Tutorial: Recycled T-Shirt Pillow Cover.

It’s not news to anyone that I like to recycle t-shirts.  One of my favorite Goodwill finds is either a solid color children’s t-shirt for freezer paper stenciling, a big t-shirt for making into a superhero cape for the boys or a ruffled tank top for myself, or a fun printed t-shirt to make into a shirt for the boys.  The other week I found an awesome t-shirt and knew I had to make it into something, so I made this…

Making a pillow cover is about one of the best beginner sewing projects you can find.  The instructions are simple, and the knit fabric of a t-shirt is very forgiving.  This works great with a regular cotton fabric or a heavier decorator fabric as well.

Step One:  Measure your pillow insert from side seam to side seam, then top seam to bottom seam.  Mine was a 16″x16″ square.  Add about 1″ to each measurement before cutting the front piece of your pillow cover.  In my case, the front piece was a 17″x17″ square. (I forgot to take a photo of this, SORRY!)

Step Two: The great thing about a t-shirt is that you don’t have to finish any raw edges!  I used the bottom edges of the front and back of the shirt to create two pieces for the back of the pillow.  No matter what size your pillow insert is you will cut one back piece about 3″ shorter than the top to bottom of your front piece.  Then cut a second piece about 9″ shorter than your front piece.  The width of the pieces will be the same as the width of the front piece.  These two back pieces will overlap the back of the pillow.  Notice how the bottom edges are the bottom of the t-shirt.

My back pieces were 8″x17″ and 14″x17″.

Step Three: Place the front piece of the cover right side up on the floor.  Place the larger back piece, with raw edges matching, finished edge at the bottom and right side down, on top of the front piece.

Step Four: Place the shorter back piece on top of the other pieces, bottom raw edges together, finished edge at the top, right side down.

Step Five: Pin the edges together and sew around all of the edges with a 1/4″ inseam (or serge).  Turn the whole thing right side out, put in the pillow insert, and you’re done!

(I think he likes it.)

Men’s T-shirt to Ruffle Tank Top tutorial.

I do love recycling men’s T-shirts.  I can go to the Goodwill and get an extra large tee for $1.25, come home with it, and make it into a lap tee for Luke, a pair of pants for Levi, or in this case, a ruffle tank for me!

Materials needed:
a tank that you like that you already have (for making a pattern)
tracing paper or sewing paper to trace your pattern onto
L/XL T-shirt of your choice
1/4″ elastic (enough to fit snuggly around your waist, and then a little bit.
sewing machine
stretch needle for your machine

1.  Take your tank top and fold it in half lengthwise.  Trace around the tank top.

2.  Lay out your XL t-shirt and cut off the sleeves, then cut up the sides and at the shoulders so that you have a front piece and a back piece.

3.  Fold the front piece in half and lay your pattern piece on the fold, with the inside edge of the pattern on the fold.  Make sure to line up the bottom of your pattern with the bottom of the t-shirt, you want to use the original bottom of the t-shirt later as a casing for elastic.  Pin into place and cut around the pattern.

4.  Repeat step #3 with the back piece.

5.  With your leftover t-shirt scraps, cut about 4 long strips of t-shirt, about 1″ wide.  Set those aside.  These will serve as the neck and arm hole trim.

6.  Right sides together, sew the front and back pieces together at the shoulders and finish the seam with a serger or zig zag stitch.

7.  Now take two of those strips of t-shirt material that you made in step #5.  Open up the shirt and lay it flat so that your neck line looks like a circle.  Start sandwiching the neck line into the strip of material, pinning as you go.  Go all the way around the neck line, overlapping the strips of fabric if you run out before you make it all the way around the neck line

8.  Stitch around the neckline at the raw edge of the trim.

9.  Grab your elastic and pin a safety pin to one end.  Thread it through the bottom band of the front panel of the tank top.  You are using the casing that was created when you cut the original t-shirt apart, easy-peasy, huh?  When you get your pin and elastic all the way through, secure the elastic by sewing across the band.  Back stitch to make it nice and secure.

10.  Bunch the material a little bit so that the bottom of the front of the tank top is gathered, then secure the elastic on that end just as you did on the other.  Repeat steps 9 and 10 for the back of the shirt.

11.  Right sides together, pin the side seams together and sew with about 1/4″-1/2″ inseam.  Finish with a serger or zig zag stitch. 

12.  Now you have a choice.  You can finish the arm holes with the leftover strips of fabric that you cut, of you can leave them raw.  It’s totally up to you.  If you choose to finish them off, just do it the exact same way as you did the neck line.

You can stop right here, or you can embellish a little bit!  

I decided to add a little ruffle to the neck line of my tank top.  I cut a strip from the scraps of the t-shirt, about 10″-12″ long and 1 1/2″ wide.  I sewed a line of basting stitches (set your stitch length to its longest length) right down the middle.  Pulling on end of the bobbin thread, I gathered the material into a ruffle that looked good to me.  I pinned it along the neck line of my top and stitched right down the middle to attach it (Don’t forget to set your stitch length back to normal).  Voila!
You can add more ruffles anywhere you want, I just like a more simple look, but I didn’t want it completely plain.

What do you think?  
Not a bad improvement from a big old men’s t-shirt, right?
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