March 08, 2011

T-Shirt to Spring Jacket

Welcome all you Celebrate the Boy fans.  Thanks for dropping in.  I love a good boy project and this is one I've had in my head for months.  Who's ready?  Raise your hands please!

Here's what we're up to today.  The basic idea is to take a t-shirt and turn it into a jacket or pullover.  I love to sew, but I consider myself to be a beginner.  So, rather than starting from scratch I like to start with an existing shirt.  Plus, honestly speaking, my boys are sweaty little guys.  I can't ever put a thick sweater on them.  I like thin layers and so do they.

Here's another version.  You can mix and match the ideas to create one that suits your little guy's needs.

Showing you the options kind of makes this like a book that has different ending options.  Just pick and choose what you like.  First, I'll show you how I made the orange jacket step by step.

I bought a plain t-shirt, an exposed zipper, knit ribbing, and I gathered some scraps that coordinated.  Let's talk zippers first.  They carry a wide variety of these zippers at JoAnn's now.  Bring your coupon or you'll spend more on the zipper than the t-shirt.  (My t-shirt was $3.50 and the zipper was around $5.)  You need to measure your child to get an idea of the zipper length to buy.  It's a heavy zipper that you can't really shorten, so make sure you measure first.

The first thing we'll do is sew on some strips across the chest of the shirt.  (I didn't fold under the strips.  I like the raw edges personally.)  If sewing with knits makes you nervous you can use heat 'n bond to help you out.  (Warning: If you're going to use it and you're sewing on strips that have a graphic like mine be sure not to put an iron right on it.  It could melt it.  So, just lay a thin fabric over the top of it when you iron it on.)

When I sew with knits I like to make my piece extra long and then trim is afterwards.  Then if things shift a bit during sewing I'm not short on fabric.

After the strips are sewn we can add the ribbing.  You don't need much.  I think I used less than 1/4 of a yard.  I cut strips that were about 5 inches wide, so they would be about 2.5 inches when folded and sewn on.  The width of the ribbing depends on your zipper length.  You'll want to lay out your zipper and see how much ribbing you need to make the zipper fit the length of the jacket. 

Sew a loop of fabric about an inch more narrow than the width of the t-shirt.  See how it's not as wide as the shirt?  See also how I've laid out the zipper to figure out the length of the ribbing?  (Remember you'll loose a 1/4 of an inch on the length of  both when you sew them together.)  You want the ribbing to be more snug just like it is on a sweatshirt. 

When sewing on the ribbing just place the ribbing where it goes (like in the picture above) and fold it up onto the shirt so that it's around the entire shirt.  Since the ribbing is a smaller circle you'll stretch it gently as you sew.  You'll do the exact same thing for the sleeves.  They are a little trickier, since they are so small, but it's not too hard.  If you have a serger you can serge the edges.  If you don't it's okay.  I don't either.  The knit isn't going to fray so don't sweat it.  Now you'll have this.

Now let's make the hood.  I took one of my son's hoods to trace.  I laid it on the edge of t-shirt (as shown) so I could use the existing hems. 

Lay the right sides together and sew the hood, leaving the bottom open where it wil be sewn to the shirt.  Now we'll sew it onto the shirt.  Cut out the neckline.  I would actually cut right where the collar and the shirt join.  (I cut a little extra off there.)  When sewing on the hood I find the middle of the back of the shirt and place the middle of the hood there.  That way I know it will be centered.

Now you'll notice the the seams are quite visible and when wearing a hood, you see them a bit.  I decided to cover them by taking some knit strips, folding then over the seams, and sewing it all the way around.

It will also help in case there'a gap between the hood and the zipper.  (I'm sorry I didn't take a great picture of this, but I'm talking about the green knit fabric you see around the neckline.)  It cleans up the look of the jacket.

Lastly, we'll sew on the zipper.  I love the exposed zippers that are so popular right now.  Sewing this baby on is pretty easy.  Pin it in place and sew 4 lines down it.  First sew the outer edge of the zipper and then the other outer edge.  Then if you have a zipper foot on your machine you can use it to sew a line close to the zipper on both sides.  If you don't have a zipper foot just do your best to get in close.  Fold over the top of the zipper when you get to the top.  (Tip: If your zipper is not long enough just fold up the ribbing again and sew it above your last seam, shortening the overall length of the jacket.)

Once the zipper is sewn on you can unzip it, cut down the shirt, and trim the edges of the shirt underneath so they don't get stuck in the zipper.

You're done!  Hooray!  Now grab your little guy and try it on.  This one's a little big for Rex now, but here's my nephew modeling it.

Now, I'm going to make an executive decision here (because it makes me feel cool to feel like an executive).  This tutorial was seriously long, so I'm going to show you how I made the pullover on Thursday.  I don't want you to overdose on shirt transformations today.  I'll also show you how I made the scooter print on the pullover's pocket, since sometimes it's hard to find fun knits.

Tomorrow  is Wake Up Wednesday and then Thursday will be the Pullover.  Thanks for your patience and thank you for reading!


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