Upcycled Elevated Rock Tee Shirt

Upcycle an old rock tee shirt into an elevated design that is ready for the runway!

Tee shirts are an essential part of our weekend wardrobe and now-a-days even our workwear. We all have wearable concert souvenirs, collegiate team tees, and countless other logoed mementos all stuffed into a drawer.  Some tee shirts sold at vintage shops will have your jaw dropping at the high price of this piece of the past.  But are you ever going to wear them again? Instead of tossing those old tees or letting them sit in your closet, I’ve got a stylish idea on how you can elevate an old tee shirt into a trendy new look.  It’s a small refashioning project that will deliver big style when you make it yourself.

Brother Sews Ambassador Logo

As a Brother Sews Ambassador I get to create all kinds of sewing projects using the BEST sewing and embroidery machines on the market.  There is so much you can do with a Brother machine and some fabric but my favorite is to refashion old clothing into a new style…giving it a new life.  This rock tee-shirt is a fun project that takes a regular old tee shirt into an elevated design for today’s trend.

Rock Tee shirt project supplies

Supplies:

Brother Sewing Machine and a Brother Serger

an old t-shirt

1 yard of flowy, soft fabric like polyester chiffon, charmeuse, or rayon

Pattern paper and marking pen

Straight edge and rotary cutter

a measuring tape

straight pins

scissors

Make it:

Modify Side Seams to fit

First cut off the sleeves of your tee shirt at the armhole seam.  If your shirt is oversized and you want a more fitted look, modify the sides to your desired fit now.  You can also determine the length of the shirt too so cut it to the length you want leaving room for a hem.

Modify Side Seams to fit

Modify hem length

Marking the base of the armhole with a pin, mine is usually a 9.5″ or 10″.  Put the right sides of the tee shirt together and serge then sew the side seams.

Measure arm hole opening

Serging the t-shirt sides

Sewing the t-shirt side seamsPut the shirt aside and create a pattern for the sleeves.  You can create any type of sleeve you want but for this project we are making flared sleeves. Using proper pattern paper or, if you don’t have that, I like the use the backside of wrapping paper or light weight craft paper, lay it flat and start to draw your pattern.

Marking the arm hold for the pattern making

To do this, first, measure the size of the armhole opening, mine is 9.5″, adding in a slight seam allowance plus an inch so that we will use to create a gather around at the top of the shoulder. This measurement will be one edge of your pattern.

Drawing sleeve pattern

Using a straight edge, draw the arm length on an angle starting at the base of the armhole measurement; this angled line will create the flare for the sleeve and, it will be the bottom of your pattern.  Finish the pattern by connecting the bottom edge to the top of the pattern.   The top of the pattern will be the fold of the fabric, and the top of the sleeve when finished.

Be sure to leave enough seam allowance for shoulder placement and for hemming. Pin the pattern on the folded fabric and cut two sleeves.

Cutting fabric sleeves from the pattern Serge the raw edges of the fabric.  Serging the raw edges of the fabric With the right sides together serge the long edge of the sleeves and then sew them.

Serging the sleeve long edge together

Before you add the sleeves to the shirt create a small gather on the top of the sleeve at the shoulder.  Set your machine to a long stitch length anywhere from 4 -5. Make sure you have long tails on the thread in the machine.

Stitch length on machine for adding a gathering

Sew around the arm hole fabric with a long stitch lengthSew the sleeve armhole fabric around the shoulder leaving the thread tails long at the end.  It is important not to backstitch at the beginning or end of these stitches because the threads need to be loose!

Leaving the threads long Pull the threads with one hand while guiding the fabric with the other to create a small gather.

Gathering the top of the sleeve at the shoulder

Top of the sleeve gatherWith the tee shirt wrong side facing out and the sleeves right side out, put the sleeves inside the arms holes.

Insert sleeve into tshirt shellLining up the shirt side seam and the sleeve seam pin the sleeve in place.

Pin arm hole openings together Reset the stitch length on your machine and sew around the arm hole. Do the same for the other sleeve.

Sewing the arm hole opening togetherPull the sleeves out and turn the tee shirt right side out.

Finally, hem the tee shirt by folding the bottom up, press and sew it in place using a zig zag stitch.

Turn up the bottom to sew the hem

Turn the raw edge of each sleeve in and hem. To finish the look, press the seams flat. This helps smooth and blend the stitches into the fabric for a professional look.

