Tutorial: How to hack a t-shirt to have a popper closure

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my hack to the Brindle and Twig Ringer Tee pattern to give it a popper opening/closure and make it easier to get on and off.  I thought that I would put together a proper tutorial.  This method will work for any t-shirt pattern with a shoulder seam, and doesn’t have to be limited to just children’s clothing.  You could just as easily use the same method to add a fun feature to an adult jumper too.  I’m using the Ringer Tee pattern pieces again simply because it is a readily available and free pattern so any of you that want to give this a go, can!

 

Pattern modifications

Step 1:

The pieces that we are altering are the front, back, and the neckband.  You will first need to trace off new copies of these pieces in the relevant size.  Leave space around the pieces for the modifications.

The Ringer Tee has the front and back pattern pieces cut on the fold.  We are going to make the pattern asymmetrical, so you may find it easier to trace the pattern piece off complete so that it can be cut on a single layer.

Step 2:

Decide how much of an overlap you want at the closure.  I chose 1/2″ or 13mm.

I also decided that because it is a jersey pattern, and jersey does not fray I was happy to leave the inside edge raw or overlocked, rather than concealing the cut edge.

Step 3: Front Pattern Piece

You need to know what seam allowance the pattern you are working with uses.  The Ringer tee has 6mm seam allowances.

Draw the seam allowance on to one shoulder seam. (the blue line in the picture)

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Draw on another line which is 13mm (or whatever overlap you decided on) from the seam line.  With my 6mm seam allowance this makes 7mm extra length in the shoulder.  This extra area is shaded in green.

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Step 4: Back Pattern Piece

Draw the seam line onto the same shoulder as you did for the front.  (It will look like the opposite shoulder because the pattern piece is effectively back-to-front.)  See the blue line below.

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Draw another line twice the overlap away from your seam line.  If you are using a 13mm overlap, this new line needs to be 26mm from the seam line.  The extra area is shaded in green again.

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Step 5: Neckband

Your neckband needs to have the total additional length added to it.  This means the length added beyond the seam line.  In my example that is 27mm.  (13+26-6-6=27mm)

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Sewing up

Step 6: Cutting out and first shoulder seam

Cut out the pattern pieces.  Cut a tiny notch at the seam allowance line on the front and back shoulder on the side which was modified.  Sew the other shoulder seam (the one without the pattern alterations) as in the pattern instructions.  Press the seam to the back.

Step 7: Neckband

Fold and press the neckband in half.  Stitch it to the neckline.  Press the seam down towards the body of the top.  It should now look like this, with the neckline finished, and one shoulder open.

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Step 8: Prepping second shoulder

Finish the shoulder seam allowances if you wish.  Press over 13mm on the front and back shoulder seams.  Use a strip of fusible hemming web to keep the fold in place while you complete the rest of the construction.

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Step 9: Prepping the overlap

Overlap the back shoulder over the front, using the shoulder seam notches to align properly.  Use pins to keep the overlap in place.

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Step 10: Sleeves

Insert the first sleeve, matching the shoulder notches to the central notch of the sleeve.  Once it is sewn, this will keep the overlap in place.

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Insert the other sleeve.

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Step 11: underarm and Side seams

Sew the underarm sleeve, and side seams together in one continuous seam.

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Step 12: Cuffs and Waistband

Sew the short edges of the sleeve cuffs and waistband.  Press them in half wrong sides together.

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Sew the waistband and sleeve cuffs to the body.

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Step 13: Attach snaps to open shoulder

Attach snaps to the open shoulder seam, aligning the two halves.  I used two snaps on this 3-6 month size, but on larger sizes it might be better to use more.

You may wish to use jersey snaps like these which have multiple prongs because they are less likely to pull out with time and wear.  I generally use Prym vario pliers to apply snaps.  Much easier than all the hammering!

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All finished and ready to wear!

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Baby pattern hacking

A little while ago I shared a couple of Brindle and Twig patterns that I had been making up multiples of- the cuff leggings and raglan tee. This time I’ve been using a free release from Brindle and Twig- the ringer tee, but I had a few thoughts on making it more practical for dressing wiggly babies!

