I work with yarn - it's what I do :) When I came across some t-shirts that my teen no longer can wear and I thought, "What could I do with this?" The answer of course is to somehow work some yarn on to it, lol :)
I dared to cut this t-shirt down the front and worked some magic, voila! You got this cool new look :)
Well, magic, meaning I used hem tape, a sewing stitch called back stitch as the base to single crochet the new front portion on to it, lol :) (You could knit the front instead of crochet)
You can't add yarn to a t-shirt fabric using a sharp tapestry needle without adding big holes and well becoming super frustrated - believe me I've tried :( but you can when you use a regular sewing needle and some thread. You won't see this part in the finished garment. It just magically floats there on the t-shirt. Let your friends marvel at your super skills and wonder how you did it :)
Let's get started...
Step 1: Supplies
T-Shirt you would like to upcycle
Ruler or Yard Stick
Hem Tape - You can get this from Wal-Mart if they have a sewing department - It's a fusible bonding tape that with the use of an iron bonds your hem for you so you don't have to sew it.
Regular sewing needle
Crochet hook appropriate for the thickness of your yarn or knitting needle if you would like to knit the front.
Step 2: Prepare the T-shirt
Find the center of your t-shirt by using a ruler or yardstick. Measure twice before you begin cutting.
Cut down the center front of the t-shirt.
Now fold under the cut edge to the wrong side about 1" and iron this seam (no hem tape yet - just to mark this fold)
Repeat on the other cut side.
Now using regular scotch tape, tape down the sides to wrong side of fabric. This just keeps the fabric in place while you work the next step.
Step 3: Creating the Anchor for the Yarn...
We are going to be using the center of the fold as the location for these back stitches.
Don't worry the back stitch is very simple to do and it's very strong, too.
*Thread the needle using thread measuring double the length of the t-shirt. Knot the end.
*Starting at the bottom. Place a ruler along the folding edge of the t-shirt for a reference.
Insert needle 1/2 from bottom in the fold. Now reference above picture - you are going to insert needle back a 1/2" close to the edge, and then push the needle out at the 1" mark - (it's the next 1/2" mark from the starting point) One back stitch is made. The stitches will all be about 1/2" in size.
Because of the length of thread being used here, pull thread slowly as you work to prevent knots.
The next and all back stitches are made by inserting the needle back to the top of previous stitch, then pushing needle out 1/2" from the bottom of new stitch. It sounds harder than it is to complete.
Keep stitches firm and even, not tight. Do not worry too much if the stitch sizes are not exactly 1/2" as long as they are close enough.
Continue in this way until you reach the neckline. I stopped 2" from the top but you decide what you would like to do.
For the last stitch, you work back as usual but pushing needle out at the bottom of stitch just created, as you pull through move needle back in the loop before completed to create a knot. Push needle back to underside, leaving a 4" tail clip thread.
Repeat these steps for other side of t-shirt.
Step 4: Hem Tape Time...
Now, open up fold, lay down the hem tape to match the length of the t-shirt. Cut.
Following directions on back of hem tape, iron hem close making sure to enclose the sewing threads.
Repeat for other side.
Step 5: Picking Up Stitches to Crochet or Knit :)
Insert hook under 1st back stitch and yarn over, now chain 1. Insert hook under same 1st back stitch, yarn over and now yarn over, drawing through 2 loops on hook, the 1st single crochet is complete. Insert hook under 1st back stitch again to single crochet another stitch. A total of two stitches. Move to next back stitch and complete 2 single crochets by inserting hook under the thread loop, yarning over and pulling yarn through, then yarning over and going through the 2 loops on the hook.
I used a sport weight yarn - which allowed for 2 single crochet stitches in each 1/2" loop. If you use a thicker yarn you will be able to create 1 SC stitch in each thread loop. While using a thinner yarn you will be able to fit more stitches in it - I used a lace weight and got 6 stitches in each thread loop. The secret is not overfilling each thread loop so that it won't bunch up. You want just enough stitches to fit across neatly covering the thread loop.
Once you have single crocheted across the thread loops you could stop there and weave in the ends, then repeat for the other side. See above pic for look.
For the look I have, I single crocheted a total of 10 rows which measures 1 1/2" in total. Working sc as usual in the stitches just created across. I angled the neckline by slipping the last two stitches, then chain one to turn, skip 1st stitch, sc across to end.
To pick up stitches, push needle tip under 1st thread loop through the front, pick up yarn, pull back through. Then move yarn to front and insert needle from back under 1st thread loop and pick up another stitch. Continue in this way to pick up stitches. For sport weight yarn I was able to pick up two stitches with every thread loop. Using thinner yarn, you'll be able to pick up 4-6 stitches per thread loop. You want them to be even not bunched up unless you want a ruffled appearance. Thicker yarn you will only be able to pick up 1 stitch per loop which you will need to alternate inserting needle in front to back loop pick up.
You can use garter stitch as it won't curl under and gives a solid look.
When completed, knot and weave in ends.
Step 6: Finishing...
When done, you want to block the crochet or knit work by placing a wet washcloth on top and then iron lightly. Do not iron the yarn directly.
You'll see that both sides are nice and clean.
If you want a simple closure. You can attach a tie by cutting a 24" piece of yarn, fold in half. Decide where you would like it to go, insert hook under 1 stitch, grab center of the yarn and draw through stitch, now insert the ends of the yarn through the loop just created and pull tight :)
Yay, you're all done!
Pat yourself on the back and admire your work.
You can venture more with this technique and try different crochet or knit stitches to create a whole new look :)