This is a tutorial of how to turn an old Jersey t-shirt into a pair of bloomers. It is a super easy project that takes me no long than 20 minutes (when uninterrupted). No serger required.
- Old jersey t-shirt
- Coordinating thread
- 1/2″ non-roll elastic (or other width if your pattern indicates)
- A child’s shorts pattern. If you don’t have a pattern to use, you can make your own copying another pair of shorts. Dana (of MADE fame) has a tutorial showing you how.
- Ball point needles (if you don’t have any don’t sweat it)
- Elastic Thread
Start with a men’s t-shirt. This is size L and it was plenty of fabric for my 2 1/2 year-old.
Lay your pattern piece on top of it and pin it down. My pattern (McCall’s 5416) came with separate pieces front and back, so I matched the two up at the seam line. If your t-shirt has any printing on it, it is your choice if you want to include it or not. I did on the grey shorts above, but will not for these.
Then cut it out. We are cutting through both the front and the back of the t-shirt to create two of the same pieces. Also, it is very helpful to mark the front and back seams of your pieces. I did this with different width notches.
For sewing knits, it is best to use a ball point needle, but I have gotten away with using a standard needle before. A ball point is best because it prevents snagging and skipped stitches.
Set your machine to sew a stretch stitch. If you don’t have one, a standard zig-zag stitch will work fine, too.
Fold the pant legs in half, right sides together.
Sew the leg inseam.
Repeat with other pant leg.
Turn one pant leg right side out.
Then insert into second pant leg. Their right sides will be facing. Match inseam and your front and back notches.
Sew the pant legs together along this curved edge. Pinning would be a good idea if you have never done this before. I have used this pattern so much, I could sew it in the dark. So, I didn’t. bad me.
Sew the casing ~3/4″ from the folded edge, but leave about 1″ unsewn to insert the elastic.
Cut elastic the child’s waist measurement. 1/2″ elastic is appropriate for this 3/4″ casing. Insert elastic into the casing.
Sew the two loose ends of the elastic together, overlapping 1/2 – 1″.
Sew the casing closed.
You could stop here if you like. The knit shouldn’t fray.
Or you could hem the legs if you want a more finished look. To hem, I turned under 1/2″ and stitched close to raw edge.
If you would like to make bloomers, continue on.
To make the leg gathers, I used elastic thread. If you haven’t used elastic thread before, Rae has compiled a list of “shirring resources” at the end of her baby sunsuit tutorial.
Here, I switch machines. Although I love Tabitha, I can’t figure out how to make elastic thread work with her drop-in bobbins. So here, I am using my old Bernette 50.
Load up your elastic thread into your bobbin and test your settings on a scrap piece of the t-shirt.
Starting at the inseam, stitch along one leg opening 1/2 – 5/8″ from the raw edge. Be sure to back-stitch at the start or the elastic thread will pull out.
Sew all the way around the leg opening until you reach your starting point (the inseam).
Then curve down 1/8″ from your last row of stitches and sew along the leg opening again. I learned this method from the sunsuit tutorial linked to above. I love it! (Conveniently, 1/8″ is the distance from the needle to the edge of the foot.)
When you finish the second row, back-stitch to secure the stitches. Then clip threads.
Repeat on the second leg opening and you are done!
Pictures of these bloomers in action can be found here.
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