Tuesday 6 November 2012

DIY Ruffle T-Shirt: Clothes For Big Boobs, Budget Edition

I was really inspired when I read this tutorial for a ruffled T-shirt on Tea Rose Home. It's a really cute blog written by a woman who does lots of crafty clothes-altering, and if you click around on her list of popular posts, you'll see she has done loads of ruffled T-shirts!

I wanted to try to combine the ruffly element of the project with some of the alterations I regularly do on giant baggy men's clothes to get a custom fit for my bust. If you would like a reminder of the ol' "trace a top that fits onto the giant top and sew along those seams" deal, you can see my posts on that here and here.

This is the finished product that I'm going to show you how to make:

To do this project, you'll need a t-shirt of the length and color you want. In the Tea Rose Home tutorial, she uses two t-shirts, and cuts one of them apart into strips to make into ruffles. If you want to use just one shirt, like I did, you will need a shirt big enough that the fabric you take in off the sides will be enough for the ruffles. Alternatively, you could also use a normal-sized long-sleeved top and cut off the sleeves to use that fabric as your ruffles. I prefer to use large men's t-shirts because they end up the length of tunics on me.

In my post on altering the sweatshirt, I mentioned that once you've taken in the seams, you should test the fit by trying on the item inside out. That way, you can make sure that the fit is not too loose or too tight, and the extra fabric won't bunch up inside and make it hard to tell. I figured I should share a photo of how hilarious it looks when you do this. Here's my light blue, $3.99 CVS Pharmacy men's t-shirt taken in:

Once you've verified the fit, cut off the extra fabric on the sides. Try to cut close the seams and keep it neat, because these scraps are what you will use to make the ruffles. After I cut off the extra fabric, I trimmed off the section that had been part of the sleeve and then cut each strip down the center (what would have been the sides of the shirt). This left me with four strips.

Then I trimmed those strips so that they were relatively even and rectangular. I found, working with cheap cotton jersey, the strips tended to roll up and were pretty annoying to work with. But for some reason, this tendency went away once they had become ruffles, so just work carefully and don't worry too much about the rolling at this point.

Next step: the neckline. If you like the neckline of the t-shirt as it is, you can skip this part and leave it as is. But I find men's t-shirts tend to have necklines that are a bit too high and a bit too rough-looking to go with what I wanted, so away it went. With the t-shirt still inside out, I traced the neckline of another top onto the front:

To line up the back neckline, I cut the back so it was the same as where the front of the neckline had originally been, like so:

With the front cut out, I was left with this:

 And I then simply cut the back so it lined up with the front. That way, it all ended up being fairly symmetrical. But you can cut the neckline however you want. I would just caution to make sure to cut it a tiny bit higher than you think you need, as it will not be hemmed in the back and will therefore stretch slightly with wear.

 The finished neckline:

 Next, it's time to prepare the strips into ruffles. You pretty much need a sewing machine for this, although perhaps if you don't have one you could MacGyver something. To create ruffles on a machine, set the stitch to a straight stitch on a very wide setting--on my machine, I turn the dial past 4, to where the stitch length setting just looks like this - - - - - - - -

Don't sew backwards to seal the seam at the beginning or end--you want to be able to pull the threads to create the ruffle. You basically just sew one straight seam along the top edge of the fabric strip. Once the seam is sewn, grab the top thread and gently pull the fabric into a ruffle. I actually found I didn't need to pull it myself, because the strip got ruffled just by sewing it on that wide setting.

I made three ruffles and lined them up as they would sit on the t-shirt.

At this point I decided I wanted the top ruffle to be thinner, so I cut the fourth strip of fabric in half lengthwise and sewed that into two more thin ruffles. I layered those slightly--you can see they meet and cross in the middle.

With everything in place, I pinned the ruffles in place and then sewed them with a regular, thin stitch (not the same wide stitch you'd use to make the ruffles). When you pin the ruffles, make sure that they are close-set enough that the ruffle above will cover the seam of the next ruffle down. The seam at the top will show, but if you use a matching thread color, this shouldn't look very messy.

The final step is to go over the shirt and trim all the loose threads that are left--there will be a lot! Trimming all the loose threads is essential when you're doing DIY projects that you intend to wear because a single loose thread will make it obvious that you made the top yourself, which in my opinion sort of takes away the mystique of the whole thing.

You can also shorten or hem the sleeves if you'd like, but I just folded mine up to a shorter length. And here's my finished budget ruffled top for big boobs:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I have been enjoying doing sewing projects and alterations recently and I have more posts like this to come.


  1. You are a genius. =] I would try this but it would turn out a mess.

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  3. Yay! Great post! The instructions look so easy even I might actually succeed. I'm going to try this come weekend.

  4. Interesting idea! I wouldn't have thought to add so many big ruffles to the front, but it actually works on you.

    One word of warning to all those modding shirts: The neckline of jersey/t-shirt material stretches super easy, and also rolls. So start with small changes!

  5. Amazing post...!!! really I appreciate it.


  6. aire bra Said
    that is good blog for ever in my life i really like it very much..& nice posting.I have no words for this post

  7. Hey that's really a fantastic idea... Thanks for sharing

  8. This is great! I've done similar things with too-large shirts (camp shirts, ugh), but not in as much detail. This inspires me to flex my sewing skills more!

  9. Although I am quite crafty in other ways, I had never been a machine sewer until I got a sewing machine last Christmas. I will definitely try this!

    Amber Benson.


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  10. Thanks for sharing! That's such an awesome idea!