One of my favorite things to do with old graphic tees or shirts with fun patterns I’m through with is turn them into baby clothes! Specifically, SUPER quick and easy rompers! The style (long or short pants and sleeves) depends on the size of your shirt and the size of your child! An extra small baby can have pretty much any style of romper from any adult shirt, and an extra large shirt can make a romper for pretty much any size of kid! All you really need is a shirt and a sewing machine!
Lay your shirt out flat, inside out. Make sure the hem and seams are nice and lined up.
There are two ways to determine the shape/size of your romper - use a pre-existing romper that you know fits your child, or an assembly of baby clothes (in the right size) to give you a rough idea of what the right romper shape would be!
I already have a romper that I know fits my babe well, so I'm going to use that as my guide for this romper! Line up the necklines, and this will give you an idea of how long the legs of your romper can be, based on how big your shirt is!
Keep in mind that your child's whole body needs to be able to fit through the neck hole when it's finished, since we won’t be making a snap crotch or anything fancy like that, it will be pulled on from the bottom! On the left is what lining up the collars exactly would look like, but as my romper has a pretty small neck hole, I left a little extra room to make sure the end result will be big enough! Notice on the right, I just slid the romper up slightly above the t-shirt collar, so when we trace our outline, the neckline will end up the size we want it! If you want to make sure it will pull on, measure your child right around the middle and double check that your neck hole is a similar size. Remember that t shirt fabric stretches a little, so it has some extra give.
Now that we have our necklines lined up, you can see where your legs line up on your t-shirt. Since I'm using a pretty small shirt, and not making a tiny, newborn outfit, my length options are limited to a shorts-length romper. I like using the shirt's original hem when ever possible, just because it's easier! but if your shirt ends up longer than you'd like your legs to be, you can either hem the legs to the length you'd like them, or leave the leg holes unhemmed.
Using a light colored pen, pencil, marker, what have you...mark the place where your neckline meets the t shirt neckline, and where the back of your neckline will be! From here, we're going to trace the outline of your romper! Basically, we're going to make a t shirt shape with legs. I want this romper to fit a little loose and comfy, so we don't need to worry too much about having a super tailored shape.
If the garment you're using as a guide has a strangely shaped sleeve, like mine does, you might have to fudge the outline a little bit. Pay attention to the size of the armpit hole of your guide garment, and make your arm hole that size at least. This will ensure that the hole is big enough!
Follow the basic outline of your clothing, down to the hem or wherever you want your legs to end.
I've found that the finished product usually fits better if I leave a little extra room in the crotch area. It provides a little wiggle room, and a comfier fit.
I noticed while I was tracing that the romper I was using as a guide had a loose fit, so tracing it loosely would make my new romper a little too loose! No shame in editing a couple of times until you get it right! (haha...you'll notice I had to make several different lines before I got things symmetrical and the right sizes/lengths!)
When you've finished tracing the whole outline, and making sure things are as symmetrical as you'd like them, begin pinning the two layers of your tee together, following the (correct...ha) lines you've traced/drawn.
It will be easier to remove the pins as you're sewing (and to keep straight which lines you should be following) if you place the pins perpendicular to the line you need to follow, straddling the line.
Here's the finished outline with all the pins in the right spots, and now it's time to sew! I made the color-coded guide on the right, if you're a more visual person, like I am! The pink line is where you're going to sew, and you'll need to keep the blue spots open, for the arm, neck, and leg holes.
Ta-da! (p.s. it doesn't matter at all what color of thread you use, because none of your seams will be exposed. My machine happened to be loaded with black, and I wasn't about to take the time to change it! ha!)
Special thanks to Hazel for taking a break in her cracker-eating to sit riiiiight in the middle of my picture-taking zone....she sure looks cute while being inconvenient, though ;)
Make sure when you're sewing your seams, to back stitch on each end so your romper doesn't fall apart! This is what my sleeve seams look like, with back stitching at the places I've traced for the sleeves to end. When you cut the t shirt fabric to make the arm opening, it will naturally roll slightly and won't fray. However, if you would like a cleaner look, you can hem any raw edges (pant hem, sleeve holes, and/or neckline) once you've cut them out. If this is your plan, I would advise adding an extra 1/2 inch or so when you trace your clothes to the sleeve and pant length, to compensate.
Okay, now time to cut out your garment! Basically, all you have to do is follow the outline of your seams! When you get to the sleeves, don't worry if the length of your sleeves go past the original seams on your t shirt. As you'll see below, the seams that are showing should look nice and smooth and won't detract from the romper!
Here's the easiest way to ensure your neckline is nice and symmetrical - stop when you get to the edge of your neckline. On mine, I'm keeping the original v-neck finishing of my t shirt. For other shirts (like most crew necks), you'll probably have to cut the front of your collar as well as the back. Just follow the same steps I'm showing here for the back of mine. Anyways, pause at the edge of the neckline, and cut a smooth line from the edge of the neckline to the mark you made previously for the center of your collar. Follow the pink line!
Now, fold your garment over so your seams/edges line up. Now just follow the shape you've already cut on the first half of your neckline, and you'll end up with a smooth, symmetrical collar.
Here's what my collar looks like!
Here's what your romper should look like, give or take. Once you flip it right side out and admire your handiwork, you can try it on your little one at this point and see if you've got the fit right. If not, you can make adjustments (not to make the romper larger...if you think that is an issue, try it on your babe, inside out, before you trim the seams. Then if you need to make it larger, you can pick the too-small seams and sew along a different line. Hopefully though, you won't have to do much altering!
Alrighty, I hope you have fun making all kinds of quick, adorable rompers for the children in your life! Let me know if you have any questions or comments below!
(P.S. Here's a look at a long pants version I made from a unisex adult small tee, when my babe wore 0-3 month clothes.)
Hey there! My name is Kirstie. I'm here to jot down what it's like for us to make our way in the world - having fun on a budget, refashioning and DIY-ing our hearts out, pursuing business ventures, and raising a sweet babe in this crazy world. Join me for a slightly haphazard journaling of my little family and our pursuits and adventures!