The basic ringer tee is already a great pattern. Some pattern companies release free patterns so that you can get to look at their instructions and drafting and decide if you like them enough to work with in their paid patterns. This is a well drafted basic tee in lots of sizes (it goes from 0-3m to 6 years) so another pattern that I should get lots of use out of. With that in mind, I had the pattern printed in colour to make it easier to see the different sizing lines, and just traced off the size that I needed.

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I went with the 0-3m size again, but one of my concerns before with the raglan tee’s was whether the neckbands would be easy to get over baby’s head. I’ve heard that babies sometimes don’t like things being put on over their head and I wondered if I could hack the pattern to make it easier. I have seen quite a few baby t-shirts and jumpers with snaps at the shoulder to make the neckline bigger while putting them on and off and it looked like a simple fix.

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This hack was actually really easy to do. I just extended the neckband, and the front and back shoulder on one side so that I had a bit extra for folding over. It makes putting the neckband in particularly easy because you only sew up one shoulder seam, then put the neckband in flat. Press the excess over on the open shoulder, and pin together at the right position while the sleeve is inserted, then just add snaps. If people are interested I can put together a proper photo tutorial of how to modify the pattern pieces and sewing process.

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I used my vario pliers and some prym colour snaps to co-ordinate with the jersey. I’m not sure how robust these will be as I don’t know if I interfaced the snap section enough to stop the jersey from stretching out and releasing the snaps. I think on the next version I will use jersey snaps instead which should be more robust. I’m pleased with this as a test run though. It looks super cute, and extra practicality. Now I just need the baby to arrive to test it out!

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Acacia Undies

Another scrapbusting project this week- underwear! This is the free Acacia underwear pattern from Megan Nielson which you can get if you subscribe to their newsletter. I spent a few days rummaging through all my jersey fabric scraps to see what I could come up with to make a couple of pairs, then set up a production line to start sewing!

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The pattern is particularly planned for people trying to cut these out from scraps by having all the pattern pieces cut on the flat rather than on the fold, which does make it easier to see what you can squeeze in to your funny shaped fabric pieces. I decided to go for the size M because its been a bit tricky working out which size to cut when your waist is clearly not in proportion with your hips. I was hoping that it would give me enough space to be comfortable, but with the option of sewing the elastic a little tighter if they ended up too big.

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I bought a few different types of elastic on eBay because the instructions give instructions for fold-over elastic, flat elastic and decorative picot elastic. I just chose a couple of colours which I liked and thought would co-ordinate with some of the fabrics in my stash.  Deciding how to mix and match has been fun!

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This green pair is the first one that I made up, and I added the elastic on the sewing machine.  It looks ok, but for some of the other pairs I did the first pass with the elastic on the overlocker so that I didn’t end up with raw fabric edges.  Jersey doesn’t fray, but I just thought that it looked neater.

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The pattern does come together very easily. If you have ever used the ‘burrito method’ to enclose the seams on a shirt yoke, the method used to attach the internal and external gusset hiding the seams on the inside is very similar. It is all very clearly explained though, so even if you haven’t come across it before you shouldn’t have any issues.  And if you prefer photographs to the illustrations in the pattern booklet, there is even a full set of instructions on the Megan Nielson Blog.

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I did use all the different elastic finishes, and I think the fold-over elastic is quickest because it is applied in one pass, rather than two.  I do really like the look of the picot edge though.  I definitely got better at applying the elastic as I went on.  It is just a bit fiddly at first stretching the elastic to fit the seam as you sew.

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I’m not going to be modelling these for you, because that seems a little weird, but good news is that they are comfortable, fit pretty well and are effectively totally free underwear if you use scraps that would be too small for any other sewing!

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Best part is, they are also really quick to cut and sew, so when you are lacking a little in inspiration, and just need to sew something, this is a good pattern to pull out of the bag.  Everyone always needs pretty underwear!

Tiny heads and hands

As you may now know, we are preparing for a new addition to our household, and this has prompted some slightly different sewing.  The great news for me though is that sewing for babies is a great use for little scraps, like the bits left over from my recent toaster sweater.  I had just enough to make some tiny mittens and a matching hat!

