Hiking Dresses from T-Shirts

comments (7) June 9th, 2008 in gallery     

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RachelPhilips RachelPhilips, member
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Lately I have been making stacks of dresses out of recycled t-shirts. I am small so two large shirts make a dress. I start with a dark base and add a lighter contrast for flair, and widen her and taper there... I am looking at styles from the 1920 to the present, Olive Oil meets Audry Hepurn, easy to travel in and up to date for my active lifestyle.
Some of the hiking dresses have digital embroidery. I am learning how to use my own designs in stitch as well as form. All of the dresses are easy to wear and maintain. I tend to use a serger to assemble and add width into the bottom hem so I can walk with full strides.
I had a nutty idea here of carrying water and other items up on the shoulders. It was novel but not successful. The sliming effect of the diagonal lines is a keeper in this one.
Lately I have been making stacks of dresses out of recycled t-shirts. I am small so two large shirts make a dress. I start with a dark base and add a lighter contrast for flair, and widen her and taper there... I am looking at styles from the 1920 to the present, Olive Oil meets Audry Hepurn, easy to travel in and up to date for my active lifestyle. Lately I have been making stacks of dresses out of recycled t-shirts. I am small so two large shirts make a dress. I start with a dark base and add a lighter contrast for flair, and widen her and taper there... I am looking at styles from the 1920 to the present, Olive Oil meets Audry Hepurn, easy to travel in and up to date for my active lifestyle. Photo: self made photos, designs, and mistakes

Hiking Dresses came to me as a practical solution to living in conservative Cupertino California and needing to look put together while feeling comfortable. I enjoy wearing these 100% cotton dressy t-shirts in town or out on the trails.


Pattern or design used: My own design - Rachel Philips
posted in: gallery, dress, sewing, t-shirt, serger, outdoors, recycle clothing, hiking, t-shirt recycle

Comments (7)

dawncreated writes: I love the idea of using T-shirts to make these hiking dresses and I have a niece who is sewing T-shirts to make outfits for her school fashion show and I can't wait to tell her about your designs, these are AWESOME!!!
Posted: 9:01 am on May 15th
CalPatch writes: these are fantastic! i've reconstructed lots of T's but haven't made too many dresses out of them. i especially love your hooded one!
Posted: 12:57 am on September 24th
modcherie writes: I would make one for myself. In fact, I can let you know how it goes. I wouldn't make them for another person without their specific measurements.

your pricing sounds right on. I would definitely pay $90 for one.

Thanks! Fabulous idea!
Posted: 9:55 pm on July 20th
RachelPhilips writes: Warm Summer Greetings,
Hi there, here's a few more photos & info, a question for you - and
answers in the form of a quick overview to guide you to make your own hiking dress


I just put up more photos of this body of work on my web page:

http://www.funfurvests.com/hikingdress/index.html


I find using a four thread serger overlock stitch very helpful in working with t-shirt knits but this machine is a luxury and knits can be sewn with a regular sewing machine doing a baste stitch followed by a stretch stitch to make strong, lasting seams. It is also wonderful that we are in an age of less finished edges so I choose raw cut edges over hems. My own shape is my guide as I do not have any patterns and I am my only dress-form so I just keep moving forward as I design as I hope you will too.

These are made of cotton knit, with a wide stride for hiking up hills and are made from recycled T-shirts.
I have such fun in these dresses they are super easy to wear and feel comfortable all day as activities change. They are as easy to care for as your favorite t-shirt. I wash them inside out and rub extra soap on any unfortunate spots and they come right out. I love having a big stack to choose from and get lots of compliments on them I hope you do too.

For more information contact me,
if you wear a size small, 4 - 6 ish - these proto-types fit you and I can send you one. If you need to size up this idea try XL shirts and or cotton knit yardage of a similar heavy weight.


before you are off - I have a few questions for you -

Does it seem like something you would try to sew or is it too difficult without a pattern / class?

If you saw this at a crafts vendor's booth is $90 - $150 about right?
I take between 2 to 5 hours to make a dress depending on the complexity.




Here's My Basic Guide to Making your Own Hiking Dress:

It takes me 2 large dark T-shirts + a brighter T-shirt scrap at least a 36" x 4" to make one size small dress.

For the skirt part. I cut off the sleeves and neckline just above the armpit strait across on the first T-shirt. Then cut the arm scraps into 2 long equilateral triangles, about 4" x 10". On lower edge of skirt tube, snip sides open 10" to sew in one triangle into each side with the widest 4"part on the bottom. I then cut off the commercially finished T-shirt lower edge as I even up where my triangles have joined the hemline.

I step into the skirt tube and start to plan where the contrasting element will go. I pick a feature spot on my body - low the bootie/hip or maybe high below the bust for an empire waist - decide where to place the contrasting accent tube and mark that on the inside of the skirt. In some cases if I want an extra long hemline and a high waist feature I may need to add more length especially if tall.

For the second shirt I also cut off the sleeves and neckline just above the armpit strait across. Inside out, I use a chalk line to design the neckline, shoulder and where the under arm seam starts. If the neckline design is beyond your current skill you can use a ladies t-shirt from the thrift shop as I did with the long sleeve pink one, just don't use the Man's Large T-shirt seams/neck for your dress top because it will look bulky and not so delicate as the rest of the construction.

After the top is together I ease the contrast band onto the bottom once both are about the same circumference. In sewing this together if any bulge occurs, I push the extra into the side seams. It's important to match up where the color bands meet up on the sides, above the band match up the joined contrast seams with a pin and sew over the side seam again.

If the fit is not tight enough for my waist to show I tend to make a straight seam up the back and nip in the whole thing in. I then shape that top & contrast band onto the skirt being careful to work only on the inside, and adjusting the skirt side seams (match up the joined contrast seams with a pin and go over the side seam again below contrast) to make all lines flow together nicely and not be ill matched.

To finish, I sometimes add embroidery to the bottom or back or a neat-o -trim that can also provide a finished look.

Good luck and keep it playful.


Posted: 6:58 pm on June 20th
mini_vampire writes: those are awesome but im not sure how you'd hike in them they're kind of fancy but awesome in every other way
Posted: 10:10 am on June 16th
MadameJess writes: very cute
Posted: 1:46 pm on June 12th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Okay, can I just say that these are AWESOME! I want them all. I just moved to Seattle from NYC and the style vibe here is very different. These dresses are the perfect snazzy casual. I would love to run in to you wearing one of these hiking--I'd be following you up the mountain asking how you did it:-)
Posted: 7:57 pm on June 11th
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