Sew Knits with Confidences Nancy Zieman



Are you looking to make your favorite T-shirt pattern, but can’t find the right fabric or color? Check out “boxy” ready made knit tops or T-shirts that, perhaps, lack style but have a great color or fabric, and give that new fabric a makeover! This T-shirt makeover idea is included in my book, Sew Knits with Confidence. There are 128-pages of knit tips and techniques.  The fabric rosettes are another of the makeover options and featured in a separate blog. Click here to learn how to add 3-D  embellishments.

T-Shirt Makeover

Step #1: Purchase Two Tops

  •  Purchase two tops, one your size and the other the largest size available to provide more yardage. Why? You’ll be able to use the finished neckline and hemline of the ready-made top. That means less sewing time. Plus, you can adjust the pattern in just the right place for a perfect fit or change the length of the sleeves or hem. (I am not fond of short sleeves, so with this makeover the body of the T-shirt is more flattering and the sleeves are 3/4 length.)


how to sew a t-shirt makeover



Step #2: Cut Apart Top A

  • Begin with the T-shirt purchased that is your size. Cut apart the top (Top A) along each side and underarm seam.


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Step #3: Lay Out the T-Shirt Front Pattern

  • Use your favorite T-shirt pattern to create a new top. If you’re looking for a pattern option, click here.
  • Fold Top A in half, meeting side edges, shoulder seams, and center front.
  • Overlay the front  T-shirt pattern on Top A, matching center fronts and the shoulder seams.
  • Pin the pattern to the fabric.


how-to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



  • Make certain to align the pattern’s shoulder stitching line (not the cutting line) on the sewn shoulder seam.

How-to makeover a t-shirt Nancy Zieman

Step #4: Cut Out the T-Shirt Front

  •  Cut along the pattern side seams and armholes; do not cut the shoulder seams or hemline. For a timesaving step, use the hem of the finished top, unless of course, it’s much longer than you like.


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Step #5: Lay Out the T-Shirt Back Pattern

  • Refold Top A aligning side edges, shoulder seams, and center back.
  • Overlay the T-shirt back pattern piece, matching center back and shoulder seams with Top A. Pin the pattern to the top. If the neckline doesn’t conform exactly with your pattern shape, use the ready-made neckline.


how-to-makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Step #6: Cut Out the Back Pattern

  • Cut out the fabric, following the shape of the pattern. Do not cut the shoulder seam or the hemline.


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Step #7: Mark the Pattern Notches

  • Mark the pattern notches on the cut-out fabric, using a water-erasable fabric marker.

Step #8: Cut Out the Sleeves

  • Place Top B on a cutting surface, aligning the hem edges.
  • Place the hemline of the sleeve pattern along the finished hem of Top B.
  • Cut out the sleeve pattern. Mark the notches.


how-to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



  • Save the remaining fabric from Top B for embellishment. (You’ll learn how to create the rosettes in next Tuesday’s blog!)

Step #9: Set in the Sleeves

  • The shoulder seams and neckline are already finished. The only steps that remain are to set-in the sleeves and stitch the underarm seams. Stitch or serge the sleeves to the armholes, following the instructions in your pattern.

Step #10: Stitch the Underarm Seams

  • Align edges at both the sleeve and lower hemlines. Pin. Since the hemlines are already finished, take extra time to align the edges of the finished hemlines.


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



  • Stitch or serge the underarm seams.
  • If the seams are serged, stitch the serger thread into the seam with a straight stitch. Clip off the excess thread tails.


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Excerpts from Sew Knits with Confidence

This T-shirt makeover idea is included in my book, Sew Knits with Confidence. There are 128-pages of knit tips and techniques.


Sew Knits with Confidence by Nancy Zieman



More T-Shirt Makeover Ideas

Use the leftover fabric from Top B and create rosettes. Learn how by clicking here to read my blog on creating the 3-D fabric flowers!


how to makeover a t-shirt by Nancy Zieman



Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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