Wednesday, September 26, 2012

T-shirt Cardigan - Totally worth the math!

I saw the cutest thing on Pinterest the other day.  It was a t-shirt that had been re-fashioned into a sweater.  Of course, I wanted one!  I mean, tshirt + crochet = awesomeness! 

It was a cute idea, but I wanted to do my own version.  I had a 3/4 length sleeve t-shirt that was just begging to get re-made into something cool!  

If you'd like to make one too, here's what you're going to need:

T-shirt Cardigan (or tCardi as it is known in my Nickelodeon-watching house...)
T-shirt (this is an awesome recycle/upcycle project! Use what you've got!)
Good Scissors (the fabric ones you won't let your kids play with)
Sock yarn (You'll need one skein of a sock yarn that is washing machine-compatible with your shirt... So don't use a beautiful wool/cashmere blend that has to be hand washed, unless you only hand wash your t-shirts.  I used a wool acrylic blend that I can machine wash and dry.)
Size D crochet hook
Buttons that make you happy (It made me happy to use 5 cheapies, but you could get as vintage and fancy as you like... Once again, take your washing preferences into consideration before choosing un-washable buttons...)
A knit picker 
Small tapestry needle for weaving in ends and sewing on buttons

Pardon the wrinkles in the shirt!  It didn't want to cooperate when I was trying to shoot it's picture. Find the center of your shirt, and slice it open!  Make it as straight and perfect as possible.  

Now you need a swatch so that you can get your gauge for your Cardi button bands.  To make swatching more fun, you can make it big enough to be a pocket!

Cardi Swatch/Pocket
ch 33
R1: dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in each ch across, ch 3, turn (31 st)
R2-20: skip first st, dc in each st across, ch 3, turn (31 st)
R21: 2 dc in first st, skip 2 st, sl st in next st, *skip 2 st, 5 dc in next st, skip 2 st, sl st in next st* 4 times, skip 2 st, 3 dc in last st (31 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends (or save them for sewing the pocket on later...)

Now you can measure your pocket (swatch!) to find your stitch gauge.  Measure across the center to get the most accurate count.   My gauge was 6 stitches per inch.  When you get your number, write it down.

Now you're going to use that number to figure out how many stitches you need for the front of your sweater!  The cut edges down the center of my t-shirt were 19 inches long.  I multiplied that number by my stitch gauge number and got 114 stitches.  I used a shell-stitch edging that I know is a 6 stitch repeat plus an extra stitch so I added an extra stitch to make it 115 total stitches.

You're going to have to use your own gauge info to get your magic front edging number.
I crocheted ________ stitches per inch.
The cut edge of my shirt is __________ inches long.

Stitches per inch x Shirt edge length = ___________ stitches you're going to need so that your shirt edge doesn't pull in weird or ruffle!

If you want to add an edging, adjust the stitches so that your stitch pattern will come out even.  For a shell edging you will want to divide your Stitches-You-Need-Along-The-Edge number by a repeat of 6 stitches and adjust it up or down (including the plus 1 --and only one-- extra stitch) so that your pattern comes out even.

Cardi Button Bands (Front Edgings)
Make left side plain, make right side with buttonhole row
R1: Using the knitpicker, crochet your custom number of stitches onto the front edge of your shirt.
R2: ch 3, skip the first st, dc in each knit-picked stitch, ch 1, turn
R3: skip the first st, sc in each st across, ch 3, turn
R4: skip the first st, dc in each st across, ch 3, turn
R5: (optional shell edge) 2 st in first st, *skip 2 st, sl st in next st, skip 2 st, 5 dc in next st* to last 6 st, skip 2 st, sl st in next st, skip 2 st, 3 dc in last st.
Fasten off.

For the Buttonhole Row: 
Women's clothing buttons on the left side, so keep this in mind when you are putting the front edgings onto your Cardi.  

Now that you know how many stitches you need along the front edges, you're going to have to do just a little bit more math, if you want your buttonholes to be even... Which you totally do...

My buttons were 3/8" so I needed a 3 stitch gap to make my buttonholes.  (3 stitch = 1/2" - crochet is stretchy, and this way the buttons will still stay in place even if the buttonholes get a little stretched out.)

3 stitches x 5 buttons = 15 stitches...

I wanted my first and last buttons to be 1" from the top and bottom edges of my cardi, so that was 6 stitches from each edge...

15 buttonhole stitches + 12 top/bottom edge stitches = 27 stitches...

I used 5 buttons, so that gives me 4 (FOUR!!!) spaces between buttonholes...

115 - 27 stitches = 88 stitches divided by 4 (FOUR!) spaces = 22 stitches!

So here's what my buttonhole row looked like:

R3: skip first st, 5 sc, *ch 3, skip next 3 st, 22 sc* 4 times, ch 3, skip next 3 st, 6 sc, ch 3, turn (115 st)
R4: skip first st, 5 dc, *3 dc in ch space, 22 dc* 4 times, 3 dc in ch space, 6 dc, ch 3 turn (115 st)

Supplies!  Notice my awesome new PINK knit picker!
Use the knit picker to crochet the stitches onto the cut edge of your tshirt. Make sure that the loops are on the front of the shirt, and that the 'dashed line' is on the inside edge!  You don't want the t-shirt edge to show when you're done...

Get the knit picker ready...

Push it through the fabric.  It goes through the t-shirt material really easily!

Put your yarn though the hooked end, and make sure that the latch is closed...

Then, gently pull it through.  Sock yarn works really well with this technique!

This is what your knit-picked edge should look like...

Use the button holes as a guide for where to sew your buttons on!   Sew on the pocket!  I used the knit picker, but you could just use a tapestry needle.  I put my pocket on the left side, since I'm left-handed, but you could put yours on the right.  Or make two and put them on both sides!

Sorry about the weird picture. I forgot to take one earlier, and we were running out of light...  This is the best one we got. LOL!!!!

My awesome T-shirt Cardigan!  I loved it when it was a t-shirt, and I love it even more as a sweater.  I wore it all day, and it was a nice light-weight option to go over the top of my tank-top.
The math looks really complicated, but I promise that it isn't.  Give it a try!  If the shell-edging bogs you down too much, you don't have to use it.  It will look awesome without it.   Just leave R5 off of the button bands.  Done! Easy!



  1. Woot! This is awesome! I have seen something similar done with a sweatshirt before but have to say the T-shirt looks way better since they are not boxy shaped like a sweatshirt! And your crocheted embellishments are awesome. I agree that the result was definitely worth any math! I may have to put this one on my list of larger projects I want to do when I finish Yarndango-ing! Oh yeah, and bonus for upcycling and repurposing! Hi! :)

  2. Algebraic! And awesome! It turned out really cute.

  3. Beea-u-tee-ful!! lol, in there I said "Tee" Short for Tee Shirt. LOL I am corny. Looks great.

  4. I have a 3/4 T in my closet waiting for this! Thank you!

  5. I love making the gauge swatch to be the pocket!! Brilliant! and thrifty too!
    This is super cute, and I'll have to file it away for someday when I have time for making stuff for myself...... although, I may use the whole button band part as a tutorial for my friend who's making a cardigan for her daughter and will need help with the edging at the end.

  6. Yay! I'll never have to get rid of another tshirt in my life just when they're all broken in and soft and wooby-esque. You're the upcycling queen!


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