How to Make a Flirty Flapper T-Shirt

comments (5) March 24th, 2009     

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CalPatch cal patch, contributor
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I just cant get enough restyling!
Here are the two unsuspecting befores.
Folding the neckline this way helps you cut it symmetrically.
I just cant get enough restyling!

I just can't get enough restyling!

Photo: Cal Patch

I like ruffles. But the classic gathered-type ruffle isn't always flattering, especially near the waist or hips. By cutting ruffles out of circles, curves, or spirals, you get a fluttery ruffle that's flat at the seamline and gently drapes at the outer edge. This top reminds me of something a modern-day flapper would wear!

You'll need two T-shirts in similar or complementary colors, scissors, tape measure, pins, and thread. One of the T's (the one that will be the body of the shirt) should fit you, and the other can be any size.

Here are the two unsuspecting "befores."

1. Trim your T-shirts. For the main body shirt, fold so that the center front is at one side and the center back at the opposite, with the shoulder seams stacked (see photo).

Folding the neckline this way helps you cut it symmetrically.

Cut a low V or scoop-neck; you may want to draw it with chalk if you're new at this.

I cut a nice low scoop-neck.

Looking better already!

2. Cut the bottom. Open up the shirt and cut a free-form quarter-circle from the hem to the side seam/fold, as in the photo. Ideally the top edge of the curve is near your waistline.

Here's how to cut the ruffle seam curve.

I also unpicked the hemstitching on the remainder of the bottom edge to maximize the length, but this is optional. Measure the length of the curved edge you just cut. Mine measured 13-1/2 inches. Jot this number down.

Measure this curve and take note.

3. Cut the circular ruffle. Now with the other T-shirt, find the biggest seamless area (usually the back) and fold it in quarters.

Fold the extra shirt into quarters...

Cut the largest quarter-circle you can from fold to fold, yielding a big circle of T-shirt fabric.

...and cut a quarter-circle...

...and you'll end up with a full circle!

Make sure the diameter of the circle is at least 3 to 4 inches bigger than the measurement you wrote down; if not, you'll need a bigger T or to piece together a bigger circle. This will become the ruffle at the hip. Now make a cut from the edge of the circle toward the center (past center is fine) that measures the length you wrote down.

Measure out the length of the curved edge...

...and cut a slit in the circle piece.

Open up the circle along the cut and you've got your drapey ruffle!

Here's how the ruffle will fit into the curve.

Cut a few extra curved strips from around the edges of where you cut the circle. These will be your sleeve and neckline ruffles.

These pieces will be cuff and neck ruffles. I cut some extras to play around with.

4. Sew the ruffles on. With right sides together, pin the center-cut edge of the circle to the curved edge of the body T, matching the end of the slit (which is the center of the ruffle) to the side seam/fold of the shirt. Seam with a stretch or tiny zigzag stitch (1.5 x 1.5mm) at a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Now pin on your sleeve ruffles, right sides together as shown (trim to fit or overlap two if you need to) and stitch as before.

Pin the ruffle to the cuff like this.

Finally, lay the neckline ruffles on top of the shirt (appliqué style) and pin in place. I stitched mine on with a decorative stitch my machine has, but you could use a zigzag here as well.

The finished shirt.

And now you have one pretty blouse-style top instead of two ugly plain shirts. Think of all the new storage space you'll soon have once you've refashioned all those old T's!

Here's a close-up of the details.

And here's the back!

posted in: , fabric, top, shirt, tshirt

Comments (5)

thegirl writes: This looks like a fun project to try out. Thanks for the detailed instructions!
Posted: 9:27 pm on March 15th
CalPatch writes: hi BridgeStTSC! i know what you mean about the tight neckbands; i usually cut them off and just leave the edge raw! but i've written about a bunch of ways to re-style the necklines of t-shirts that should be helpful to you. see them all on my profile page here:
Posted: 5:05 pm on March 31st
gracie_girl writes: This is great. I'd love to see a little bead work/embroidery or even a little lace to dress it up even more. It could work as a dress for a little girl. Dear BridgeStTSC, you could roll the edge inwards, and crochet a simple single crochet around the edge. Or you could use bias seam binding tape to trim the's easy to sew on. I'm pretty sure there is a stretch version you could use. If you embroider, you could cut the excess fabric, then do some kind of overcast stitch around the neckline. Hope one of these ideas helps.
Posted: 12:48 pm on March 28th
Aliceincrafterland writes: This is so cute! I really don't like (or look good in) a high neckline. I have a drawer full of t-shirts that I am tired of and now I can restyle them.
Posted: 6:30 pm on March 25th
BridgeStTSC writes: This looks great. I might try it. But what I'm really hoping to find is a way to "adapt" the neckline of a Tee. I recently had throat surgery, and I just can't stand to wear regular neckline anythings! Just before the surgery, I had gotten 3 new Tees, and just can't wear them now. Is there an easy way to alter the neckline of these Tees? The neckline here looks about right for me; but the problem is I don't have any other Tees in similar/complementary colours. I'm hoping one of the let's do-it specialists here can help me with this project. Thanks ever so much.
Posted: 2:09 pm on March 24th
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