Lisa at PiePie Designs has been hosting a weekly sewing linkup every Tuesday called “Tuesday Sews“. Besides it being a chance to showcase your most recent sewing creations and browse what others have been up to you also get a chance to win a prize! A few weeks back I was the lucky winner of a pattern of my choice from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop.
Seeing that my wishlist for Peek-A-Boo is a mile long, it took some deep thinking to decided which pattern I should get. I ended up deciding on the “Boardwalk Hoodie & Henley“. The day before I found out about winning the free pattern I spent the morning swapping out Seb’s seasonal clothes and after checking what I had stashed away for the fall I concluded that he was pretty set with the exception of needing casual tops that were not t-shirts. I think henleys would definitely fit the bill! The pattern also includes a dress version so I’m sure I’ll also be whipping up some knit dresses for Pen as well.
Over the months since I acquired my serger I’ve been enamored by working with knits. A lot of the knit fabric I use is salvaged from knits I find in my own closet and thrift stores. When salvaging knit fabric from clothes that you already own (and no longer need) there is really not much concern of loss but when thrifting for clothes to up-cycle I bet most of us would not want to invest more than the salvaged fabric is worth.
When considering buying a t-shirt for up-cycling I try to consider the following:
What is the condition? Are there any fading/stains/pilling and where are they located? Depending on how you plan on cutting a t-shirt if the only signs of wear is the fading along the seams but you plan on not using the shirt right up to the seams then it might not be a deal breaker.
How much am I getting for my buck? From experience I know I can comfortably salvage enough from most men’s x-large shirts for a long sleeve 3T/4T shirt and get a short sleeve from a large. The pattern I most frequently use calls for a “1 yard” of knit fabric so in my brain it works out that if I can get enough shirt to up-cycle for WAY less than the cost of 1 yard I feel pretty good about the deal. You might have a lot more left overs with that yard of fabric but in my brain paying $1 for a shirt to up-cycle into another shirt vs paying $8 for 1 yard of fabric that will yield a shirt and 1/4 yard of leftovers I still think the up-cycle comes out as the winner. Before heading out to look for t-shirts to up-cycle take a look at your favorite knit pattern and see what yardage the pattern calls for.
Take a tape measure! I suck at guesstimates when it comes to eyeballing distances/sizes. I’m amazed be people that can eyeball things. I need rulers and loads of swearing. Even with men’s clothing sizes can vary by manufacturer so it does help to have an idea about the actual dimensions of what you are getting. I won’t even start on how extremely inconsistent women’s sizing can be.
Is it possible that I already have something like this at home? Besides giving myself the opportunity to mentally run through the bin where I toss clothes that could be put to better use but there can also be something hanging in the dark recesses of the closet that managed to avoid the bin but also could be put to better use. This is something that I’m not all that great at so I’ve been known to thrift the perfect red shirt for a project and come home to see that I had 3 in the bin. True story.
All bets are off when re-using an existing graphic! You might might get less from a shirt due to needing a finicky cut to suit the graphic on the new shirt or it might be positioned in a way that it will not work with whatever you have in mind. I saw this because the Aquabats shirt I made last week was up-cycled from a shirt that I bought because it had a pretty spiffy graphic and then it later dawned on me that no matter how I wrangled it the graphic would end up high near the neckline looking silly. I of course saved the graphic part and will eventually do something else with it. Maybe involving color blocking…
I don’t just look for knit shirts when thrifting. Dresses, skirts, woven tops and sheets suitable for up-cycling are all things that I look for.
If you have not already I highly recommend you stop by Tuesday Sews