How to Restyle a T-Shirt With Pin Tuckscomments (23) February 24th, 2009
I've always been a fan of pin tucks, those tiny stitched pleats often seen on vintage blouses or dresses. They add a dimensional element, but each one also uses up a smidge of fullness, and that fact means they can be used to add shape to something shapeless, like the ubiquitous boxy T-shirt. Traditionally, they run parallel and very close together, but I like to shake up the rules a little. You can use this technique to practically sculpt the fit of the shirt, without creating any new seams! So find yourself a big old T-shirt, a ruler, a tape measure, and some chalk or a disappearing pen, and let's get busy...
1. Trim your T-shirt. We're going to take off the neckband and sleeves so we're left with a sleeveless chemise. To cut the neck symmetrically, fold the T-shirt along the center front and center back, overlapping the shoulder seams.
Next, cut, starting at the center front a few inches below the neckband and continuing in a smooth curve around to the center back, close to the band.
Then cut the sleeves off, just inside the armhole seams.
2. Using the ruler, begin drawing the lines for your pin tucks in a design that you like. Be creative! I did tucks radiating out around the neckline and over the shoulders, leaving 1 inch free at the raw neck and sleeve edges for a ruffled effect. I also plotted a large diamond shape at the center back, centered at the lower back where your waist is smallest. Remember that each pin tuck will nip out about 1/4 inch of fullness, and this can add up quickly! So you may want to measure your T-shirt and yourself, find the difference, and make sure your tucks won't take out any more than that measurement.
3. Sew the tucks. Choose any tuck to begin, and fold the shirt right on your marked line. With the fold on your right, stitch from the top of the line and begin sewing (don't forget to backstitch!) 1/8 inch over from the fold.
Continue down to the bottom tip of the line and backstitch again. You may find it helpful to place a pin at the top and bottom to mark where your line begins and ends. Repeat for every tuck around. I find it easiest to work the tucks from right to left, but experiment to see what works for you.
4. If desired, unpick the bottom hem of the T-shirt to maximize the length and have all raw edges (which I prefer).
That's it! Looks difficult, but it was really pretty easy wasn't it?