How to Make a Two-Color A-Line Tee Skirt

comments (21) June 28th, 2013     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Sew a twirly skirt with two coordinating recycled tees!
For a deconstructed style, you can leave the bottom edges crooked.
You can choose to add a drawstring tie or elastic band for a tighter fit.
Sew a twirly skirt with two coordinating recycled tees!

Sew a twirly skirt with two coordinating recycled tees!

Photo: Pete Bejarano
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I love making skirts in the springtime, and while playing around with some recycled T-shirts a couple of years ago, I came up with this design, which I still love! I've made four skirts like this so far, and plan on making many more! All you really need are two T-shirts and a sewing machine, but you can choose to add an elastic or drawstring waistband for extra security, or if you're a more experienced sewer, I'm sure you could add your own touches to make your skirt a bit more elaborate. This basic design is simple enough for anyone who can use scissors and sew a straight line!

You'll need:

  • Two T-shirts, approximately the same size (details below)
  • Scissors (and a rotary cutter is helpful)
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk or fabric marker
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Elastic tape or drawstring material (optional)

For your T-shirts, it will work better if they are similar thickness and stretchiness, and, of course, choose coordinating colors. By following the instructions exactly, the bigger the shirts are, the more your skirt will flare out, but if you want to use big T-shirts without so much flare, you can just cut your pieces smaller. This also goes for if you want to use two different sizes-you can cut the bigger shirt's pieces to be the same size as the smaller shirt. Keep in mind your skirt's length will be a bit shorter than the shortest T-shirt's length, so don't choose too-small shirts.

  I chose these two similarly sized shirts (adult M and L) in colors that look good together.

Start by cutting each T-shirt into two big rectangles, front and back. Cut the front first, as wide as possible inside where the sleeves come into the body and just below the collar.

  Cut the biggest rectangle you can fit in the front of the shirt.

Then cut the same size from the back. Repeat for the other shirt-you can use the first shirt's rectangle as a template, but it's not necessary that they are exactly the same size.

  You should have four big rectangles like this.

Next, you need to measure your waist, then divide that number by 8, and we'll call that X. Mine worked out super easily because my waist where I measured was 88 cm, so that gave me 11 cm exactly for X. Lay out a fabric rectangle and mark X in from one end at the top (across the shorter side). I added 1 extra centimeter for seam allowance, but that resulted in my skirt being too big to stay on without adding an elastic band, so I recommend not adding a seam allowance (unless you plan to add elastic or a drawstring).

  If you want your skirt to stay on without adding a waistband, do not add extra seam allowance to X.

Then mark X in from the other end on the opposite side. Use your tape measure or a ruler to connect the two spots and mark a line between them.

  Mark a line diagonally between X in from one side and X in from the other side.

Cut along the line, either with scissors or with a rotary cutter.

  Eight panels like these will make up your skirt.

Repeat those steps for each of the four rectangles, cutting the diagonal line in the same direction on each one. It doesn't matter what direction, as long as all four are cut the same (in my case, they were all from top right to bottom left). Then decide what order to place the panels. I like to place the panels with pictures close together to make the front of the skirt, with the blank panels at the back.

  Lay the panels next to each other on the ground to see how they look together if you need to.

Once you have the panels in order, sew the first two together with right sides facing, lining up the top edges. The bottom edges will not line up; just sew until you reach the end of the shorter side and lock your stitch there.

  A zigzag stitch is best for sewing T-shirt fabric to keep the seams stretchable.

Continue across for each panel, joining the next one to the end, one after another. Then join the last and the first together, the same as all the rest. After this, you can decide how much more you want to do to finish your skirt, if anything.

  The basic skirt can be done now, if you like it!

The bottom edges will be all crooked; I like to cut each panel's bottom straight across and leave the edges raw, since T-shirt fabric doesn't unravel. If you want to sew a hem, go for it!

  You may decide to leave the edges crooked and messy, for a deconstructed look.

I used my rotary cutter for this part, since I don't trust my hands to cut perfectly straight with scissors. I just lined up my straightedge from the bottom of one side to the bottom of the other side and cut a narrow triangle off each panel.

  A rotary cutter comes in handy for trimming the bottom edges.

If your skirt fits well, you can be done now, or just sew the top edge under to make a hem. Since T-shirts are knit fabric, the stretchiness means you can make the simplest skirt ever, with no zipper, buttons, drawstring, snaps, etc., which also means it's the most comfortable skirt ever. But, if it's a little too big and you're worried it won't stay on securely, it's easy to add a simple drawstring or elastic band. I solved this problem on mine by folding the top edge under, sewing a hem, and threading a piece of elastic tape through. I sewed the elastic ends together and sewed the hole in the hem closed with the elastic inside.

  A piece of elastic cut to fit your waist, hidden inside a hem, will make for a perfect-fitting skirt!

Use the same idea, but thread a piece of ribbon or strip of fabric through the hem instead of elastic, cut two holes in the front or side of the hem, and you've got a drawstring! I used that idea with a necktie on this version of the skirt:

  This version uses a recycled necktie that got messed up in the washing machine as a drawstring tie.

This other one I made fit just right without any additions, so I just folded the top edge under and sewed a hem.

  This is the simplest version of the skirt, with nothing added to the waist.

