Sunday, January 31, 2010

How To: Make a Shrug from a T-Shirt

I found this quick and easy, not to mention super cute, sewing project at Cut Out & Keep, a craft tutorial site full of fun ideas. This t-shirt shrug is their most viewed project and third most popular and for good reason. It adorable and easy. I bought a $5 clearance shirt at Wal-Mart, but this would be great for the shirt you still love, but got shrunk in the dryer. Don't you hate that? Now you can give it a new life.

This is a perfect "first sewing project" for any age. I started sewing when I was about 10 years old, and this would have been an ideal project. I attempted to make a shirt from scratch with just two pieces of fabric, one for the front, one for the back. It hitched up in the armpits and was just about impossible to get in and out of. But hey, I tried! This would be much better. It actually fits!

When I saw this project, I immediately thought of dance class. It's often chilly in the studio in the winter, at least at the start of class, and I usually wear a cardigan or hoodie. This is a MUCH better alternative, which is why I went with a long sleeve shirt.

Lets get started. Here's what you'll need:

T-shirt, long or short sleeves, round or v-neck. (I used a ribbed shirt which might be a little harder to work with if you've never sewn before, so it's best to stick with a basic t-shirt knit if you're a novice sewer.)

Thread - matching or contrasting. Just remember that matching will blend so you won't see any imperfections.
2 yards ribbon or cord - I used drawstring like you'd find in a sweat shirt. If you want a less utilitarian look, opt for ribbon. 

Cut the shirt up the front in the center and around the collar.

Turn the shirt inside out. Fold cut edge in about 3/4" – 1". Because this is knit, you don't have to worry about it fraying. You don't need to make a traditional finished hem.

Here's where I ran into a slight problem and my first suggestion. There's a hard corner where the collar met the shirt. I ended up rounding it off a bit.

But I would recommend rounding it even more. I adjusted for the transition by gathering the edge a bit and could have done that a bit more to soften the transition. But if you round it out first, you'll eliminate the need or reduce it.

In order to match the other side, I took the piece I cut from the first side, matched it up, and cut along the same line. Much easier than eyeballing it.

Continue pinning all round.

Sewing time. This is the quickest part. Create a running stitch along the hem leaving enough room for the ribbon or cord. Double back on any corners and at the beginning and end. This just reinforces those areas. Trim the thread and turn the shirt right side out.

Put a safety pin at the end of the ribbon or cord and start threading it through the channel.
shrug-finished string

Done! But don't cut the ribbon until you've tried on the shirt! Leave the ends long until you know how much you need. Oh, and if you have kitties nearby, cut a piece for them before you start. That way they'll leave you alone while you work.
kitties string1

Try it on, adjust the ribbon as needed and bask in the glow of a job well done. Easy-peasy!

I must say that this is one of the very, very, very, very few times when being small-chested is a plus. The gathers are very flattering as is the neck line. That isn't to say you can't wear this if you have normal, adult female size breasts. You'll just have more of a va-va-voom thing going on.

Go forth and sew. And check out the original project page for lots of inspiration for kinds of shirts as well as ribbon and embellishment ideas.


  1. So freakin' cute! I want one!!! Except, I don't sew. :( I'm forwarding it to my BFF who is ohhhh so much more crafty than I!

  2. You have a darling figure! Awesome job and love the hot pink color~

  3. I can totally see you wearing that to dance class. Cute!!

  4. You continue to impress me. Of all my friends, you are the closest one to Martha Stewart! Can you make me a wine rack out of some chop sticks and a box of paper clips? No rush. You have until Christmas. :)

  5. Seriously, is there anything you CAN'T do?

    P.S. May I have the recipe you used when you made your bagels? Thanks!

  6. Susie- Trust me - this is super easy. I know you could do it. BUT if you have someone willing to make one for you, even better. :)

    Frieda - Aw, thanks. Isn't that color great?

    Barb - :) Thanks!

    DB - I'll get right on that. Question: Does it need to be structurally sound? ;)

    Laura - Yes. Play a musical instrument and fly a plane. Other than that, though...
    I'll email you the recipe. :)

  7. Ok you crack me up. Love all the shots with the camera! The color is beautiful. I also saw this on the site and I do need to make me one. Anything to make my flat chest look bigger! So you cook, bake and sew- YOU GO GIRL!

  8. Robin- I found the site when you posted about your new gig over there. :) I do, in fact do all of those things, just generally not all at once. And I sew a LOT less than I used to and would really like to do some more.

  9. Very cute! I'm linking soon from - thanks a million!

  10. Heather - Thanks for stopping by and linking to the post! I love all of the other ideas on your site, too - very cute!

  11. This is sooo cool. I wish I knew to stich. I would so make one for myself.

  12. Thanks for posting such an in depth tutorial. I'll be making one of these for my 8 year old daughter. She insists on trying to wear her sleeveless summer dresses and snow is starting to fall. Something like this will be perfect transition from summer to winter for her.


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