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Friday, March 26, 2010

Upcycle Tutorial: Turning Your Husband's Undershirts into a Super-Soft Nightgown

Beau was going to throw five of these away:
They were too soft to discard and too intact to give to Goodwill, so I decided to make a simple nightgown, soft and sweet for springtime.

Your nightgown will take about an hour and a half to make, almost as long as blogging about it.

Take 5-6 of your husband's old undershirts (or T-shirts..get creative!)
Use white thread.

Get out your spray starch. This is the secret to working with knits. Spray all of your pieces before you iron and sew them. They will be much, much easier to work with.

On with it-
1. Smooth out the first shirt and cut off the midsection, right under the arm holes.
2. Take the bottom piece and fold in half. Reserve for later. This will be your bodice.
3. Cut out shoulder straps from the top piece. The long rectangular middle pieces will be the straps. Discard the other three pieces.
4. Cut off the bottom 3/4 of the rest of your shirts, just like you did for the first piece.
5. Now cut along the bottom fold of the tubular pieces, opening each piece up into a long rectangle.
6. Open each piece up. With different shirts, you will have varying lengths. This is okay. Knits are tricky and you will compensate later.
7. Use a french seam to sew your rectangular pieces together. Sew each piece together, lengthwise, right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam (approximately: again, knits are tricky). Now flip your fabric, wrong sides together, press, and sew another seam, enveloping your first seam. Press and topstitch.
8. Here is the french seam, nice and tidy. Go here if you need more detailed instructions on making a french seam.
9. Sew your skirt closed by using a french seam to attach the last piece to the first piece.
10. Lay it flat and trim one end so that your top is even. We will be gathering the top part of the skirt before attaching it to the bodice.
11. Gather your skirt piece to a circumference that fits comfortably under your chest. Measure with a measuring tape right under your bra line and gather the skirt accordingly.
11. Take your reserved bodice piece and fold it in half so that the raw edges come together. Slide it up over your chest and fit it to your body. Pin and sew it so that it is quite snug in circumference. This is knit material, and it will stretch considerable as you wear it. Err on the side of too tight.

12. Now sew the tube shut. Place the raw edges together and sew along the bottom. This gives you a lined bodice.

13. Turn your bodice inside-out and fit it over the top of your skirt. The right side of the skirt fabric will be pinned to the wrong side of the bodice fabric. If you can't picture it, pin the two together, then flip the bodice up. It should look similar to your finished product.
Here is a closer view of the pins.
14. Sew the bodice to the skirt. It helps to have a denim-strength needle as you will be sewing through layers of gathered material. Flip the bodice right-side out, press, and topstitch.
15. Retrieve your strap pieces and iron them according to your desired width.
16. Sew them shut.
17. Now for a fitting! Try your nightgown on and figure out where you would like your straps. Carefully by yourself, or with the help of a trusted friend, pin your straps to the front and the back of your bodice. Take your nightgown off. Sew the straps to the bodice.
18. Try the gown on again and decide your desired length. I kept mine quite long as I am 5' 11". If you want it short, cut it accordingly. Hem the bottom of the gown.

And here is the finished product! It should hold up quite well to many washings, it is lightweight and drape-y, and your husband will probably be quite impressed that you love him so much that you would wear his old shirts...so attractively!

P.S. My gown does not fit my size-2 model like it fits me. The bustline should hit right under your chest. Happy sewing! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or any suggestions on making this tutorial better.


Andrea @ TheTrainToCrazy.com said...

That looks so comfortable! Thanks for sharing!

kristenly said...

awesome idea! thanks for sharing!

Miracle in the Making said...

Great idea!

jamie said...

very cute! I've got a question. I've made several things for myself out of up-cycled knits and how do you keep your thread from breaking with such a stretchy material? I made something similar, that was 'fitted' and in slipping it over my head half of the threads broke!!! I do use the longest stitch length... and zig zag... but do you have any other tips??? jamie.burton@comcast.net

Brandy Afterthoughts said...


I just emailed you a listing from Craigslist for a serger. I don't know if it is a good price, but I know you are looking for one. I think it is old, but maybe it still works? Anyhow, I thought I'd drop you a note here as I'm not sure the email address I am using is the best one for reaching you.

And I know how we both feel about the phone.



Jennifer said...

Hi everyone! I would love to see pictures if anyone makes something similar!

Jamie, spraying the knits with heavy starch helps. I also use Coats and Clark All-Purpose thread. It's quite strong. Maybe use a shorter stitch length also..it's harder to rip. I hope that helps!

念強 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

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- John

Piter Nicolas said...

This above post is just excellent...I loved your idea of making night gown by using mens undershirts...Very easy process...Thank you too much.......


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