Friday, July 30, 2010

Tutorial: Lighter Than Air Peasant Top

It's still really warm here. It is, after all, early August in North Carolina, and I'm not complaining; if I wanted cool weather, I'd live in a different part of the country. But my mind has been wandering more frequently to the quickly-approaching end of summer, when I'll go back to school and will have to wear more subdued, school-appropriate clothing, and fewer strappy dresses and summery frocks. Determined, however, that "professional" doesn't have to mean "boring," I wanted to come up with something that I could wear now (when it's hot and I'm more casual) and then (when it's cooler and I have to look more..with-it). So I came up with The Lighter Than Air Peasant Top.


It's made from an upcycled t-shirt, so it's cheap, eco-friendly, and comfortable. Plus, the options are endless, which means you can make it all yours. Here's how you do it!

Materials Needed:

  • upcycled man's t-shirt (I used a size L)
  • 1/4" elastic, in a length to be determined (I used about 29", which let the top have a gather of about 1/2 of the original shirt size when all was said and done)
  • safety pin
  • coordinating thread
  • sewing machine
Time required: 1-2 hours

Just like with the Heat Wave Halter, I've given instructions for optional or alternative steps, so you can pick and choose to make the kind of shirt that's ideal for you, based on your preferences and the amount of time you have to spend on the project.

What to do:

Step 1:
Start with a t-shirt that's about 2 sizes too big for you.

Tip: This would even work with a printed t-shirt, so it's a great project to give new life to one of your husband's old tees...as long as you love it and it's not really gross from yard work and other Manly Responsibilities, as most of my husband's are. If you don't have a shirt big enough to use, it's time to hit the thrift store, where the selection is huge. Huge. A long-sleeved shirt would make a great alternative for cooler, winter weather; you could make 3/4-length sleeves.

Step 2:

With chalk (you can kind of see the light-purple chalk line in the picture above), draw a chalk arc right below the neck of your shirt, extending about 2"-3" down on the shoulder on each side. Cut off this top part.

Step 3:
Cut off the edges of the sleeves, right inside of the existing stitching lines. Do the same thing on the bottom hem of the shirt, being sure that you DON'T cut into the stitching, especially on the bottom tube. Set these aside, as you'll use them later.

When you're through with these steps, your shirt will look like this:

Step 4:
Cut a vertical 3-inch slit at the top of the neckline of your shirt. We'll work more on this later.

Step 5:


This next step is fun. It's magic, like shirring ;-). On the hem, sleeves, and collar, which are all cut, raw edges now after you sliced them off, you're going to make them into lettuce edges. Basically you're going to make them a little ruffly and finish them at the same time. So set your machine for a normal zig zag stitch, normal stitch length and width with regular tension, stretch the fabric gently as you feed it through the machine. When the needle comes down on the left, it will land on the fabric, and when it comes down on the right, it will land just off of the fabric. Do this on all of those edges. When you're done, the edges will be a little ruffly (bonus: when you wash your shirt, those edges will be less likely to roll). Be sure not to sew over that slit in the front. We want that little gap for later.

Step 6:

Take what was once the waistband, which you cut off earlier. Cut open the loop, so it is now one long piece of fabric (but don't cut through those existing stitches that actually make it a long tube of fabric). Iron it so that the raw edge (the edge that you cut) is on the bottom, and you have a smooth tube on top. It's hard to see in the picture, but basically you'll have a smooth casing, with the sewn/cut edge ironed on the bottom.

Step 7:
Stretch this tube gently so that it fits all the way around the neckline of your shirt, and pin it down on the outside of the shirt, about 1/2" from your newly-ruffled top edge of your shirt.

Edge stitch down both sides of your tube to attach it to your shirt. This will be the casing for your elastic.

Step 8:
Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through this casing. My elastic was about 29" long, or the width of the front of my shirt from shoulder to shoulder. This was a great length for me and it gathered the shirt just enough, but you might want to play around with the measurement to get a length you like. Sew each end of the elastic down at the edge of the slit you cut in step 4.

Tip: don't let it slip all the way through the casing, or you'll lose the ends of the elastic and have to fish for it with a safety pin and you'll poke yourself and get blood all over your newly-created shirt. Not that I know anything about that. Or that I did that here. But it could happen.

