T shirt refashion – Stripes and flowers

I’ve really enjoyed giving this second hand T shirt a makeover. It was a charity shop bargain, which I originally bought because I wanted some more cotton T shirts to wear when I’m gardening. Those plans all changed when I looked back at some photos I took when I visited Venice about ten years ago. I had wanted to visit Italy for so many years and a wonderful opportunity came up to visit and work with an organic clothing company. I spent a day in Venice, taking it all in and soaking up the atmosphere. I was particularly taken with the rich fabrics and colourful textures on the gondolas. What an experience!

Here’s my Pinterest board, which I put together last week. It really helped me bring my ideas together and get stitching! Venice, stripes and flowers

I wouldn’t usually mix stripes and flowers, however, I love stepping out of my creative comfort zone and trying new things.

My top tips for refashioning second hand clothing are, firstly, to check the garment over for general quality of making. In the case of this striped T shirt, I liked the quality of cotton jersey fabric, it wasn’t pilled and the stripes matched at the side seams. I like a good quality, blank canvas to work with. Whilst tidying my fabric scraps, a floral print scrap stood out as being the perfect fabric for this project as it reminded me of a plant I admired, growing against a white wall, in the garden of where I stayed in Italy.

I think it’d work just as well on a plain top and also on denim too.

Here’s my step by step guide.

The T shirt, before I’ve added anything to it. It’s a really nice basic shape.
The colourful fabric scrap I decided to use for this applique project.
With the T shirt on my dress stand, I pinned the cut out flowers and leaves in place and moved them around until I was happy with the position. The flowers overlap at the neck edge and leaves appear to grow over one sleeve.
With the T shirt on my ironing board I used 1cm squares of Bondaweb and bonded the flowers to the T shirt with the heat of the iron. I made sure there were creases in the flowers to make them look more textured.
After attaching the cut out shapes with Bondaweb tabs, I took a step back to see whether I liked the way it was shaping up. I tried on the T and decided to add more leaves, overlapping the side seam. Now it was time to start sewing!
Using charcoal grey thread and a ball point needle I stitched the cut out flowers to the T shirt. I made sure the creases I’d ironed in place were still there when sewing.
Finished! The edges of the leaves and flowers may fray a bit more and I like that. I wanted to go for a hand crafted, not manufactured look.

Using small tabs of Bondaweb means the applique is attached to the T shirt but isn’t rigid. I didn’t want to lose the stretchiness of the T.

The sewing was really enjoyable and relaxing. I made sure I sewed an outline around all the pieces to secure them.

One of the many reasons I love refashioning projects is the creativity and breathing of new life into an item of clothing, without spending a lot of money. This is a great way for trying out new skills and experiment with colour combinations. If you purchase a garment from a charity shop you’re also spending your money in a meaningful way.

If you try these techniques, do share your images with me!

Jennifer x