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How To Make a T-Shirt Skirt

Making a t-shirt skirt requires only one or two old t-shirts.

A t-shirt can be transformed into a skirt. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A t-shirt can be transformed into a skirt.

How to Make a T-Shirt Skirt

Since there is little cost in making the garment, learning how to make a t-shirt skirt is an ideal project for a novice sewer. Turning a vintage t-shirt into a different garment allows for plenty of creativity, giving owners a chance to show off their design. With many different types of t-shirt skirts available, such as a maternity skirt, one made of a t-shirt and extra fabric or embellishments, or just a skirt made out of one t-shirt, the sewer can extend the t-shirt's lifespan by simply making a few cuts and stitches.

Types of T-Shirt Skirts

There are many varieties of t-shirt skirts. The most common designs are made from one or more t-shirts and nothing else other than some thread. Some designs involve adding extra, separate fabric to create the skirt, making it resemble more of a dress than a skirt. Others involve using more than one t-shirt and intermixing them to form one garment.

For those women who are expecting, t-shirt skirts can also be made to accommodate expanding bellies. Since most t-shirts are made of flexible cotton material, maternity skirts are an ideal project for any type of sewer. Since the waistband is created from a t-shirt, the wearer already owns and has worn, it's a given that the material fits.

Supplies Needed

Depending upon the type of t-shirt skirt being constructed, the materials may fluctuate. But the basic supplies needed to make a t-shirt skirt or t-shirt dress include:

  • One or more t-shirts
  • Extra fabric (optional)
  • Ruler or yardstick
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Fabric scissors
  • Seam ripper (optional)
  • Sewing machine fashioned with thread that matches t-shirt fabric or needle with matching thread
  • Straight pins
  • Ribbon or string for drawstring with safety pin
  • Embellishments (optional)

The sewer may find that additional items are needed, especially if a pattern is used. T-shirt skirt patterns may provide a list of necessary items, and the same with most online sites containing patterns, depending upon the source.

Standard T-Shirt Skirt

Since the basis for the t-shirt skirt is a t-shirt, the sewer should find an old t-shirt, preferably one that still fits well. According to Craft magazine, the best t-shirts are one or two inches wider than the widest part of the wearer's hip measurement. The sewer measures the wearer's waist and determines the desired length of the skirt. Once the number is figured out, the sewer adds an extra inch on either side for seam allowance and an additional inch to the length of the skirt if there will be a drawstring.

Turning the fabric inside-out, the sewer uses either a seam ripper to tear open the hems or scissors to cut the length off the t-shirt. It may be as little as cutting merely the hem; however, as much as several inches could be trimmed. If the t-shirt has a v-neck, the sewer should cut the shirt horizontally starting at the V, creating a rectangle. If the shirt has a pattern, perhaps from a rock band or other event, the sewer can choose to cut further down to compensate for the added design.

Adding a Drawstring

For a drawstring, the sewer should fold, pin and stitch the top of the skirt down one inch while the t-shirt is still inside-out. According to Threadbanger, the best sewing machine stitch to use on t-shirt material is the number-two zigzag stitch. This can help retain the stretch in the shirt.

The sewer then stitches the sides of the skirt together and turns the skirt right-side out. Scissors should be used to pierce a hole in the middle of the waistband, being careful to not cut all the way through both sides of the fabric. The sewer should pierce the ribbon or string with a safety pin, as this can assist in threading the string through the waistband. Once its pulled taut, the sewer should leave the ends dangling to tie together once worn. To prevent the drawstring from disappearing into the waistband, it's best to knot the ends. Depending upon the style of the skirt, embellishments can add extra flare; lace can provide exquisiteness and even extra fabric stitched or ironed on can jazz up the new skirt. The possibilities abound, depending upon the sewer's expertise and taste.

T-Shirt Skirt Variations

Although the novice sewer prefers a simpler t-shirt skirt design, more experienced sewers can find challenging patterns available online. Fitted, pencil t-shirt skirts are one of the more complex designs since it involves basting the material and a fitted waist. Or, instead of a fitted waist, suspenders or jumper skirts are an option; these can ensure the skirt stays up since there's no cinched waist.

To make a maternity t-shirt skirt, the sewer should cut one of the t-shirts into a rectangular shape. This can best be done by ripping out the hem and several inches off the top. The ideal way to do this is to cut the top directly below the sleeves or arm holes. This rectangle becomes the expandable waistband, which can be as large as the expecting mom desires. From there, the sewer determines how long the skirt should be, measuring from the bottom of the waistband down the leg.

Using either one t-shirt or several, the sewer cuts panels from the material. For example, if there are to be 6 panels, the sewer divides the wearer's waist measurements by 6 (the number of panels) and adds an inch for seam allowance. If the wearer's waist is 30 inches, that divided by 6 is 5, plus 1 inch equals 6 inches. This is the measurement for the top of the panel. The width should be at least 1 inch wider than the top measurement. It's a good idea for the sewer to make a pattern to cut out all the panels; this can ensure all the panels are the same size. The best way to assemble the skirt from here is to pin and stitch each panel together, using the inch seam allowance and creating a circle. Once sewn together, the waistband is pinned to the top and also stitched.

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