Introduction: Matching Gloves and Top Made From a Long-sleeved Shirt

About: I am an artist and clothing designer with a passion for helping others bring their own creative dreams to life.

If you think gloves are too hard to make, I dare you to try this easy method! Start with a long-sleeved shirt, and end with a short-sleeved shirt and a matching pair of gloves that was custom-made for you.

When I'm outside during chilly weather, I'm always wearing a coat that keeps my arms warm. But what about my poor hands? I've got oddly long thumbs (don't tell anyone), so the gloves that I buy never fit me that well. If I buy a size up, the other fingers are too big, and all that extra fabric robs my dexterity! Gah! 

It hit me one day that if I selected my fabric carefully, making gloves really COULD be this easy. I tried it, and it worked beautifully! I've made lots of gloves since then, and now I'm going to share this method with everyone else. I'm including a variation for fingerless gloves (for using a touchscreen) in the last step.

What's that? You need a pattern? You've already got one! It's called... your hands!

Step 1: Choose Your Fabric

Choosing the right fabric is very important. If you have a shirt that's part spandex, it will be perfect... but any stretchy knit that's about as thick as a t-shirt will work. Thicker shirts (like sweaters) don't work well because it just isn't as comfortable to have thick fabric in between your fingers.

To figure out if the shirt is stretchy enough, hold the shirt fabric with your hands 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Don't hold the shirt by the stitched hem; just the plain fabric on the belly of the shirt. Now stretch your hands apart, and make sure that the part in between your hands stretches easily to 8 inches (20 cm). If it does, it will work great for making these gloves! Woohoo!

Step 2: Cut the Sleeves Off

Cut the sleeves off of the shirt so that it looks like a short-sleeved shirt. If you'd like, you can hem the shirt's new, shorter sleeves by turning under 1/2" (1.25 cm) and stitching it down with a long (6 mm) straight stitch. That's optional, because the raw edges won't unravel if you leave them as they are on the shirt.

Step 3: Trace Your Hand

Take the sleeve pieces you cut off, turn them inside-out, and place your arm on top. Your fingertips should be pointing towards the edge you just cut, and your elbow should be near the end that used to be the cuffs. Spread your fingers apart a bit, so that you can trace all the way down to the base of each of your fingers. 

Use a fabric-marking pen that contrasts with the fabric, and lean it against your arm to hold it steady. Tilt the marking pen, making the angle steep enough that it draws a line roughly 1/2" (1.25 cm) away from your arm. Keep going until you pass your wrist, then gradually tip the pen so that it's pointing almost straight up and down. (Your fingers won't need as much extra room as your arm does!) Check out the pictures to get an idea of how to hold the pen.

Step 4: Pin and Sew

Now pin both layers of the sleeve together, using lots of pins. Pin on both sides of the line you drew. If you're not sure if you used enough pins or not, it's always best to add a few more! 

Take the sleeve to the sewing machine and sew right on the lines you drew, using a very short stitch length (1.5 mm) and a size 11 ball-point needle. (Depending on where you live, the needle may also be called size 75, and might be referred to as a "stretch" needle.)

When you reach the bottom of each finger, sew a few stitches across the bottom of the V before turning and continuing on to the next finger. (So that your stitching lines at the base of each finger look like \../ instead of V.) This will make it easier to cut the gloves out, and they will also look and feel nicer once they're turned right-side out.

Be sure to backtack (sew a few stitches in reverse) at the beginning and end of your seams to keep them from coming undone!

Step 5: Cut the Gloves Out

Now you can take all the pins out.

Cut away the excess fabric, about 1/8" (1/3 cm) from your stitching line.

Turn the gloves right-side out, and try them on! 

Step 6: Add Grippers (optional)

If you want a little more grip to your gloves, you can take a bottle of dimensional fabric paint and add little dots or swirls to give yourself more traction. Here, I'm wearing a pair of black gloves on which I've painted designs with silver metallic fabric paint.

It's much easier to wear the gloves, one at a time, while you paint with your other hand. Having your hand inside the glove will hold it steady and keep the paint from soaking through to the back side. You'll need to keep from smearing the paint until it's set (it takes about an hour), so watch a movie while you're waiting.

Paint matching designs around the collar of the shirt, if you want to! Put a layer of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt so that the paint doesn't seep through.

Step 7: Fingerless Gloves Variation

If you want your fingertips free for texting or using a touchscreen, you can make a pair of fingerless gloves! For fingerless gloves, follow the previous directions, but only trace your hand up to the first joint of each thumb and finger. You'll have two long seams, as well as one seam that looks like a fish hook, and three short seams shaped like the letter V. Be sure to backtack at the beginning and end of all those seams!

When you cut the gloves out, just make a cut straight across from the top of one stitching line to the top of the next line. Don't worry about finishing the raw edges where you cut the gloves out. The fabric won't unravel, and the gloves will be much more comfortable and easy to wear if you leave the edges raw.

And there you have it! If you make your own pair of gloves, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it went!

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