Pressing the stitches to finish the look Additional note, you can take this project one step further and create your own tee shirt design using the Brother Scan n Cut.  Simply create a design on the SNC machine or scan one in, cut it out using iron on transfer paper, and add it to the front of your blank shirt.

Creating a design with the Brother Scan N Cut machine

Create your own design using a Brother Scan n Cut

And there you have it, an upcycled, elevated tee shirt.  Good job!

There are so many ways to repurpose old tee shirts so if you can’t image your life without them, this is just another way you can refashion tees into runway ready apparel.

Beauty shot of an upcycled Rock Tee Shirt

Upcycled Rock Tee Shirt Design

There are so many ways to repurpose old tee shirts so if you can’t image your life without them, this is a great idea on how to refashion old tees into runway ready apparel. So grab an old tee shirt, any size and design and let's get to it!
Course: Beginner project
Yield: 1 Refashioned Tee Shirt

Equipment

  • 1 Brother Sewing Machine
  • 1 Brother Serger
  • 1 Pair of fabric scissors
  • 1 Pair of paper scissor
  • Pattern Paper and Marking Pen
  • Straight edge and Rotary Cutter
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight pins 

Materials

  • 1 gently worn rock tee shirt any tee shirt will work, even a plain shirt
  • 1 yard polyester chiffon any color to coordinate with the tee shirt, patterns look great with this project

Instructions

Prepping the Tee Shirt

  • First cut off the sleeves of your tee shirt at thearmhole seam. 
  • If your shirt is oversized and you want a more fitted look, modify the sides to your desired fit now.
  • You can also determine the length of the shirt too socut it to the length you want leaving room for a hem.
  • Marking the base of the armhole with a pin, put the right sides of the tee shirt together and serge then sew the side seams.
    Put the shirt aside and create a pattern for the sleeves.

Making the Sleeve Pattern

  • You can create any type of sleeve you want but for this project we are making flared sleeves.  Todo this, first, measure the size of the armhole opening.
  • Adding in a seam allowance plus an inch or so that we will use to create a gather around at the top of the shoulder. This measurement will be one edge of your pattern. Mark the edge of your pattern with this width.
  • Using a straight edge, draw the arm length on an angle starting at the base of the armhole measurement; this angled line will createthe flare for the sleeve and, it will be the bottom of your pattern.
  • Finish the pattern by connecting the bottom edge to the top of the pattern.  The top of the pattern will be the fold of the fabric, and the top of the sleeve when finished.
  • Be sure to leave enough seam allowance for shoulder placement and for hemming. Using your paper scissors, cut the pattern out.

Making the Sleeves

  • Pin the pattern on the fabric and cut out using your fabric scissors.
  • Serge the raw edges of the fabric.
  • With the right sides of the fabric together serge the long edge of the sleeves and then sew them together using your sewing machine.
  • Before you add the sleeves to the shirt, create a small gather on the top of the sleeve at the shoulder.   Set your machine to a long stitch length anywhere from 4 -5. Make sure you have long tails on the thread in the machine.
  • Sew the sleeve armhole fabric around the shoulder opening, leaving the thread tails long at the end. It is important not to backstitch at the beginning or end of these stitches because the threads need to be loose!
  • Pull the threads with one hand while guiding the fabric with the other to create a small gather.

Adding the Sleeves to the Shirt

  • With the tee shirt wrong side facing out and the sleeves right side out, put the sleeves inside the arms holes.
  • Lining up the shirt side seam and the sleeve seam pin the sleeve in place.
  • Reset the stitch length on your machine and sew around the arm hole. Do the same for the other sleeve.  
  • Pull the sleeves out and turn the tee shirt right side out.  

Finishing your Refashioned Tee Shirt

  • Hem the tee shirt by folding the bottom up, press and sew it in place using a zig zag stitch.
  • Turn the raw edge of each sleeve in and hem.
  • To finish the look, press the seams flat. This helps smooth and blend the stitches into the fabric for a professional look.

Creating Your Own T-shirt Logo Design

  • You can take this project one step further by creating your own tee shirt design using the Brother Scan n Cut. 
    Simply create a design on the SNC machine or scan one in, cut it out using iron on transfer paper, and add it to the front of your blank shirt.

You did it! An upcycled, elevated tee shirt and a job well done!

     

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