Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Upcycled Reversible Piggie Braids Tank Tutorial

Hello, I'm Heather, and I'm a t-shirt addict.

I've actually been really trying to quit the habit and become an adult (instead of a lounge-around-wearing-only-t-shirts-and-sweats bum), and one step on the road to recovery is re-using my shirts.  Trust me; I have plenty to spare.

Plus, I'm realizing that part of my clothes-designing style is comfort, washability and longevity.  I want my girls to feel free to play and get dirty, and if at all possible, I want them to be able to wear their clothes for two, maybe even three or four years. 

And what's more washable and comfortable than a t-shirt??  Plus, if I make their tops long enough, the inherently stretchy material will allow them to be worn for years to come.  Boo.  Yah.

I'm pretty excited about this latest upcycle, not just because I was less than thrilled with my polyester attempt.  (It wasn't exactly a wear everywhere and play outfit.)  I love it because it's inspired by Noelle's cute braided pigtails... and I'm longing for tank top weather! :)  Oh, and it comes together quickly and has its own flair with the braiding embellishment.  Plus, it can be easily appliqued and, if your kid happens to spill chocolate milk down her front, you can just flip it to the other side.  Bonus!

2 t-shirts that you've loved but MUST discard because, stop kidding yourself, you're an adult and should wear blouses (or whatever it is adults wear...)
1 elastic hair tie
sewing stuff
tank pattern (see my tutorial HERE for creating it!)

You want your two t-shirts to coordinate.  As you can see, I'm already planning for 4th of July.  Please come soon, summer! :)

Grab one t-shirt and fold it over.  Cut out front pattern piece, adding at least 7 inches straight up from the shoulder.  The longer you cut it, the longer your braid will be at the end.

Here's what it will look like.

For the back cut straight across from under the armhole.

Sew side seams together.

Do the same with your other shirt, so you have two of the same.

Now fold your straps down, so you can mark where you want the braid to hit.

Place a mark (or pin) where the strap hits the back piece.

Turn one shirt right sides out and place inside other one.  Line up edges and pin.

Cut your elastic hairband in two.  Fold one of the pieces in half and line up the elastic with the mark you made.  Pin in place (carefully-- it will want to move).  **You also want the loop to be somewhat small, so it holds tightly to your straps when your kiddo is wearing the tank.

Mark where your neckline moves into the strap.  Do this at the neck and the outside of the strap (on both sides).  You're going to stop sewing there, leaving the straps separate.

  Sew the neckline, beginning and ending at the marks you made.  Then sew around the armholes and back piece, sewing two tanks together.

Flip them right sides out and press.

Top stitch around the tank, again leaving the straps separated.

Line up the hems and, stitching close to the edge, sew shirts together.

Now the fun part!  Flatten and line up the straps as best you can.

Cut each strap into three pieces, either using a rotary cutter or scissors.  I actually cut most of the way with the rotary cutter and finished with scissors for more accuracy.  Keep cutting until you get to where the two sides are sewn together.

Get a needle and thread ready for when your finished braiding.  And BRAID! :)  Then stitch the pieces together.  I did this haphazardly-- you just want to make sure you catch all 6 pieces at some point.

Wrap one strand around the rest and, using that same needle and thread, stitch it down.

Do the same on the other strap.  Before you finish it off, make sure it's the same length.

Then slip 'em through your elastic in the back.   Pigtails!!! :)

And tie a ribbon on if you like!  (This will also keep the straps in place better.  If you want you could tack it on, so it's a permanent fixture.)


  1. This is adorable and SO clever, Heather!!! I just love the braids and the fact that it's reversible!!! As always, a great tutorial. I'd love you to link this up to two of our ongoing parties: Children's Tops and Sewing with Stretch Fabric...

  2. i love this! i'll have to try it! :-)

  3. I love that this is reversible and Texas Rangers colors! I need to dig around for shirts ASAP :)

  4. I love that this is reversible and Texas Rangers colors! I need to start searching for shirts ASAP :)


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