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The hat is a self drafted template, with a simple cuff at the bottom.  There are loads of tutorials out there for baby hats, but none of them were going to fit into the tiny scraps that I had left so I had to create my own.  The cuff piece was 8cm high and a little smaller than twice the width of the hat template.

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All I had to do was cut two ‘hats’ and a cuff.  Sew the ‘hats’ together, right sight together.  Sew the short ends of the cuff together, right sides together and press it in half wrong sides together.  Then just match the raw edges of the hat and cuff together and sew round.  Done in just a few minutes!  Let me know if you would like a more detailed tutorial with pictures and I can definitely get one together.

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To make the mittens was also pretty simple.  I found this tutorial for drafting the pieces and just followed it through.

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I used a little bit of grey ribbing for the cuffs this time because it was a bit stretcher than my jersey.  I cut the lining from some soft grey t-shirt jersey (left over from these t-shirts) because there was literally nothing left of my French terry by this point!  They are all soft and cosy on the inside because all the seams are enclosed.

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Don’t they look cute just waiting for baby to pop them on.  I’m sure this is just the first of perhaps many baby related posts, but when things are so quick and take so little fabric, why wouldn’t you sew them something!

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Another wedding outfit- Ogden and pleats

I spotted this leaf print viscose challis at Minerva Crafts a while ago, and thought it was a bargain at £2.99 a metre. There are a few colour options to choose from, but I really liked the muted colours of the tan colourway, and when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.  The fabric is so soft and fluid, but surprisingly easy to work with too.  I thought that I would make a lovely wedding outfit given that I had a few more to attend this year and I wasn’t wrong!

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One problem with sewing for weddings is that I rarely need to get dressed up like that in everyday life, and it does seem a waste to make something beautiful only to wear it for special occasions.  With that in mind, I decided to make a coordinating skirt and top so that I would have more opportunities to wear them apart as well as together.  This might have been partially inspired by other bloggers, and in particular Becca from Red W Sews who also used the ogden cami to make a ‘fake dress’.  It was actually this that convinced me to buy the pattern, and I’m glad I did because it is so simple and elegant.

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So with the top decided, I just needed to work out a skirt.  I fancied something midi length, which isn’t a length that I usually go for, but I thought for a wedding and with heels it should look a bit more classy.  The skirt didn’t need to be anything complicated so I decided to draft one myself  (not entirely successfully) from basic measurements.  I did find a couple of blogs that helped me out, most notably sewVeraVenus for drafting the skirt and Andrea at The Butchers Block for working out how I could have both a side seam zip and pockets!

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Somehow, once I had sewn the zip in and tried the skirt on, it was just far too big.  Being the lazy sewist that I am, I didn’t really want to reset the zip, so I decided to take out a full pleat from the opposite side seam.  I just unpicked a little bit of the waistband facing, took the side seam in, and sewed the facing back down.  Amazingly, despite taking a full 10cm out of the waist, it is still a little big so I don’t think much of my maths.  Either that, or the fabric stretched out a lot more than expected while sewing in the pleats.

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Because these box pleats use a lot of fabric (3 times the waist measurement) this is a lovely full and swooshy skirt.  There is enough weight to it for it to flow nicely, and because it is just a big rectangle , I had plenty of fabric to give it a deep hem.  Sadly, though the wedding venue had beautiful grounds it rained all afternoon, so we had to sneak out and find a little shelter to take these photos.

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Having tested it out together at the wedding, it seemed only right to give the top an outing by itself on the way home.  We stopped off at Croome on the way home, a National Trust property with a really interesting mixed history.  It has a massive grounds and parkland, but was also a ‘secret’ RAF base during the 2nd world war and was instrumental in developing RADAR.

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It was a lovely spot for a walk around and a break from motorway driving.  And my Ogden cami was comfortable and stylish for a Sunday afternoon stroll.  I can see it getting plenty of use for a semi-dressed up look this autumn.

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Button Back Blouse, It’s winning me around!

