1955 Cadillac ConvertibleI’ve always wanted a yellow, circa 1955 convertible, but that’s not the kind I mean.  I’m talking about T-shirt conversions.  I don’t really like to wear t-shirts–the necks bind, and they have no form–but I love t-shirt art.  It’s wearable pop art, elegance be damned.  I drooled over the beautiful conversions on Etsy, but I couldn’t quite click the Buy button.  Oh, they are quite worth the $40-90.  The prices I see on Etsy are quite reasonable for the level of sartorial skill and unique design aesthetic.

It’s just that I have piles of old t-shirts I can’t bear to throw out. So they become skirts, braided shirts, and when the plan fails, rags.  Today I got a wild hair.  I had an old, extra large Grateful Dead t-shirt–tie-dye aqua blue with skulls and roses–that my sweetie got for me at a Grateful Dead concert (one of their last) right after we met.  That makes the t-shirt about 18 years old.  The fabric was still sound, so I decided to convert it into a pinafore-styled cover-up to wear over a loose shirt or too short top.

I used the jumper layer of a short dress I really like as a size pattern.  The front of the T became the back, a sleeve became a pocket, strips of another t-shirt provided the cords for the side ruching, and voilà!  Pinafore/cover-up.  I love, love, love asymmetry, so the angled front dart, uneven straps, and trapezoid pocket are all (or mostly) intentional.   I like to go with the flow and not do much pinning.  I often leave rough edges and stretch for a curly stretch effect on t-shirt material, but for this piece, I sewed the edges under.  I will never let anyone see the lack of workmanship.

Still, I’m happy with it.  Enjoy the transformation, I know I did.


Before: Almost dead Grateful Dead T-shirt


After: Pinafore / Jumper conversion


After: Reverse side–front is now back, ruching on sides


T-shirt conversion: a little Steampunkery


After: T-shirt conversion detail–askew pocket and ruching




T-shirt on me

T-shirt conversion in 3D