Decorating a T-Shirt Tutorial #1

As some of you may know, I’ve got a thing at the moment about decorating my clothes and trying to make them a bit more personalised.  I’ve been sharing some pictures on social media, especially on my FB page and Twitter and more recently Instagram, although I only joined that a few weeks ago (sorry, couldn’t resist sharing the links!  Do follow me if you want!) and I thought you might be interested in seeing what I’ve been up to!

The lovely Liz from saw one of my pictures on Twitter and got in touch too, which lead to something very exciting!  More on that later in my post!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I got a pack of three t-shirts with the express purpose of decorating them.  They were fairly inexpensive, that’s the whole point really, I wanted to do this on a budget.  We are going through difficult times economically but does that have to stop us from being creative?  I don’t think so, I think the very opposite in fact!  Surely it should make us even more creative – bring back that old “Make Do and Mend” spirit that people used to have.  I love reading about how in WWII people would turn all sorts of things into clothes.  I remember reading in a Rosamund Pilcher book when I was quite young how one of the characters turned a laundry bag into a skirt, even though it had the word Linen emblazoned across the front!  I think that really started me thinking about how to make better use of the things I already own, although I’ve never been able to do much about it until now.

I have quite limited sewing skills, and that has always meant that, although I get what I think are good ideas of how to turn two tops that no longer fit me into one amazing top that would fit me, or turn a skirt into something else, I’ve never followed through, I just don’t have the skills.  I’ve got to sort this out!  In fact, I have started trying to improve my sewing skills, and am making my first ever garment, from scratch, in the hopes that if I make myself enough things eventually I’ll be able to see how to adapt the clothes I already have.  Sounds a bit bizarre, I know, I want to “make do and mend” but am buying fabric and making new things, but hopefully it will work out in the end!  Plus, it’s a good excuse to buy pretty fabric!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam
Making myself a new top in pretty fabric!

Anyway, I also have been thinking about what I can do with the skills I already have, things that are fairly simple but effective.  As I said earlier, I got a pack of three t-shirts to see what I could do with them.  The first one was a lovely sky blue and the first thing I thought of was buttons.  I LOVE buttons, seriously love them!  So I thought, well I know how to sew a button on, so why not see what I could come up with!  As you can see from the first picture in this post, I had some lovely wooden buttons, and so I started off with them.  However, that turned out to be a complete disaster!  They are not machine washable!  The person who sold them on Ebay advertised them as suitable for sewing, so I took that to mean that they would be machine washable, but apparently the seller had never tried to wash them so didn’t know that all the colours would come off in the machine!

So, I was a bit disheartened, but by this point I’d promised that I would do a tutorial for decorating t-shirts, so I had to carry on.  I got some lovely buttons, even though they were plastic and tried again.  It’s amazing what you can get on Ebay, for very good prices, these buttons were only a couple of quid and I only used a fraction of them, so I have tons more to use on other projects!


I am really happy with the result, I think my t-shirt looks amazing and I love wearing it!


What do you think?  Like it?  As you can see, I was able to save some of the wooden buttons and add the plastic ones.  You don’t have to use as many as me, a few buttons on one shoulder would also look very effective, or perhaps around the neckline.

If you want to see how to do your own t-shirt decorating with buttons, do check out this tutorial I wrote for – as I said, it’s simple to do but still nice to have some instructions!  Really delighted that wanted to feature me, really excited about that!  They love to find easy projects that people can do in a day or so and especially if they are able to do them with their kids.  I think this project would be ideal for doing with the kids, they’d have great fun looking through your button box and choosing the buttons they want to use!  And you don’t have to buy buttons like me, you could recycle buttons from clothes your kids have grown out of or items you no longer wear.  I try to never throw an item of clothing away without thinking about if I can use it for something else, taking off the buttons or zips or anything else I might be able to use for some other project.  If we all do that, then we’d be sending a lot less to landfill (of course, if you can, sending items to charity is even better than putting it in the bin), and having a bit of our own “Make Do and Mend” going on – which is known as upcycling these days!

Have you ever made your own clothing?  Adapted items of clothing to make something else?  I’d love to hear from you!  And do let me know what you think about Make Do and Mend, and upcycling and my button t-shirt tutorial too!


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