If your skirt happens to turn out too small in the waist, that's an easy fix! Since the skirt gets wider as it goes down, you'll just need to cut it at whatever point it's the right size. Also, if you want a shorter skirt, just cut it up from the bottom wherever you want. If you do either of these modifications, be sure to either sew a hem or relock the bottoms of the seam stitches where you cut so they don't unravel.

  I like the length of this skirt, but it would be super easy to cut it shorter if I wanted to.

One more thing-don't throw away those leftover T-shirt scraps! There are so many crafty things they'll be great for! I love using T-shirt fabric for small projects (like my cuffs!) and embellishments like appliqués. T-shirt sleeves are actually a good amount of fabric; if you collect several of them, you could turn them into a patchwork quilt or something else crazy cool! Just keep them in your stash and the inspiration will come!

  I never throw away any T-shirt fabric scraps!
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posted in: fabric, sewstylish feature, wearable, recycle, skirt, t-shirt, a-line

Comments (21)

Catsnooze writes: When I saw this pattern I thought to myself that it would not be a flattering style for anyone but the most slender woman. You know, the gal who can wear any style just about and look good. I am not in that category. I looked at all 7 pics of people in their finished products and Deb, the extremely slender, was one of those few who actually looked good in it. The other one was a little girl. The rest, like me, would have looked better in something else.

My motto is, if you are fluffy, avoid fluffy styles. Fitted is better, unless you are stuffing yourself in it then it looks bad as well. I won't be making this skirt. If I were to make it I would make thinner, vertical strips and gather the top more. That way, the hem would already be done & the smaller "stripes"/strips of color would be more flattering. Still not recommended if your waistline measurement exceeds that of your hip.
Posted: 3:18 pm on August 17th
JeanFlorian writes: @bizbuzz: without a zigzag machine, when you sew knits there are some things to do to prevent the thread breaking. I assume your thread breaks after the thing is stitched together? Use a long stitch length, and slightly stretch the fabric as it sews. That way there is give to the seam so the thread won't break once it is finished.
Posted: 6:25 am on March 26th
DanaBee writes: This is so stinkin' cute! I knew there was a reason all these years to hold on to every t-shirt I ever owned.
Posted: 10:08 pm on March 10th
Flippincool writes: Great tute, Lee. I've posted a link to it in a summer tutorial post on my blog, The Handmade Experiment. Check it out at http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/must-make-monday-its-summer-tutes/

Thanks and have a great summer!
Emily
Posted: 1:38 pm on June 15th
cirone writes: i love all the t-shirt restyles!

i wonder if anyone has restyle ideas for men's shirts? i'd love to turn my husband's old shirts into wearable stuff for me :)
Posted: 11:26 am on June 12th
Sweet_Dee writes: LOVE! i am so gonna try this cool t-skirt! lol!
Posted: 8:19 pm on May 29th
smartstyle writes: I can't wait to start making mine!!
Posted: 7:01 pm on May 17th
bizbuzz writes: I've been trying to restyle a couple of tees similar to this and I'm having trouble with my thread breaking. I have an ancient machine that has no zigzag function. My question is: what tension/needle type/thread type should I be using when sewing tee shirts?
Posted: 10:13 am on May 15th
multicrafty writes: I just finished making this project! It was super easy, super fun, and the fit is awesome!!! I didn't add the seam allowance when cutting but still had to add an elastic casing for security. It is now my favorite skirt! Thank you so much for the project, I'll be making more!
Posted: 10:01 pm on May 10th
rainbowscuba writes: I love it too! Just made one for my little girl in about an hour. Will need to make more for everyone including myself!
Thanks so much!
Posted: 5:52 pm on May 7th
mommaviv writes: I love it! what a great way to use a treasured t-shirt that may have gotten a small stain or tiny rip in it too.














Posted: 10:00 pm on May 2nd
JennieC writes: Darling.
Posted: 7:22 pm on May 2nd
TraciP writes: Im going to make several! COOL!~~~
Posted: 3:31 pm on May 2nd
JenniferStern writes: Hey Meredith--Stylehive did a post about your skirt in their blog--very cool!
Posted: 6:29 pm on May 1st
CalPatch writes: oooh, i need to make a few of these! very cool...
Posted: 12:02 pm on May 1st
WendyQM writes: I made it! I LOVE it! It took about an hour. Great idea. I will try to upload a picture soon!

Posted: 11:50 pm on April 29th
NotWendy writes: See why you should never throw anything away? People who call me a packrat don't know how fun it can be. Sounds like a great project.
Posted: 2:46 pm on April 29th
lisamarie817 writes: I made one of these last night - I love it!!! It is, without a doubt, the most comfortable skirt in the world. It took me less than an hour from start to finish.

I discovered that if I stacked up all four rectangles face up before I made the diagonal cut then I could eliminate the crooked bottom edge altogether and have the colors still alternate properly. I just stitch the diagonal sides to diagonal sides and straight-grain sides to straight-grain sides.
Posted: 10:38 am on April 29th
GinnyRay writes: This is sew fun! I can't wait to dig through my basement and find t-shirts!
Posted: 9:40 pm on April 28th
lisamarie817 writes: i'm going downstairs right now to sew one up for myself!
Posted: 9:34 pm on April 28th
croqzine writes: Fun project! Thanks for sharing!
Posted: 12:32 pm on April 28th
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