Step 9:
Take the arm bands that you cut off and cut off the stitching line. Cut open the tube so you have one longer piece of fabric, stretch it gently, and tie a small knot close to the end of each of them.

Step 10:
Using a zig zag stitch, sew one of these strips to each side of that slit in the front, just under (or just in or even on top of, if you don't have room otherwise) the casing. They will be ties for the front of the shirt.

You're done!

You might want to adjust the length when you're done. If you do, just cut off the shirt and re-ruffle it, the way you did in step 5.


Another one done!

88 comments:

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Just gorgeous and an excellent tute! I have a couple of cheapie tees I'm going to try this on right away! Thanks!

Emily said...

great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

Anne K. said...

So, so cute. In fact, it's so cute I can hardly stand it! Definitely giving this a try - OK with you if I mention on the podcast?

Michelle said...

Thanks for the nice words! Definitely OK with a podcast mention, too :-). Thanks a bunch!

Mir said...

this is terrific. i was browsing for ages for a blog like yours! thank God i finally found you!

Little Mysteries said...

Fantastic! It looks wonderful.

Richelle said...

Super cute! I might have to try it!

Heaven's Walk - said...

So so very cute! Thank you for sharing such an easy to understand tutorial. I think that even me..a non-sewer...could handle something like this! And you look adorable in it, too! :)

Happy Met Monday!

xoxo laurie@heavens-walk

Blue Ridge Altered Art said...

That is so cute. Wonderful idea for my daughter and daughter-in-laws. Thanks for sharing.

casserole said...

I love it!! I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-make-a-peasant-shirt-from-a-t-shirt/2010/08/03/

--Anne

Seamingly Smitten said...

I've never imagined a man's t-shirt could be turned into something cute and girly! Awesome job!

janet said...

Ingenious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Janet xox

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Ooh, now I could get into that!

Jennifer said...

Very excited to try this! Thank you!

Jennifer

Emily said...

How fabulous! I'm looking forward to trying this!

D comme Dom said...

Magnifique ! I wanted to try it but my serger didn't let me. (sorry for my bad english)

Stupid serger !

Mais j'essaierai plus tard.

Merci pour le tutorial.

saffiertje said...

Well done job! love this sooooo much! Easy as well!

InMyOwnStyle said...

This is a great idea and tutorial. I have always cut the crew neck off my t-shirts , but this makes a t-shirt really stylish. I especially love your tip about zig-zagging the edges to get the lettuce ruffle look.
Thanks -
My best Diane

Poppy said...

My husband's closet is about to be raided! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

Care said...

It's GORGEOUS!

I have a somewhat similar tutorial for a peasant top, but without the casing and ties -- which are FANTASTIC!

Can't wait to try yours!

JHill said...

Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party!

MessyMissy said...

Love it!! Thanks so much for sharing the pattern. I have always thought about recycling some mens white tees....but I pretty much stink at sewing. The tutorial is great!!

Lori said...

I love the shirt you made, casual yet put-together at the same time. I can't wait to give this a try. Thanks

Bromeliad said...

A-mazing. Love the elastic casing.

Practically Spent said...

This is just wonderful ~ the shirt, the explicit (yet easy) instructions. Thank you from those of us who don't really sew. Even I can do this.

she wears flowers said...

Cute! Visiting from Life in the Pitts...

Carla said...

I LOVE this!!!! Went out at lunchtime and bought a pack of T-shirts, can't wait to make this! :)

Robin said...

Adorable. I can not wait to make one of these

Scared Stitchless said...

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer said...

I tried this today! I am making Big & Little Brother and Sister t-shirts for my kids since I am due with a baby girl any day now. I didn't have a shirt in my "big girl's" size - but I did have a t-shirt that was 2 sizes too big! It worked great! Thank you so much! Here is a link to the shirt:

http://perrilyncreations.blogspot.com/2010/08/big-sister-shirt-in-makingthanks-to.html

Now I want to do some for myself!

Jennifer

Kathryn said...

Cute!

Millie said...

OH, wow....super cute and easy, thanks to your clear instructions. Thanks so much; I will definitely be making this, and will link back when I do.

Jennia said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this tutorial. You did an awesome job and the top is adorable!

Jay said...

Cute! I totally need to try this soon.

Trish said...

