Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Recycled t-shirt pajamas

As promised, here is the basic tutorial for how I turned a pile of my husband's t-shirts into p.j.'s for my four year old. It is super easy. Kelby really needed Summer pajamas and Casey just cleaned out his shirt drawer. Most of the ones he was giving away, he barely wore, so I repurposed them for Kelby.

The Dunder Mifflin shorts are definitely my fave, even if they make me a bit sad that The Office has ended for good ;) We will keep the Dundy spirit alive through sewing, haha!

First, obviously, you need some t-shirts. Casey generally wears a size L. The bigger your shirt, the bigger child you can make these for. This will probably be the last year I can squeeze Kelby shorts of the Large shirts, but I can always buy bigger tees from the thrift store. He wears a size 5 currently, if that gives you a frame of reference for what size shirts to use for what size kids. If you have a toddler still, you could probably make pants this way! 
 First up, the shorts. You'll need a basic pajama bottoms pattern for this, or one from the Internet, which shouldn't be hard to find, or expensive to buy. This is the one I use:
 I've traced this in a bunch of sizes over the years. I do lower the waistband on these and shorten them quite a bit. I don't know what kind of long-legged kids they designed this pattern for, but they're way too long for us ;) It's not necessary that your pattern be designed for knits only. This pattern is for wovens and I use it with knits also.

Next, pin your shorts front and back piece onto your t-shirt any way that it fits. I put mine on a bit of a diagonal and I actually really like how the logo twists around from the front to the toosh. You can see in the bottom right corner that the top of my pattern piece goes onto the sleeve seam a little, but no matter, those lines will disappear into the seams and casing.
Next, just follow your directions for putting the shorts together. I use 1" elastic in mine and I used yellow thread for a cute contrast. 
I like to put a tag in the back of my kids' pants, shorts and skirts, just so they know which way is the right way. I just put a folded piece of ribbon into the casing before I sew up my elastic hole. 

 Next up, the shirt. Just as easy and no pattern required :)
First,  cut off the sleeves and cut the side seams and shoulder seams open, so you have the front and back as two pieces. We need to make the neckline kid-sized, but still make use of the original ribbed neck.

 Then, reposition the shirt front onto the shirt back, but putting the shoulders of the front higher than the back shoulders, thus making the neckline smaller. Just use a sleeveless shirt that fits your son to compare.
 Once you have that neckline lined up, just trim around the tank top, adding seam allowances to the sides and shoulders and a 1" hem at the bottom. No need to add seam allowances to the arm holes unless you plan on hemming them, which I did not.
 So it should look like this (I know, there are stains on this tank top, he's a busy boy :)
 Put your pieces right sides together and sew or serge the side and shoulder seams. If you don't have a serger, just use two rows of straight stitching close together and trim. I sewed knits that way for years and never once popped a seam.
 Hem your shirt and if you want to, hem the arm holes. For this red shirt, I just added a zig zag stitch around the arm holes and zig zagged the hem too, just for interest.
And you're done! 
For this next pair, the yellow t-shirt actually had ribbing around the sleeve hems, so I cut that off (leaving about 1/2" of the t-shirt part for a seam allowance) and reapplied it to the arm holes and top stitched it. 
 Now he has two new pairs of Summer p.j.'s that cost me nothin'!
 Wouldn't these be cute with appliques on the shirts?? If you use this tutorial, I'd love to see your results so leave me a link in the comments! Also, if you're new to sewing knits, my #1 tip is to use a ball-point needle, which is made for stretch knits and will make a HUGE difference in preventing skipped stitches and rescue you from frustration. Oh, and to use a walking foot if you have one.
Happy sewing :)

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