Sunday, September 12, 2010

Embellished T-shirts: Adding ruffles

I am currently in the process of posting projects to this website that I've completed over this past year. I got my sewing machine for Christmas a year ago and haven't stopped sewing since!

Okay, now back to adding ruffles to spruce up ordinary t-shirts...

Ruffling a t-shirt neckline is a great project for a beginner. It's simple to do and gives you a little confidence for future projects.

These were my first ruffled tee's. I simply cut a new neckline on the existing t-shirt and made the ruffles from a clearance rack t-shirt. [*I recommend finding a shirt with an existing neckline you already like and embellishing it instead of cutting a new one...less complicated! Cut necklines tend to stretch out of shape easily.]

This is how the t-shirt started...high neckline...blah...not what I wanted.

And this is what it became...a delicately ruffled neckline, in a snap:

And I liked it so much, I also did it to a matching black t-shirt:

Blahzay before:
Sweetly ruffled after:
(sorry, working with black on black the pictures are hard to see)

For the next black t-shirt I wanted a bit more ruffle. I was inspired by this ruffled tank made by Lex (I think she's amazing).

So I started with this:

And after a little ruffle mania, ended up with this:

This, to date, is probably one of my favorite ruffled shirts.
Okay, so how did I do it?
Here are some play-by-plays-

For these t-shirt makeovers, I started with an existing shirt and purchased clearance rack t-shirts at Old Navy ($2.50-$4.00) to cut-up and use for ruffles.

The first step for my t-shirts was to cut the new neckline. I folded the shirt in half, matching the shoulder seams together, and pinned it, like this:

Make sure you smooth out any wrinkles before you cut.
If you have a t-shirt neckline you like already, use it as a guide.
It's always easier to cut more off later, so start small if you're unsure.

After cutting the new neckline, I sewed a stay-stitch (I used a ballpoint needle for jersey material.) A stay-stitch is used to keep the new neckline from stretching out too much. Here is an example of the white shirt's stay-stitch. *Note: I learned that even with a stay-stitch there still is some stretch to it, so be careful.

Next I cut strips for the ruffles. For the white t-shirt I think I cut 1 inch wide strips. For the first black t-shirt with the short ruffled neckline I cut 1-1/2" wide strips; for the long ruffled black tee it was 2" wide.

Cut ruffle strips that are about double the length of the neckline or more. Having more is better because you can always cut off what you don't need.

Here is my white clearance rack t-shirt-
From that, I cut the strips (I actually used a cutting blade for a smooth, straight edge, not scissors):

There are a few different ways to make ruffles. The ruffles I made on my pillow came from using the basting foot on my machine and making huge stitches down the middle. Then, I scrunched it up by pulling the threads from each end.

For the white t-shirt ruffle I used the longest stitch on my machine with a regular foot and then pulled either end to scrunch it.

For the black t-shirt with the shorter-ruffled neckline, I let my machine create the ruffle by setting my machine on the highest tension and widest stitch and stitching down the center. It was like magic. The tension pulled the material behind the stitch into a ruffle.

For the long ruffled black tee I did machine ruffling as well, but instead of sewing down the center, I stitched down the edge, to create a different look.

After creating the ruffles I pinned them to the new neckline, like this. I pinned it so the ruffle hung above the neckline by maybe 1/4".

For the white tee I sewed the ruffle on with a zig-zag stitch. For the black t-shirts I used a straight stitch. For ruffles I think I like the zig-zag but try both and see which you like best.

Take your pins out as you go, before they head under the needle.
Sorry for the choppy semi-tutorial. Hopefully they'll get better as I go. It's helped me a lot to see trips from other people. Hopefully I'll figure out how to successfully pass them on!

Happy sewing!!

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