When two become one

I have a shockingly bad record with keeping t-shirts clean when eating. I cannot be trusted with spaghetti bolognese, or pizza, or anything at all droppable. Whenever anything falls off my fork en route to my mouth, it will invariably fall onto my capacious bosom, and the mark will be right there in front, for the whole world to see. So I end up with a shed-load of t-shirts which are perfectly fine except for a very noticeable stain that I haven’t been able to shift in the wash. I’ve been holding onto these t-shirts for a while now, in the hope that I can do something with them, rather than throwing them away.

This pretty minty green long-sleeved tee had a couple of grease-spots on the right breast, and the paler green was from a camisole with some other indelible mark. The nice thing was the fabric on each of them was the same sort of weight, and I thought they would work well together.

I didn’t have any specific plans in my head when I put these two together, but I’m a girly kind of a girl, so I started out by cutting some flower shapes out of the paler camisole, and positioning them on the darker tee, to see if I liked it.



I sorta kinda did, and I could have gone all out for a straightforward appliqué job. But the jersey flowers were curling up, and although I *could* have appliquéed them and they would have stayed flat, I realised I liked the idea of the petals curling- it seemed organic, natural. I thought I could sew the flowers with a bit of gather in the centre to give them a more 3-D quality. And because I have plenty of beads in my stash, I fished out some clear seed beads to add to the mix.

The Rescued Tee

Up Close & Personal with those flowers

I wasn’t happy with just sewing the flowers on at the centre, especially as the jersey fabric is quite floppy. So you might just about be able to discern that I sewed along the middle of the petals as well, for stability and control. The other issue I struggled with was where to position the flowers. As far as I was concerned, they needed to be distributed in an aesthetically pleasing cascade, so long as they also covered up the grease spots! Since the spots were a bit awkwardly placed, the flower placement is probably not the formation I would have favoured, if stain-concealment hadn’t been a factor. But I think it works.

The "new" t-shirt in action!

The “good as new” t-shirt in action!

My chest is big enough without needing to attach big 3-dimensional flowers to it (though I have done so in the name of belly dance costuming!), so I like that the t-shirt is still essentially flat. It’s got texture and interest, but without too much bulk.

We’ll have to wait and see how it works out after repeated washing. I’m expecting the cut edges of the jersey to get slightly unravelled, but since it contains lycra (or something lycra-ish) and it’s a knit, I’m not desperately worried about it, and a distressed look will be ok with this.

I’m thrilled that I’ve taken two t-shirts that I was never going to wear again, and made them into one that I certainly will.


And talking of bellydance costuming, the photo above was taken at the Jewel of Yorkshire bellydance festival, which I was attending in Shipley (Saltaire, to be precise) this weekend. I spent a fair amount of time chatting with a couple of costumiers, and rummaging through their wares, to see how they’d beaded them, or decorated them, or finished them, or lined them, in fact generally blagging as much inspiration as I possibly could. And it has definitely reawakened my wish to finish the pink & black costume UFO. I’ve got a show at the end of April, and I’m hoping I can get it finished in time to wear there.


17 thoughts on “When two become one

  1. It’s beautiful Béa, now don’t spill anything on it!
    A shame i didn’t know you were up here this weekend, we could perhaps have squeezed in a coffee.

    • I will be *so* careful with this one!
      That coffee sounds good. Next time, maybe- it’s a twice a year festival, next one is in October- I’m not sure where you are exactly, but I’ll be sure to get in touch with you nearer the time.

  2. Well done! That’s a great idea and in fact I love the look of your redressed T. I too have the same problem but I have a double shelf… my boobs and my belly… If I drop something at least of shelf wears it but most times it’s usually both LOL

    • Gosh, that’s even worse! I should maybe count myself lucky that it’s just the boobs that have to act as dinner catchers.
      Thank you for the compliment- I’m loving this t-shirt, and I’m definitely going to be having a few more attempts at t-shirt rescues. I just need to have a think about all the different ways I can cover marks up!

  3. Nice save. I too have a closet full of shirts that have managed a stain here or there. I am not sure why they had not made their way to the trash but after seeing what you did to yours I know that I can fix a couple of my food mishaps. Great idea!

  4. What a clever idea! I just tossed a heap of tops that had stains and holes. Man, I could have refashioned them instead!
    Your top looks lovely 🙂

  5. Brilliant! Loving how this turned out, nice work. It looks so pretty.
    I, too, am in the ‘soup-scoop’ club as my mum calls it (guess whose body shape I inherited??) and have exactly the same positioned stains on many a too-loved-to-throw-out top. You’ve inspired me to save them!

    • Thanks Nancy! I’m lazy and I cut things freehand whenever I can get away with it. So I just cut out circles, and then trimmed them into flower shapes with five petals (in a couple of cases it was only four petals, because I didn’t get it quite right!). I sewed them on a bit scrunched up in the middle, to give them some texture, and allow the flowers to be more 3-D rather than sewing them on flat.

      And I’m sure you’ll be delighted to hear that the flowers have survived their first trip through the washing machine intact and they aren’t fraying or curling up horribly (just curling up prettily, the way I wanted them to). So it all seems to be working out fine.

  6. Well, they are the perfect addition and make the top look like a very expensive, custom design! Great job – and one I will remember for salvaging a few tops with spots.

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