Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Post: Tutorial for Shirring

Hi All! My name is Abby and I'm here from GouldThreads. This is my second guest post here on Monkey See Monkey Do! You might remember my first post from just a few weeks back on how to crochet flowers.

Today I will be showing you how to turn an old t-shirt into a new shirt, skirt, or dress! My sister Kim first made herself a skirt after reading this post from "sew like my mom". Kim then showed me how to make one, and now I am going to show you!!!

Before we get started I must warn you that I am NOT a sewer! I knit, I crochet, but I do not sew. If you are interested in seeing some of my knit or crochet creations you can find me by searching for GouldThreads on Facebook or visit my Etsy site at

Ok, back to our tutorial. Like I was saying, I'm not a sewer. In fact I don't even own a sewing machine (but I did borrow my sister's for a week to make the items that I'm about to show you, Thanks KIM!!!!).

Sewer or not once you get started making your own upcycled skirts, shirts, and dresses you won't want to stop! They are that EASY and FUN to make.

To get started you will need: elastic thread, a few bobbins, a spool of regular thread, some old (but nice) t-shirts, and a sewing machine.
If you are making an adult skirt or shirt you will need a men's t-shirt size Large or bigger. If you are making a child's dress, shirt, or skirt you will want to use a women's shirt size small-XL depending on the size of your child.

I happened to go to my local thrift store and bought 2 men's shirts for myself and 2 women's shirts for my 1 year old daughter. I believe that I got all 4 shirts for under $4!!!!

Here is one of my old shirts that I turned into.....

This Dress for my daughter! The shirt was a women's size small and was the perfect length for a dress for my nearly 1-year old.

Ok--are you ready to learn how to make one for yourself? Here we go!

First you will need to hand-wind a bobbin using elastic thread. You will probably want to wind several bobbins before you start sewing. I think I used 3 or 4 bobbins to make myself a skirt and just 1 bobbin for each item that I made for my daughter. I have to admit that this is the worst part of the entire project but push through the frustration, it will be worth it in the end!

Be careful not to pull the elastic while winding it or it will be all stretched out and will not work properly.

Next, you want to take your shirt and cut it off right under the armpit (or lower if making a skirt for a small child)

Once your bobbins are wound you thread your machine like normal and begin to sew! I started with the edge of my foot petal on the edge of my fabric. I also started each row near a seam and back petaled a few stitches to hold the thread (please forgive me if I am using incorrect lingo, like I stated earlier I don't typically work a sewing machine!)

As you can see in this picture the material will start to scrunch up as soon as you start to sew. Those little scrunched up rows are so addicting you might just get carried away!!!!

Once the first row is complete cut your thread and begin a second row the same as the first (near a seam with a couple of back stitches). I worked each row so my foot petal followed along the previous row (about 1/4 inch between rows).

As you sew gently pull the fabric so that the new stitches are sewn into smooth fabric and not into the scrunched up fabric.
Work as many rows as you want. I used about 8-12 rows depending on the project.

Here is a skirt that I made for my daughter from one of my old shirts.

So here is the finished skirt! Sorry that I didn't get a photo of her from the front. My daughter is almost one now and very busy, too busy to stop and get her picture taken!
This is a skirt I made for myself using a man's size Large shirt. In person the skirt is kelly green, I'm not sure why the photo turned out like this. Anyways, I love it! Its super comfortable and easy enough to dress up with cute shoes and jewelry!

I am a pretty small person so you may need to use a men's XL shirt for yourself for extra width or length. I just walked through the thrift store holding men's shirts up to my waist to find one that I thought would work. If you don't mind doing a little more sewing you could even buy some cute fabric and sew a seam up the back and hem the bottom.
Here is shirt I made for my daughter! This was originally a 3/4 sleeved women's shirt, size small (another thrift store find). I just love the colors! If you want to add a halter strap like I did just take some of the left over fabric and sew to the inside of your shirt or dress.

I hope that you found this tutorial to be helpful. I was telling a friend of mine about these skirts and shirts and she suggested shirring the top and bottom to make an adults tube top! What a great idea, I just might have to try that next.


  1. i've always wondered how to do this, thanks for the tutorial!!!

  2. Yay! Thanks for sharing this fun and useful tutorial, Abby! I can't wait to get my machine set up again to try it...


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