Friday, February 20, 2015

A Comprehensive Guide to T-Shirt Reconstruction, Part 5: Embellishment

Part 5: Embellishments (this)

Welcome to FRIDAY!!!! Try really hard not to get the Rebecca Black song stuck in your head, okay? :)

Today we discuss EMBELLISHMENTS! You can do these kinds of embellishments on virtually anything in your closet - you don't even have to resize a t-shirt first!

Click "Read More" for tutorials on four different embellishments...

The Ruffle

The ruffle is good, the ruffle is fun, the ruffle is kind...

By that I mean, it's a great way to add something really fancy looking without having to be perfect. Ruffles are like little pieces of magic that require very little skill and result in a GREAT effect!

So. Take the bottom part of a t-shirt you already cut up:

And cut a strip out of it the same width as the t-shirt. Do it through the front AND the back, and snip it so you have one long piece. Mine is about an inch wide but yours can be as wide as you want! Quick tip? Don't use the edge of the shirt with a hem on it. The ruffle won't ruffle right!

Head over to your sewing machine and run a straight stitch through the center - as long as you can make it. This is a good time to bust out the high-quality thread if you haven't already. It's about to take a real beating! Make sure you leave plenty of thread at each end:

Now, grab the bottom thread only on either end of your strip, and begin to gather the strip along the thread. You may need to work from each end separately, depending on how long your strip is. Gather slowly, a little at a time. It'll take a bit of practice to get your rhythm right. Eventually you'll end up with something that looks like this:

Don't worry about the length right now - it's more important that the ruffle look consistently all the way down rather than it being the proper length. It'll probably be much longer than the place you're stitching it to anyway.

Also, don't worry about it looking like a mess at this point! Everything is going to be fine.

Now, starting with one end of your ruffle, pin it down to the front of your collar on one side, matching up the end of the ruffle with the shoulder seam of the shirt. Pin the ruffle to the collar all the way across, making sure of two things:

1. Your ruffle does not get twisted around - you want it to lay as flat as possible against your collar; and 
2. The top part of your ruffle "hides" the raw edge of your collar.

You will probably have a bit of excess hanging off when you reach the other end of your collar:

Cut it off!

Now, take it over to your machine and use a narrow zig-zag stitch to stitch the ruffle down. You want to use a zig-zag to allow the collar to still have a little stretch, and you want it to be narrow so that you have as much 3-D action going on with your ruffle as possible - you want those little ruffles to be prominent!

Eventually you'll end up with something like this:

It's so awesome!

I've worn this t-shirt half a dozen times already since I made it. LOVE IT SO MUCH!

The "Necklace"

Like rhinestones? Like jewelry? THIS IS THE EMBELLISHMENT FOR YOU!

You'll need various flat-back rhinestones, a t-shirt to embellish, and some dimensional fabric paint (ideally in a light color):

It couldn't be easier, really...just place your rhinestones on the shirt to get your design right:

(Now what I SHOULD have done here is place a piece of newspaper or a scrap of fabric between the front and back of the shirt, because I did get a little bleeding of the paint from front to back.)

Add a tiny dab of fabric paint underneath each one (it really only takes a little tiny bit):

And press the rhinestone back in place!

Let it dry for 4 hours or the amount of time suggested by your paint. Honestly, don't touch it before then. Let it dry flat and completely unmolested.

And you're DONE!

Lace Edges

Does anything add more class than a pretty, lacy edge? I THINK NOT! You can add lace anywhere - you can add it to your collar, to sleeve edges, to the bottom of your shirt, or you can even criss-cross it all over the front of your shirt in your own mad modern art design!

You'll need your t-shirt (I used the tube top I made out of the Corpus Christi t-shirt) and about a yard of lace edging, or enough to go all the way around the place you want it.

It's so simple - you don't even have to pin it to the shirt first! The reason for that is, we are going to commit the cardinal sin of sewing t-shirt material: we're going to STRETCH it!

Bring the shirt and the lace over to your sewing machine. Line up the end of the lace where you want it to begin, and stitch back and forth a few times to hold it in place. Now, using a narrow zig-zag and thread that matches the lace, grab the t-shirt itself and pull it TIGHT. Use your other hand to guide the lace so it doesn't veer too far off the edge of your shirt, but DON'T stretch the lace. Once you're done, the fabric should spring back to its normal shape (or close to it).

Now the reason I'm having you do it this way is because if you're adding a non-stretchy edging to a part of your shirt that needs to stretch (to get over your head, for example), it's going to make your life with your new t-shirt that much more difficult. This way, the shirt will still stretch, and you can still have your lace edging!

Dimentional Paint

Oh puffy paint. Where have you been all my life!

Oh yeah, you were always there. It just wasn't until recently that people started making vibrant, exciting dimensional paint that didn't look like shit! I used Tulip's Dimensional Fabric paint for this part.

Take your t-shirt, and if it has a design on it that you want to highlight, that's great! If not, you'll want to sketch out your design using a pen or tailor's chalk.

Use the fine tip of your paint bottle to trace around the design:

Then, using small strokes and gentle pressure, fill it in! This picture was taken before the paint had a chance to really set, so it looks a bit sloppy - but the cool thing about the dimensional paint is that it sits on top of the fabric and doesn't soak in hardly at all - allowing the paint to be as three-dimensional as it was when you first applied it.

It's not really like puffy paint at all - the shape of the paint doesn't change as it dries, it really does just stay put. You could probably also use a paintbrush to help get it smoother if you want. But I liked being able to take my Vibe logo and make it REALLY pop!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this series!! It was a lot of work but a lot of fun, and hopefully it covers enough bases and gives you enough ideas that you too can turn your stack of useless-but-awesome t-shirts into WEARABLE ART!!!

Have a fantastic weekend lovelies!!



  1. Beth, this is so friggin great. Can't. wait to make some of this stuff!

    1. Yay, thank you! I am pretty proud of it, and it was SO MUCH FUN to do it. Thanks for coming by!!!

  2. Aw heck ya! This is Laura P, by the way. Now that i'm looking at this comment section, i notice my i.r.l. name is not present. Not trollin, just sneaky internetz! Anyway, t-shirts. Yaaaaas. I have a whole pile with handmade hell written all over it. Or it will be, ONCE I GET MY HANDS ON SOME PUFF PAINT.