I just used your tute to make a top today. Great instructions! Fool proof!
Mine fit a bit snugger around the shoulders than I like so I'll give it to my teen daughter and make another for myself out of a shirt one size bigger.
Really love it though! Thanks!

Pamela said...

I tried this today, and apparently I used a heavier weight of t-shirt than you did. It didn't ruffle or drape nearly as cute as yours. I can't wait to try it again!

Michelle said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind words! I'm so glad others like this as much as I do. I think tomorrow I'll be making a pink one to go with a couple of other things in my closet. My t-shirt was a lightweight shirt, not a heavier knit, which I definitely think affects the drape.

Thank you for your comments, too - I love reading them, and it feels good to know I'm not writing into a void on the Internet ;-).

Have a great weekend!

Anne K. said...

Have made three of these and podcasted about them this past weekend. Thank you so much for such a super idea!

quietandsmalladventures said...

oh this is awesome!! you just saved my SSS from a dire lack of shirts!

Sarah said...

I'm sooo glad I found your blog! I'm just starting into wardrobe re-fashioning and this tutorial is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

ohoneydew said...

I love this! I just grabbed one of my hubby's old shirts and I'm trying it out right now. Thanks for sharing!

Aleena said...

great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

Funny Shirts

Nicki said...

A teenage girl from my church wanted me to sew her a medieval peasant costume. I had no idea what to sew and then found this. Your instructions are easy to follow and it came out GREAT! Thank you SO MUCH!

Rachel said...

Thanks for this great tutorial! I linked to it for costuming for our school musical...

Michelle said...

This is amazing! If I thought I could sew that straight I would make it for sure. I bet you have a lot of projects that would be great for my DIY under $5 party!

Pia said...

Thanks for the beautiful tutorial! Brilliant idea! Ciaoooo Pia

Diana said...

Wow, this is too cute! You make it seem so easy, can't wait to try.

Jen Conlon said...

Great tutorial! You've been featured on the Quality Sewing Tutorials blog.

We hand select only the best free tutorials and patterns for the home sewist.

Grab a brag button!

Foot of the Cross Ministries said...

THANK YOU so much for sharing this tutorial! I tried it and it turned out so very cute (and modest!)!!! The only goof was I should have left the length longer and used a larger shirt!!!! I am going to tye dye it and wear it with my blue jean skirts. Thanks again!!!

Michelle said...

I'm so glad you liked it and it was useful! Thanks for commenting!

June said...

Thanks for the clear tutorial. I works great. I posted a photo of my version on my blog.

http://re-groovenate.blogspot.ca/

lorraine said...

I altered the directions a little because the sleeves pulled. I cut them open along the seam (actually I cut OUT the seam), curved off the corners, and sewed a 'lettuce' edge on the raw edges.

Leaping Frog Design's said...

Thank you so much..Going to try this one!!

Monica said...

Great tutorial!...appreciate your ability to communicate here. Not assuming that everyone knows how to sew. Thank you! This is just adorable!

Kate Z. said...

Just made an old soccer tournament tshirt into this cute top....thanks so much for the tutorial! Never thought I would wear this shirt again!

Dianne said...

I am SO trying this!!.. the only I didn't understand was the neck part and using the waist band..? I'm a lil slow I guess LOL
thank you for teaching!

Anonymous said...

Going to try this!!!! Too cute

Franson Funny Farm said...

Love this and made two of them for me! One question, though...when run thru the wash, the lettuce edges roll up. Any tricks to keep them from doing this? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I made a few changes as I am "plus sized" - I cut the bottom seam of the sleeves so that they are flutter sleeves, and I cut slits in each side to accommodate my hips (I might not have needed to had I found a shirt in a color I liked in a larger size). I love this tutorial, it was so easy to follow and the shirt turned out exactly as I'd hoped it would!!

Patty M said...

Amazing! Husband coaches HS Football and over the years has collected T's that he never wears. I transformed one in less than 30 min. And I wore it to a family BBQ and got tons of complements. Thank You for Sharing

Holly Helfrick said...

This is an amazing idea! I am thinking you can do a peasant dress with a tall mans T-shirt! I'm only 5'2" so it wouldn't take much for a T-shirt to be a dress on me

Francine Johnson McGee said...

I love this tute! Made one today, except I messed up cutting off the hem and didn't have a tube. I improvised, and it worked, but next time it will be perfect. Thanks for sharing!

