Sunday, July 10, 2011

(re)design your summer: t-shirt maxi skirt

Allow me to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess with the unfortunate name of Maxi Skirt. A young blogger known as Maggie had a serious girl crush on Maxi Skirt but Maxi Skirt wouldn't give her the time of day, unless she was way too expensive or dry-clean only. Besides, Maxi Skirt had already fallen for the homely T-Shirt but Queen Anthropologie wouldn't allow Maxi Skirt to marry T-Shirt because it would mean that Maggie could actually buy their children (whoa, that sounds creepy). Anyway, Maxi Skirt and T-Shirt decided to elope and this tutorial is the result.
Twisted fairytale aside, I've seen many tutorials for maxi skirts and many covetable overpriced maxi skirts but no tutorials for maxi skirts made out of t-shirts. Link to any in the comments section, prove me wrong, we can have a linky party! For now though, this is the Maggie-patented way on how to make your own maxi skirt!
I did my own take on this tutorial (which is probably better but uses by-the-yard jersey fabric instead of t-shirts).
So let's get started! The socially acceptable pajama skirt is a stitches away!

stuff you'll need:

-2 t-shirts of the same color, xl or larger depending on your size and how roomy/draped you want your maxi skirt to be (the roomier the drapier the better). If you are taller than 5'3 you will probably need 3 t-shirts otherwise you might wind up with one of those weird mid-calf-length skirts. 
-good scissors
-sewing machine/thread
-lots of glass-headed pins
-1 1/2" waistband elastic, color depends on the color of your t-shirts
-ironing board/irons/steady hands or person you can trust not to kill themselves with a hot iron, if you want to get all fancy and iron down the seams properly (I'm too lazy for that unless I'm in a sewing class)

Oh, that reminds me: MY SEWING MACHINE SEWS FORWARD AGAIN!!!!!!! I have no idea how that happened but shh, let's not jinx it. And you will need a sewing machine for this project or you'll be sewing until 2012.

Whee! Let's begin.
a note about knits: Many people say knit fabrics like t-shirt fabric is soooo hard to sew, soo hard to work with blah blah blah. Au contraire. They go through the machine like a dream and this is coming from me, girl wonder who has no experience but a series of private lessons on how to make the feathered 20s dress (and they were great lessons mind you but rather specialized to that one dress). I told the fabric lady at Joann's about this as I stood there hopefully clutching a bolt of beautiful silky fabric. She said that jersey knit (aka t-shirts) is super easy to sew-it's dancewear and swimwear knits--as well as silks and satins--that beginning sewers have to watch out for. There went my silky dreams.
Prepwork: Seam rip out the pockets if there are any on your t-shirts. Do not get sloppy as it will show.

1. Cut straight across the t-shirt, through both layers, right under the armholes.
2. Pin t-shirts together so the finished hem of one (the bottom of the t-shirt) is your bottom hem. This will save you a lot of hemming time if you are a beginner sewer such as I.
3. Zig-zag stitch the areas where you pinned (zig-zag stitch is the only stitch I'm sure I can do). This is now the wrong side of your garment so if you have a cool design or logo you wanted to show off make sure that it's on the other side.

After sewing and turned right side out. Yes those t-shirts are two different shades of gray. No I do not care. I'm calling it shabby-chic. Take that Anthropologie!
 4. Use the extremely scientific method of winding the elastic around yourself and marking with dressmaker's chalk (or a pencil) where the ends meet and overlap a little, cut the elastic to size.

5. This is where it gets a little tricky but fear not, if I can do it sew can you. (see what I did there ;)?) Pin the t-shirt to the elastic. Since your shirts are most likely larger than your waist (unless you'd like to hobble around all day feeling like your legs are in a cocoon) you will have to dart/pleat/smoosh (there's a sewing word for this I know there is) the extra fabric. That means folding little pleats of excess and pinning it every inch or so along the elastic depending on how much bigger your shirts are. Make your pleats evenly spaced and sized. You don't want to make them jealous of each other.

Your skirt should be wrong side out again if you flipped it right-side-out to admire it. You do not have to go to the top of the elastic--it depends on how much fabric you can spare before you're showing calf.

6. Zig-zag stitch them down. This was the hardest part of the process as you have to be careful to take out the pins before you sew over them (not a good idea) but also not lose your carefully bunched pleats.

 7. Flip right side out, wear, and baby you are done!

8. Press the seams if you are fancy/decent at sewing like that. Don't ask me how, I don't know! Ask my sewing teacher or try this tutorial. 

9. Wear your socially acceptable pajama skirt. Strut your fancy little self around town. If you want to brag about wearing a totally free outfit, slip on the tattered t-shirt redesign on top!

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