Wednesday, July 24, 2013

T-shirt Skirts and Sewing with Knits

Anyone else love the schedule ahead feature on Blogger? I do. It's made posting all this week possible while I'm at Girls Camp and up north to be with my mom in her 4 week long (we're praying it's not longer) hospital stay. Technology sure is a wonderful thing. Until it doesn't work and then we curse the computer/phone/car as if it is "their" fault. 

Anyway...that really has nothing to do with today's post. I'll get on with it now. 

Sarah sent us in a Pinstrosity she ended up with when she tried to make a cute summer skirt for herself. Here's what she was going for:

The Original Pin
Skirts made out of t-shirts! I love it. I'm thinking my growing belly needs one of these. There's still enough warm weather left here to warrant a skirt like this. 

The Pinstrosity
"While searching Pinterest for new project ideas, I saw this pin on turning t-shirts from Goodwill into skirts by cutting off the top of the shirt from the armpit up and shirring around the top. It sounded like a simple enough project, and something that even a chubby lady like me could wear, so I immediately headed down the street to Goodwill to scrounge through their limited supply of men's t-shirts. There were a couple that would have made cute skirts, but none of them were long enough for me. Since the pattern essentially turns the shirt into a tube of fabric, I figured I could just buy some knit fabric, sew it into a tube, and go from there. After all, how hard could it be to make a simple tube?"

"First I figured that, since the length of fabric I bought was the perfect length off the bolt (i.e. the 2 yards I bought, still folded in half from the way it was put on the bolt, was a good length for the skirt I wanted), I could just cut it in half lengthwise. I prewashed it, then cursed when I realized the crease down the middle had now disappeared, and my fabric refused to be folded flat again. My mom suggested just sewing it all into a long skirt, shirring it like I was planning, and then hemming it to the correct length. Which probably would have worked if I knew how to sew with knit fabric. She had to come over and help me, and we both flailed around for a while testing out my new sewing machine. We got the tube sewed to *about* the length I wanted it, then tried to shirr the waistband... only to have the elastic thread bunch up in the back. We ended up with a hole in the fabric from cutting away the snarled elastic. At this point I gave up, and now I've got a pile of violently bright aquamarine knit fabric taking up space in my craft closet."

"No photo, sorry! I didn't really have any good opportunities for pictures, and all you'd see is a pile of fabric anyway."  -Sarah

Sewing with knits can be a pain in the tushy (why do we just say pain in the neck or pain in the butt? Why not "That was a pain in the clavicle!" or "That was a pain in the armpit!"...really?). As a beginning seamstress myself, I haven't had much experience with sewing knits and my usual library of sewing information is sitting in a hospital bed right now, so I don't want to bug her. So I turned to Google for answers and found three really great articles with lots of great tips on sewing knits. They have tips for needles, for stitch types and lengths, for how to cut the fabric, how to wash it, etc. So if you're going to be working with knits and you're not too experienced in that area, check these out before jumping into your project:

Happy sewing!


  1. I've been told (but I could be wrong) that the reason why we say pain in the neck and pain in the... tushie... is that most people carry their tension in one of those two places. Especially the neck... How many times have you walked up to somebody who was stressed and given them a nice neck and shoulder rub to relax them?

  2. I've had a bit of practice with knits...pretty much just the one-hour-or-less maxi skirt. The biggest thing is to use the right machine needle, designed to work with knits. I've never attempted to shirr knits, but I tried with cotton once, and elastic thread doesn't like me, even after multiple tutes on how to wind the bobbin. :P
    the basic maxi skirt that I've done takes about 2 yards of fabric. You measure the widest part of you from waist down. (Somewhere on the hips ;P ) Divide that # by 2 (you're cutting 2 pieces) that will be the top width measurement. Since I make a casing for elastic, I measure about 1.5" straight down first. Then use pins to mark a slightly angled line to the outside of the fabric, at the bottom hem edge length. Cut outside the pins. Sew the side seams, sew the casing, insert elastic. done.
    IF you want the waistband thingy, that I see on these tshirt skirts, there are some pins of maxi skirts that have the same thing, and it looks fairly easy...and with 2 yards, even with a maxi skirt, you should have enough left to make that waistband.

    Knit has a preference for stretch direction, so for the waistband, you cut it so the stretch goes width-wise. Instead of shirring, you cut it smaller than your waist measurement, and it stretches to stay. Some knits are really nice (jersey I think is one), and doesn't need hemming! :D, and most come in nice wide lengths. Of course, when sewing with knit, you also need to be careful to not pull the material through the machine, something that often starts to happen when you're used to cotton, and keeping it "firm"...

    bear in mind that these tips and comments come from one who can basically handle a simple straight line, and the a-line maxi skirt I described above is the only garment I've managed to sew with happy success. :)


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