Refashioning a beloved t-shirt for Me-Made May

Hi Sewcialists!

I have the pleasure of writing about refashioning RTW this month for Me Made May. Before I start to tell you about my project, I want to give you a short description of who I am.


Originally I am from Germany, and I moved to Switzerland in the last year with my husband. I have been sewing for nine of my 30 years, and my passion is sewing clothes, especially for me. I make blouses, shirts, bras, also jackets, and dresses or pants. I really want to try denim pants! I am reading everything about sewing and love to try new techniques. I really fell in love with this idea of refashioning, because I have many clothes I don’t or can’t wear anymore (too big or not beloved anymore because I have changed my own personal style.) You can find me and my sewing blog on Instagram: nani_christiane_sews.

For this lovely topic on the Sewcialists homepage during Me Made May, I chose an old RTW T-Shirt (80% cotton and 20% polyester) that in my opinion needed a new life. I loved this shirt so much, but it had many issues that stopped me from wearing it. You can see the T-Shirt in the picture below.

  • Obviously it was too big
  • It had pilling
  • I didn’t like the pleated hem anymore
  • Also the pleated hem didn’t look so well on me (personal thoughts)
  • Didn’t love the color of the neckline (for me)



  • I wore it often and loved it
  • The fabric is lovely and smooth
  • It wasn’t cheap
  • Also I have respect for the fabric, and the people who made this garment
  • All in all, I don’t want to throw it away

First I thought, what can I do?

I put it on, stood before the mirror, and asked myself: What will it be? What can it be?

  • Briefs? – No, the fabric is too soft, a bit out of stretch, no great recovery
  • Sleeveless top? – No, I really want sleeves!
  • New T-Shirt? – YES! Boring? Maybe πŸ˜‰

Afterwards, I went to the designing process, which was so much fun, and I felt really creative. What did I like and what did I not like on this garment? Was the color me? Were the pleats me? Was the neckline me?

  • Too wide in front and back
  • Loved the deep V-neckline but I didn’t like the white (and a bit sloppy) V-neckband. Also the color of the neckband is not 100% me. I think I look a bit pale with this color near my face
  • I didn’t like the heavy blue pleats at the hem β€” they made me look bigger than I am in my opinion
  • Loved the white fabric with the blue stripes and also the blue fabric of the pleats
  • The design of the sleeves was not me (color in combination with the length)

Let’s start!

Too wide in front and back

I started with my seam ripper for the sides, the shoulders, the sleeves. Okay, that is never the most fun part in changing RTW, and it took me about two hours just for the pleated hem (it was finished with a coverlock, first picture below). But lucky me β€” I could use the old hem, without the ruffle, for my new design! Afterwards I pinned and hand-basted the new sides (second picture below) and tried it on, adjusted the shoulders a bit, and finished everything. I really loved it now so much more! Good start for my refashion plans!





The next part was the neckline, and I wanted to use the pleated fabric. So I sewed a new collar band out of the pleated fabric, closed the small ends, turned everything to the right side, closed the open part by hand, sewed it on the deep V-neckline by hand and knotted a bow. Great!



I didn’t like the old sleeves very much. They were a bit boring, and I wanted something more catchy, and also something where the blue of the neckline will be shown. Also, I wanted to use the old sleeves. I had tulip sleeves in my mind. I searched a bit on the internet, and found several instructions. I read them and tried it directly with my fabric. My very first pair of self-constructed new sleeves! I really enjoyed trying it! Sadly, I didn’t have enough fabric to sew them out of the stripy fabric. However, I already had blue cotton jersey in my stash, so I decided to mix them. Here is the process of the new sleeves.

How I made tulip sleeves

  • The construction of the tulip sleeves is fairly easy. My sleeves were quite different when I measured them, so I had to draw one pattern for each sleeve. Here are the step by step instructions.
  1. Fold your sleeve in half, mark this point and fold the sides to the middle. So you will get four sections on each sleeve. Lay your fabric sleeve on paper and draw the pattern on your paper. Trace all marks.



2. Now you will have your sleeve patterns on your paper. The next step is to draw a smooth curve, from the top of one of the lines to the bottom of the opposite line, for both the front and back pattern pieces.Β The front piece is marked in blue, below, and the back piece has the black curve.



3. Now you’ll need two pattern pieces per sleeve: one for the front and one for the back. So again: Trace it onto paper and cut each pattern piece out.



4. Last step is easy: Cut each piece out of your fabric, and don’t forget to trace the marks of the middle onto your pieces.


5. First sew the back sleeves (stripy fabric) in and afterwards the front part (blue fabric). Each will lay over each other on the marked middle point. The back piece (stripy fabric) will lay over the front piece (blue fabric) when you’re finished. The marked middle is the shoulder point.

For my shirt, the sleeves came out slightly differently, because the original sleeves were slightly different. They weren’t the same size β€” I don’t know why.





Now my little refashion has everything I wanted: Interesting sleeves, a better color at the neckline, it is more fitted, and yet it is as familiar as before. So I can love it again! By the way: I cut the company name out of the back. It is my design now πŸ˜‰



I had so much fun making this garment and writing this post for Me Made May. Thank you to everyone who read it. Have fun and be proud while you wear your self-made garments in Me Made May and afterwards. Best wishes from Switzerland into the world πŸ™‚