Friday, March 26, 2010

T-Shirts Gone Crazy !

I like to wear something that I have created when I lecture and teach.  I have some basic criteria for the ensemble I wear.  First, it has to be stylish and cute.  Preferably making me look younger and skinny. That one has been a little harder to achieve lately, but I am still trying.  I figure that I can't stop the aging process but will go down looking the best I can. My mom taught us girls that and she is a very beautiful woman at 70 something and so is my friend, Peggy. She always looks HOT and is having a big birthday this year. Hopefully, we will be celebrating in Hawaii. Can't wait.

While having coffee with Peggy the other day, she started telling me about this wearable art technique using 100% cotton recycled t-shirts. The book is called Alabama Stitches.  A great book, using t-shirts fabrics and reverse applique.

While I was waiting for my book to arrive from I started my own interpretation from what Peggy had told me. This sounded like cool technique and I was starting to getting obsessed with the idea.

The next day I was shopping with my husband for new work clothes.  He recently got a promotion. (I am so proud) and I was supposed to be helping Joe find a shirt when my mind started to wander over to the Tony Hawk (of skateboard fame) t-shirt rack.  I started fondling the t-shirts right there in public. Like you haven't done that, too!

Shopping with Joe is sometimes hard for me.  I love being with him but he is a little slower than I am in making decisions. He also likes to research, compare, contemplate and hardly every makes mistakes because he is very thorough.

My shopping style is a lot different. I like to walk fast, scan the perimeters, then get in and get out.  I know what I want and what will work so I grab it and go. Maybe I should have been a man (that would be very awkward for Joe).

So this day my mind started thinking of that wearable technique as I waited for Joe to decide if those 501s fit the same as the other 501s.  I was starting to go crazy. Back to the shirts. I grabbed a brown, a burgundy and a wine color each in XL.  I was going to try this when we got home.

You first deconstruct the t-shirt and then stencil a design.  I didn't do that on my Tony Hawk shirt, above.

The book gives you a leaves stencil design. Then you cut and reverse applique your stenciled shapes using the other t-shirt behind (above).

Then you can add beads to embellish. The Alabama Stitches technique even lets the thread knots show on the top of the work. It's so cute.

I didn't have the kind of thread they were using, so I used what I had, which was pearl cotton size 8.
It is turning out so great that I ran to Target and bought a pack of men's XL white t-shirts and dyed them cool colors and have spent the last week making these fun wearable art t-shirts that have had a mind of their own (below).On the shirt above I used some beautiful blue and turquoise hand dyed pearl cotton I had bought from Laura Wasilowski. I am ruching the neckline using more of her thread and soon going to add beads. This one has a uneven hem and cap sleeves and it fits!!!  Now to find the right pants.

I think I will teach this technique one day at my May retreat in Tahoe. If you aren't signed up yet, we have just reduced the price. This is a great deal for 5 days and 4 nights of classes, plus all meals and your room.
A single room is $550, double is $500 and a non-participating guest is $350. It's right on the lake and some rooms have lake views.  Plus, we are going to play with fabric, try some new stuff and maybe play with  beads.  What could be better?

If you are interested let me know at  This is a shameless plug.  You can also go to my website for more information.


  1. What a wonderful designer's eye you have! THose tees are superb! I'd love to look fab and skinny too. What is in the stores for my fat body is very unflattering (although not much looks good anyway, but if it could be in colors that suit me rather than the trend colors would help)....was that book super helpful, or are you winging it pretty much on your own? Shelley

  2. I am wing it mostly but the book is very inspirational. thanks for the nice words. Melinda

  3. Terrific and just in time for spring! Now I know what to do with my old Tees, rather than using them as dust cloths. Thanks so much for the inspiration. You should think about doing patterns . . . . .

  4. WOW - how beautiful and smart and inspirational!! Thank you so much for posting this and sharing - you are the best!
    My 25 yo daughter is so into recycle/reuse AND sewing that last night when I showed her this and Alabama Stitches, she was thrilled and we ordered the book too!
    Too bad I can't be on lake Tahoe in May, but as soon as I have the opportunity, I am taking a class with you - any class! Love your work! (quilts, T-shirts, dolls...any!) Thank you again for all the inspirational blog posts - I always look forward for them.

  5. The tshirt is fantastic. You can now do a new book about how to make them using YOUR patterns. Also like the reverse applique...something new for me!