How to Upcycle T-Shirt Hems

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Learn how to upcycle t-shirt hems to turn an adult t-shirt into a child sized t-shirt using a free sewing pattern. I love skipping hems!

One of the most basic upcycles is to use an adult shirt to make a child’s shirt. It is fun and quick and satisfying.

I really dislike sewing hems. It’s often the last step in constructing a garment, so I feel finished but there’s that one short, nagging thing left to do. If I can skip sewing hems, I do!

In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to reuse the hems of an adult t-shirt.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

The pocket’s stripes fit perfectly in between the shirt’s stripes. It was a happy accident which often happens while upcycling! If you are sewing stripes this is how to match stripes.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

Here’s some tips for sewing knit fabric.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

what is upcycling?

Upcycling is to reuse material to create something better than the original. I usually use this to describe when I’m sewing adult clothing into clothing for children or I’m sewing clothing into an accessory or house item.

Upcycling saves time, saves money, saves the environment, and saves memories.

Save time by reusing details from the original shirt. Save money by using something you already have.

Save the environment by keeping t-shirts out of the landfill. Save memories by reusing a favorite adult t-shirt for your toddler or child.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

How to Upcycle t-shirt hems



1. I like to draw in my hem allowances very first. Then I know where to line up the hemlines of the pattern and the shirt. Draw the hem allowance on the front, the back, and the sleeves.

2. Cut along the side seam of the shirt through the sleeve.

3. Fold the shirt along the center front. Line up the center front of the pattern with the fold of the shirt. Also, line up the hem line with the hem of the shirt. Pin and cut out.

4. Do the same for the back.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

5. Fold the sleeves in half and line up the hem allowance with the hem of the sleeves. Cut out each sleeve.

6. This pattern came with a pocket piece so I cut out a pocket along the leftover hem. (I drew on the hem allowance and let that hang over the hem.)

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

7. Cut off the neckband and cut it in half.

8. Fold the neckband in half and line up the pattern. (I use the least amount of the back of the neckband as possible because it’s harder to unpick.)

9. After cutting the neckband the right length, unpick the shirt fabric to separate it from the neckband.

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew

10. Construct the pieces as instructed in the pattern skipping the part about hemming the shirt.

11. Once I’m done sewing I like to tack the seam allowances at the hem towards the back. It makes the ends look good and tacks the serging down.

Yay, for quick, simple, easy, and great looking tees for all summer long!

Share any upcycle inspired projects for your children with the hashtag #upcycledkid!

Find the big list of all the upcycling tutorials I’ve created!

How to Upcycle: Kid Basic Tee Hems // DIY Sew
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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You know I have never thought to count out the seam allowances when I am doing hems. But that said I am usually trying to reuse hems on my girls shirts, so for me any extra length is always great in covering their bums!