoulders, consider widening the neck quite a bit. This will mean that you can use gathering which I think is still fashionable and that the shoulders can be pulled in. (I dislike dropped shoulder t-shirts, but if they're your thing, please ignore me.) Save the fabric you cut out in as complete piece as possible.
Using the longest stitch on your sewing machine, sew two lines of stitching fairly close to the edge of the back and front neck. Gather and try on. Based on your mirror assessment, either increase or decrease the amount of gathering. Tie the the cotton at the ends. Play with the gathering so it is fairly even and where you want it.
Make a band about 2-3 cm wide from the material you cut from the neck. It should be the same shape. If you know it will be longer than the neckline, cut it at the shoulder join. Just a little smaller than the neck opening is fine if the material has some stretch. Pin the band to the neck line, right sides facing. Join at shoulder seams if necessary.

Attach to the neckline with a fairly narrow zig zag. Try to plan so that you are not sewing over the gathering cotton. This will make removing it later much less tedious.

Remove the gathering cotton. If you didn't sew over it like I did, the gathering cotton should pull out easily once you unpick a few stitches. Otherwise you need to carefully prise it out with the unpicker. Once all the gathering cotton is removed, turn the neck edging so the raw edge is pointing to the neckline and both seams are pointing towards the body of the garment. Top stitch with two rows of straight stitch. I use the foot of the sewing machine as a guide for even stitches.  I then repeated the process for the sleeves but left the original hem, as that was OK. There is another photo of the completed t-shirt here.
And the mistake, well I cut the neckline out perfectly the first time and then cut a band from it, not thinking that I aready had enough material. As a consequence the neckline is way, way too deep and revealing, especially for one so um, buxom. I thought I had fixed the problem by sewing along the shoulders. I must have been rushing or stressed by Grace who had awoken form her non-afternoon nap and who didn't want to play outside with her dad but who wanted to participate in sewing activities. And who protested vehemently when prevented from doing so. Anyway, I should know by now that this fix doesn't work. You just end up with pointy shoulders. So I'll have to take the sleeves off, resew the shoulders and reset the sleeves.  Like I said before, more work than I wanted to do, but if I hadn't rushed...

Then the t-shirt will go in the wash and afterwards will have a lovely curled edge.


shula said...

Cool! Thanks!

Edie said...

now I am definitely going to have to try this. It looks easy! and I really have to get after that pile of tee shirts! I'm not sure what neckline style I want yet, but I have enough tee's to practice on, so I might try several.
thanks for the demo!!

Kaydee said...

Thank you thank you thank you !!
I have been mulling this over in my head for a few weeks, waiting for the chance to "perfect" it, You have done that so nicely for us now. !
I think this style is more suitable for us who need a tad bit of room across the middle and the V neck is really a charmer for most of us.