Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Toned Baby Sleeves: the tutorial

Seven handmade shirts just wasn't enough. I felt the itch to cut up just one more of my hubby's old tees. I. just. can't. stop! And seriously- how cute is this appliqued Scrabble tile? The number 8 was a little fiddly to cut out, but I love how it turned out :) And the baseball... I was worried that I was going to have to hand sew (ugh) the red stitching, until I discovered that my awesome new machine already had the perfect fancy-schmancy stitch built in! Sa-weet!

Anyway, getting on with the tute.

Because the design was pretty small on this particular shirt, I was able to make T.H.R.E.E. baby shirts out of this one shirt! (The third shirt is not complete yet, though all the pattern pieces have been cut).

I also took photos along the way of the process of making the two-toned sleeves, so that you, my dear sweet readers, can make these too!

Ok, let's get started! Visit the awesome tute at This Mama Makes Stuff to print out the pattern. Gather up an adult tee. The bigger, the better.
Cut it apart and open it up like so, and place your pattern in one of two places.

If you want to use the picture on the front, center of the tee, place the pattern up there. If you want to utilize the bottom hem of the t-shirt as the bottom of your baby shirt, place it along the bottom like I did here. I do both so maximum the shirt's potential, but please note that if you place the pattern up around the neckline in order to use the picture already on the adult tee, you will need to make the shirt a little longer than if you use the bottom hem of the adult tee. This is so that you will have a little extra fabric to fold under to create your own hem.

Notice the little green cheerleaders at the bottom of my pattern.
I need my patterns to cheer me on as I go :)

Here are two photos of where I placed the pattern in order to end up with a shirt just like the husband's originally was, only smaller :)

My pattern is only half, so I have to fold the fabric in half before I cut. Cut a back and a front, and another back and front if your shirt is large enough. (If you're wondering what's up with the bottom of my patterns, remember that these were originally baby gown patterns. I fold the pattern in order to make it the correct length for a shirt).

Here it is, all cut out but still folded in half.

And unfolded! Notice on the back where it says "Nike" is a little off-center. I had to do this because of the fabric available. I can fix it later by adding an appliqued Nike swoosh or something on the left. Then it will look centered :)

Now we're going to use the sleeves off of the adult tee. Here they are cut off, sitting pretty next to the baby sleeves pattern.

Take the sleeves and open them up. If you can fit it, make two short baby sleeves from each of the adult sleeves. Place the pattern along the hemmed edge of the sleeve. Notice the dotted line that says "short sleeve hem." I added that to the pattern because the original pattern was only for long sleeves. There's also a "short sleeve cut." Use the "hem" line when you're using the existing hem on the adult tee; use the "cut" line when you're not using the original hem, and you're going to have to hem the bottom yourself. (That's why it's a little longer... to give you extra fabric for the hem). Make sense?

Notice all the mumbo-jumbo that I've written on the pattern. You'll want to do the same. I've marked on my pattern where to cut fabric #1. Remember that the second half of the baby sleeve is going to be made with a second fabric, and so we're not going to use the entire pattern on fabric #1.

(If you can't quite make out all that I've written on the pattern, you can click on it, and it should take you to a larger version of the photo).

Then cut. You might need a John Deere tractor and a three foot tall helper with this part. I know I did.

And repeat.

Pfew! You're over half way done :)

Now take fabric number #2. If you're lazy smart like me, make sure you're taking a piece that is already hemmed.

Notice the "long sleeve hem" and "long sleeve cut" lines. Once again, the "hem" line is for when you're using an already-hemmed piece. The lower line, or the "cut" line gives you a little bit of extra fabric so that you can hem the baby shirt yourself. I just want to be clear, because this is important :)

Now you're ready to cut the top section of the second fabric, where it will attach to fabric #1. Just make sure you leave enough fabric at the top so it will overlap a little bit with fabric #1.

I like to lay the top part of the sleeve on the pattern, just to make sure they're overlapping.

Then cut and repeat!

Pin together like so. Simply lay fabric #1 over fabric #2, remembering to overlap a bit. Sorry I'm not more precise with my measurements. I don't get to use my measuring tape because my son always wants to play with it.

Here's what the inside of the sleeve will look like. It's not finished, but of course if you're a perfectionist, you could make the second fabric a little longer, leaving enough room to turn it under and make it look all professional. I am not a perfectionist, and so I'm totally fine with unfinished edges on the inside of the garment :)

Now let's sew! Finally getting to the good part. I hate the cutting and pinning part, don't you?

Place your needle directly over the stitching that already exists (if you're using an existing hem). Make sure you use matching thread so that it blends in with the original stitching. I sew slowly so that I don't go left or right of the original stitching.

Here's what the sleeve looks like when the two parts have been joined. Feel free to snip the jagged, uneven edges.

And here's a shot from the back. (This sleeve's secondary fabric is black because it's the second set I made).

You are now ready to get back to the tutorial over at This Mama Makes Stuff, because the tricky awesome two-toned sleeves are ready to be sewn into the shirt! Woohoo!


  1. Adorable! I have to get to work on making more T-shirts!

  2. What a great way to recycle old t-shirts! Love it!
    Thank you so much for sharing this @ {nifty thrifty sunday} last week!
    I can't wait to see more from you on Sunday!