Tee shirt Makeover

28 Mar


I’ve been dressing up some tee shirts. It’s a simple wardrobe makeover: find some lace, insert it into a tee shirt, and voila, a dressier, more fashionable casual wardrobe.

But in case anyone wants a “how to”, I took some pictures along the way.

I started with a plain tee shirt and a piece of purchased lace. I got a variety of lace panels from a now-defunct Etsy shop, but searching for “lace applique” or “Venice lace” on Etsy still turns up a huge number of great options.


I like to use a twin needle for tee shirts, because it lets the jersey stretch. Since the applique is fairly rigid and non-stretchy, I don’t know how important that is, but you’ll see all the stitching for this is double.

I started by pinning the collar in place to the tee shirt, where I wanted it to sit.


Notice I left a little bit of overlap at the top shoulder seam–this is so that I can tuck that end of lace into to the shoulder and have the lace come to a neat join, with the body of the shirt. (Also, notice how many of my pins are bent. In spite of my mother’s careful instructions, I have a bad habit of running over pins in my sewing machine…it’s also how I broke my last twin needle, so I tried to be more careful this time.)


Then I top-stitched the whole thing into place, sewing right over the lace along the edge, stitching it to the shirt. (This particular piece of lace is slightly scalloped, so I followed the curves of the lace.)

At this point I cut out the tee-shirt collar with a scissors, cutting close to the seam to give me as much fabric as possible. I didn’t take a picture of this, but you’ll notice the collar is missing in all the pictures from here on out. I didn’t rip out the seam, I just cut the whole collar right off.

Then I opened the shoulder seam a couple of inches down from the neckline, using a seam ripper.


I tucked the end of the lace applique into the opened shoulder, and pinned it closed again….


…and then stitched it in place, through the layers of tee shirt fabric and lace, together.


Now it looks like this:


I also stitched a simple hem around the back neckline, folding under the raw hemline where the collar used to be:


(Cat hair optional. Or not, at my house.)

Then I turned to the inside and cut three snips to loosen the front of the tee shirt from its new lace panel: one at the top of each shoulder, next to the shoulder seam, and one down the center front, right to the point of the “V”. This allows me to fold back two panels and “hem” the inside of that neckline.


Here I trim the excess fabric after hemming this, you can see that shoulder seam from the inside:


I also top-stitched that hem once, folding back the lace and stitching really close to it, so that those scallops would be held really smooth.


I pressed the whole thing with a hot iron, and it was done. It didn’t take very long, and now it’s a totally femme and fun take on a sporty classic.

Here’s another shot of that shoulder seam, where lace meets tee. You can also see how that edge scallop covers over my line of top-stitching on the jersey:


8 Responses to “Tee shirt Makeover”

  1. mrsmole March 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Great photos and such a cool result! The mind is racing thinking of all the colors that this lace might come in to reproduce this for others!

  2. truebluemeandyou March 30, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    Love how this turned out and I (and my readers) love tee shirt makeovers. I posted the top pic and the before (tee shirt and lace) with a link back to you on my Tumblr blog truebluemeandyou.

  3. Laura March 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I have to giggle: all that work to make something that is de rigueur in fat girl sizes. I have a terrible time finding dressy shirts that >don’t< have lace or spangles or ruffles. But I also suspect yours fits a whole lot better than the mass-produced ones, is better constructed (not hard in fat girl land), and is a better quality lace as well.

    • handmadejulie March 31, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      Most of what I make–well, maybe all of it, or nearly all– is readily available to buy, retail. But that’s not the point, is it? We don’t take the time to hand knit our own socks because we can’t find socks to buy in a store!

  4. eileenxq March 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    What a super idea for turning a boring tee shirt into a lovely garment. You rock!


  1. 9 ideias de como customizar camiseta com renda | Customizando.net - Blog de customização de roupas e decoração - August 19, 2013

    […] 5. Camiseta customizada com renda no decote – https://handmademess.com/2013/03/28/tee-shirt-makeover/#more-1282 […]

Leave a Reply to handmadejulie Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: