Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upcycled T-Shirts and the Golden Mean

I recently made myself a new skirt from two thrift store t-shirts. I've always loved recycling textiles into new items and designing my own clothes; although I am completely self-taught and the learning curve has been quite steep. Let's just say that some of my creations have been, um, different. I love the shape of a mermaid skirt, as I'm a curvy kind of gal; I've also experimented a few time with gores, for the shape and the dramatic look. For this skirt, I had in mind using the Golden mean, as many famous artists, such as Da Vinci and Dali seemed to worship it. To oversimplify, the Golden Mean uses ratios in measurement, where smaller sections of a composition are roughly 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the greater section. I say roughly, because although I understand math concepts fairly well, anytime I am involved in actual measuring, it's a crap shoot. Also, when constructing an actual garment, I wanted the overall look to work, but slight modifications to the ratios are necessary to make it fit. The idea of the Golden Mean is to have a relationship between the parts of the garment to the whole, and create a harmonious and interesting visual effect. So...... with that noble idea in mind, I took my measurements, and decided on a length. The ratios came in mainly in the color blocks and the gores.

As with any good recipe; when designing a garment, one should start with all the pieces and their measurements. Don't forget the seam allowances. 

Next, I began cutting the pieces out of the t-shirts. I found extra large mens' shirts with interesting designs and the colors I wanted at the thrift store for about $3 each. I used two shirts for this design.

Cutting out the gores in two matching pieces, front and back.....

Cutting out the gore inserts from second t-shirt. You can barely see my homemade cutting mat behind it, made from the side of a cardboard box. I can't really afford the professional ones, and I also didn't like the warning that they're made from cancer causing substances, but I can't use a rotary cutter on the cardboard, so I'm still  looking for a better solution to that issue.

Adding the contrasting side panels, gores figured in along the seams....

Since t-shirt material really doesn't unravel, I didn't bother with a hem; I was just really careful about the bottom edges lining up and I used the bottom edges of the shirts for the bottom of the skirt. The waistband, which I forgot to photograph, was a simple folded band with a tie on the front to allow for size adjustment; I suppose elastic could be inserted, but I felt comfortable with the fit as it was. 

The finished skirt!


  1. Wow, Dyhana, that is so much more sophisticated than the t-shirt skirt I made! And I was (and still am) so proud of coming up with the idea, but what you did is... It is wow! Yr blog post is also synchronistic: my blog how-to on my tshirt pattern has been sitting forever waiting for me to finish it, and I was thinking today and the past few days that I shld finally finish that. Then, voila, your blog appears! We must be astral traveling in our sleep and discussing patterns!

  2. Thanks, Francesca,what a nice thought, to be astrally comparing patterns. :) Can't wait to see your post, I always enjoy your blog posts so much.