Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jack-o-lantern T-shirt Tutorial

Does your child need a Jack-o-lantern tshirt? Silly question. OF COURSE he or she does. We had plans to go to the pumpkin patch last weekend (which fell through, otherwise I would have forced you to look at lots of "kid standing in a pumpkin patch" pictures by now), and the night before, I realized Josephine had nothing even remotely appropriate for such a venture. I ran to Target, to no avail. This was my best option (and it cost $12):

Girls' Hello Kitty Short-Sleeve Halloween Tee - Orange

No offense to Hello Kitty, but no thanks. They did, however, have plain orange t-shirts in the boys section for $5. I snagged one, stopped at the Hobb Lobb on the way home and bought a 1/4 yard of black cotton knit jersey for $2, and got to work. (If you are smarter than me and plan projects in advance, I'm sure you could find a WAY cheaper shirt and buy your jersey when it goes on sale. Then the price would be cheap to the maximum.)

This was the first time I tried this process, so I am clearly not an expert, and it didn't turn out perfectly, but it was relatively easy, and took less than an hour (including time staring at the fabric, panicking, unsure if I should cut or think about it for a while longer first).

Materials needed:
Orange t-shirt
Black jersey (I only ended up using like 5 square inches, so a 1/4 yard will be plenty, with lots to spare)
Fusible Interfacing (same as above for amount needed)
Orange thread 
Optional (for poofy sleeves):
Thin elastic

Cut your face out of scrap paper and place on the shirt to make sure it looks the way you want.

Trace your shapes backwards onto the WRONG side of the fusible interfacing (the bumpier/less soft side), then cut around it, giving it about an inch around the edges.

Place your shapes soft-side UP (or whatever the directions on your fusible interfacing says) and iron on to the fabric.

Turn your shirt inside out and lay out your pieces on the inside of the front of the shirt. It should be the opposite of what you want it to look like in the end, so if you have some intricate design with one side of the mouth curving up and you are going to be TICKED if the left side of the mouth is curving up instead of the right, then I just thought I'd mention it. I also traced the shapes onto the other side of the interfacing so I could see where to sew (I read that you shouldn't write on the side you are ironing, but to be quite honest, I have no idea how accurate this is. Who knows?) 

Since you are using a knit (most likely), you will want to use a ballpoint needle, if possible. The tip of the needle is a bit more rounded than a universal needle, which fits in between "knits" more easily, and will not rip the fabric or cause bunching. Mine cost like $1.50 and has been a lifesaver, especially when making Josephine's sweater dress. When my mom told me to get one a month ago, I said, "Now ... which fabrics are knits?" to which she replied, "Oh Lord" and walked away.

Sew along your guidelines, making sure you are only sewing the top layer of the shirt and not catching the bottom layer as well.

A little trick for the sharp corners, in case you didn't know. (I started doing this when I made Josephine her dinosaur, and I thought it must be bad form, or cheating at the very least, but when I told my mom I did it, and she was like, well DUH.)

Anyway, sew right up to where you want to make a 90-degree turn, make sure your needle is down (in the fabric) ....

Lift up the presser foot ...

Turn your material so you are pointed the direction you want to resume sewing ...

Then put your foot back down and sew!

When you finish sewing, trim off as much of the excess as you safely can.

Turn your shirt inside out (and try not to cry if you notice your face pieces shifted slightly while sewing), and using one hand to pull the black fabric DOWN and the other hand to pull the orange fabric UP, cut a snip out of the orange fabric.

Use that as a starting point, and cut right up next to the seam you sewed.

Yay! You now have a Jack-o-lantern face! If you don't want poofy sleeves, you can stop here.

If you want to make the poofy sleeve, you could make your own casing for elastic, but most shirts you buy in the store will have a large enough hem you can use (If not, just turn the fabric under, iron, and skip to the step where you insert the elastic).


Rip a one-inch part of the seam out (I recommend near the armpit, on the back, so it's not very visible -- just in case).

Depending on the shirt, the vertical seam might have been reinforced, meaning you will have to tear out a vertical inner seam to be able to get the elastic all the way through (don't worry, you probably won't mess up the outside vertical seam).

Measure your darling's upper arm, then add one inch, and cut two strips of elastic that length. Push a safety pin through the edge of the elastic, close, then use the safety pin to easily push your elastic through the entire casing. If you are afraid of pulling the other side in and losing it, you can put another safety pin on that side.

Once it is all the way through, grab the two ends, lay one on top of the other, overlapping one inch so you can sew it securely enough (that's what the extra inch above is for), and sew. You can hand sew or machine sew. I'm not gonna lie -- for a little sleeve, it can be a little tricky on the machine, but the machine will probably sew it better. My machine has an elastic setting. It looks like this (number 10):

I like to make a mark on the elastic where the elastic underneath ends so I don't keep sewing ... not that I ever did that.

Shove that elastic up into the casing so you don't catch it when you sew the seam back closed.

Sew the seams back closed. If there are two seams (as there likely will be), you can pop on a double needle (I got mine for $4.20, 60% off :) and most machines either accommodate the second spool of thread or can be jerry-rigged to do so), but it wasn't worth it to me to switch out the needles for that one inch of sewing.

Repeat with the other sleeve, and there you have it!

Then you're done! Put it on your kid and take them to a pumpkin patch, stat! We will be heading there tomorrow, so stay tuned for several hundred "Josephine running and screaming in a pumpkin patch" pictures.

If you make one of your own, I would love to see a picture!

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