 

Although I was going to label this a sewing fail, I am being won over!  I made this Tilly and the Buttons button back blouse from an issue of love sewing over a year ago.  It is well finished with French seams, but I never wore it when it was newly finished.  Lets have a look at the details to find out why!

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I believe this is quite similar to the TATB Mathilde Blouse, just without the pin tucks if you want to be able to recreate it. It has a yoke seam, which I very carefully added piping into.

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So why have I not been wearing it?  I think it comes down to two things- personal style and fit.  Those puffed sleeves are cute, but don’t fit with my usual style because I can’t wear a cardigan.  In terms of fit, the key problem is at the back.

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I think I have a quite narrow upper back.  I often have to take in quite a bit at the centre back and by the time I realised there was a problem in this top the button placket was finished and it seemed too fiddly.  It also feels like the shoulder seam is slightly in the wrong place.  This may also be because I need a full bust adjustment, and this is pulling the back and shoulder seam out of place.

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So why, when I wore it out for these pictures did I start reconsidering my plans to take it to the charity shop.  I think it is a combination of the style being perfect for the current weather, and a great combination of fabric and pattern!  Some of the things that I didn’t like about the pattern, are actually what is making it so perfect.  The longer sleeves keep it breezy and cool, but mean that I don’t need a cardigan, even into the evening.  The fabric (sadly no longer available at Minerva Crafts) is a lovely cotton chambray and just a fantastic weight and drape.  The contrast piping and buttons lighten it up and the splash of coral is great for spring.

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Perhaps I will have to give this a second chance!

Wise up Wednesdays- Pinning and clipping

I keep two types of pins in my sewing kit.  Firstly, ordinary sharp pins, but I prefer mine to have glass heads so that I can’t melt them if I touch them with an iron.

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Secondly, I have some fine ballpoint pins which I keep to use on particularly delicate fabrics and on jersey.  They do have a habit of slipping out so I definitely have to handle things carefully once they are pinned with these.

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Finally, I have some quilting clips.  These are great for anytime that pins are not your friend.  Fabrics which might ladder or mark, waterproof fabrics or leather, net and fabrics that pins just fall back out of.  Even anything which is a bit thick and bulky for pins can be clipped easily.

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I keep my pins in little clippy boxes.  They need to be big enough to get your hands in and out easily.  Especially as I don’t like to stop sewing to remove my pins, I need to be able to find the pot while still watching the needle!

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My clips stay safe in a little drawstring bag.  These are so simple to make, and I always have plenty around to be used to wrap small presents or store odds and ends.  I use a tutorial by Pam at Threading my Way which is super simple to follow, and creates a neat finished pouch.  They are great for using up scraps or co-ordinating fat quarters!

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Camisoles galore!

A shorter post today for you.  I wanted to share a free pattern that I have got a lot of use out of in the last couple of months- the So Zo Vest.  You can tell that it is a good one because I have 4½ versions to share!

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4 of my 5 are made from old oversized t-shirts.  This pattern really doesn’t require much fabric- half a metre of most jerseys should be more than enough so it is also great for using up little bits from your stash.  The advantage of using a t-shirt is that you don’t even need to sew the bottom hem, just use the one which is already there.

Taken with Lumia Selfie

This might seem a seasonally inappropriate post, but I wear this sort of thing all year round- under another shirt or a dress in winter, and just with a cardigan in the summer.  I don’t think I will ever need to buy another.

Taken with Lumia Selfie

The instructions include the option to use flat elastic or fold over elastic.  All of mine are made with Fold over (foe) purchased from various Etsy and eBay sellers.  There are so many colours, patterns and options.

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Sparkly chevron fold over elastic

The ½ is for one which is not quite finished- it still needs straps but I ran out of elastic,

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Such a simple pattern, but so useful!  If you have never sewn with knits before this is a good option to try with very little waste or expense if it doesn’t turn out quite as planned, and a good opportunity to practice a few skills like applying the elastic.  I made my first 3 on a regular sewing machine with a triple zigzag stitch and the last two on my new overlocker.

I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you haven’t before.  Simple, free and minimal fabric requirements. What do you have to lose?