Susana said...

Gran gran idea!ya mire las camisetas que pasare por la tijera.por Gracias por compartir.

Scoopyloo said...

Just found your blog on Pinterest and I rarely leave blog messages for people, but had to leave a thank you message here because your tutorial was SO well written! So thank you! I'm going to look around here some more though, I think I'm going to like it here. And I'm going to re-pin this tutorial on pinterest if that is ok.

kathyinozarks said...

I found you threw Meredith-love this

TACIStudio said...

I found you through Meredith and love yr blog. I'm just learning how to sew but I'm going to try this one... Just love it :)

pgc02 said...

I am new to sewing (at 56 - lol!) and teaching myself. You make this seem possible! Thanks for the easy to follow tutorial.

heather said...

Fantastic tutorial! The elastic casing made from the hem is such a great idea. The shirt I used was pretty wide so I'm thinking about adding some elastic or shirring under the bust, but I haven't decided yet. Fast and easy project. Thanks, I love it!

lori said...

Anyway to do this by hand sewing?

Michelle said...

Lori,

I don't know why you couldn't. I've never done it (I don't usually have the patience for hand sewing), but I can't think of anything that would be done differently. Let me know how it turns out if you do it!

Heavenly Rosalie said...

This is such a great idea! Your shirt looks so cute. Thank you for sharing this tutorial!

Greetings from Germany :-)
Rosalie

emmalee said...

Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to try it.

Emmalee said...

It was fun to make, and it turned out! Thanks again for sharing.

Kit Cat said...

This looks awesome. I just got a sewing machine for christmas and never sewed before. This will make a great first time project. I'm also looking for some other easy peasant top tutorials. Do you have any or know where I can get some online?

2ofum said...

So excited to get started on my tops! I just wanted to let you know that I featured your tute in my blog post today. You can check it out here: http://2ofum.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/the-to-do-list/
Thanks so much for your great blog! Love it!!

Anonymous said...

This is a great tutorial. I just wish you didn't have to imply that all women are small and dainty and all men are big dirty brutes. I'll be using a baggy t-shirt of my own, TYVM, because my man's shirts wouldn't be large enough to create this drapey, ruffled look. Except I'll have to choose with care because my baggy t-shirts are more likely to be dirty and stained from outdoor work than his!

Michelle said...

Glad you like the tutorial! I don't think I implied that men are brutish and women are dainty, though - just that in my house, my husband's shirts are bigger than mine and he does most of the outside work, so they're definitely more stained than mine. Good thing, though, or else we'd have no yard and the grass would never be mowed :-). Thanks for reading!

RyFri said...

I'd like to see this with rousching on the waist to make it closer fitting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this tut. It was very easy to follow your instructions and it came out great. I also loved how there was little waste of the t-shirt. Well there was no waste, because I used the collar to make a t towel bib for a baby gift. Thank you so very much.
Ms T

Michelle said...

I'm so glad it worked out well for you! I still wear my original shirt often, so I know it holds up well, too :-) Thank you for your nice feedback!

Gail said...

Love this tutorial. thank you.

Nee Vov said...

Above t-shirt tutorial is best for women.

http://www.neevov.com also offers to purchase international export quality clothing direct from factory.

mishyam said...

I decided to give this a try. Didn't take long to make at all...it was so easy! I've been looking for ideas for tops I can make to wear to work. I would like to make some in several different colors.

Thank you for the tutorial!

Susan Huffman said...

I saw this pinned on Pinterest one day last week and decided to give it a shot today. I have to say it was the easiest shirt I have ever made! I am going to make LOTS more of these and dress them up using some colorful ribbons for the elastic tunnel and leave some excess of the ribbon to use as the tie in the front. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!

Delving Eye said...

Love it! Can I buy one from you?

Anonymous said...

Made my niece a shirt with this. Easy and cute!

Genie said...

I just found a mens 2XL tshirt of my old university - 3 states away at the thrift store. It of course had to come home with me! I have been looking for a fun re-fashion that still looked nice and was comfy... this is it! Thanks so much for the tutorial! Will add this to my to-sew pile!

Isabel de Gonzalez said...

Lovely!mthank you for sharing !

 

Back to TOP

Glamour Bomb Templates