Hot! The “Out of Chaos” Shorts

Pattern: Simplicity 9834 (roughly)

Fabric: 5 XL men’s T’s, used $4 and thread $2

Time to Complete: about 9hrs

Total Cost: $6

Wear at All?: yes-when it gets warmer

Where do I start? I went to the fabric store full of ideas and 3 or 4 patterns in my bag. An hour or so later I left empty handed. I decided to go to the thrift store to see if there was something there I could refashion. Nothing. Do I drive 45 minutes away to the textile outlet? I started thinking about the sleeves on the one of the Burberry trench coats for Spring 2012 and thought it might be fun to do something similar as an experiment. It’s hard to see the detail well in this picture but if you look closely you can see that they knit leather to create the detail in the sleeves. Pretty cool huh?

I couldn’t settle for just making a quick top out of fabric I hated and calling it a day. If I was going to make something I may never wear again then at the very least it should be something interesting that challenges me creatively.

I bought 5 XL men’s t-shirts and one very unattractive green dress (just in case my experiment failed) and headed home. I decided to make some shorts. I know SGC, Topshop, and Alexander Wang have all come out with their own versions over the years but none of them made them from used t-shirts! I cut 4 of the t-shirts into thin continuous strips, sewed the ends together, and rolled it all up into a giant ball. The 5th t-shirt became my pattern and lining. I used this pattern because the front and back are one piece so I would only have to knit 2 pieces instead of 4. Once I got the fit right with the lining I took the seams out and used one side to help me get the shape right as I knit. I wrote everything down as I went so when it was time to work on the other leg I just reversed everything so I wouldn’t end up with two of the same side and sewed them together when I was done.

I had several ideas for pockets and adding zippers but they made the shorts look too busy so I kept them simple. I folded the lining over the waist to create a band and braided some of the remaining t-shirt yarn to make a drawstring. Before I sewed the band down I made 2 buttonhole openings for the drawstring. After I stitched the leg openings they got all stretched out so I took another strip of t-shirt yarn and used a crochet hook to weave into the bottom then pulled them in and secured the ends.The bits of color you see are from the t-shirts. I chose shirts that had writing on them just to see how it would look. I think it might be cool to make a fitted dress like this I just don’t know if I’ll ever have time.

The title for the shorts is a taken form a song called “Beautiful Things” that really helped me get through the week. I thought it was appropriate because the strips of T left little green pills everywhere. Even up my nose a couple of times as I was knitting! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!



Gina Clark is a girl from Texas living in the Midwest. She has been sewing most of her life but swears every few months that she is giving it up for good.


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  1. How unique! Great idea!

  2. What fun. I love the photographs.

  3. KICK ASS PHOTOS!!!! And A+++ for the effort of making your own yarn and knitting up those shorts!

  4. Oh man, I can’t believe the magic you worked with those t-shirts! This is really inspiring!

  5. Those shorts are AWESOME!!! I love that you knit t-shirt strips together – positively brilliant!

  6. Hot pants! Great pictures. My poor pasty legs won’t see the light of day for awhile, yours however look great.

  7. ridiculously awesome. and i love that you’re determined to sew something you’ll love rather than just sew something!

  8. I love your approach to this project, and very cool little shorts…

    And your photography is so lovely. :)

  9. Wow wee! What a fabulous pair of shorts! I can’t believe how you made them out of old t-shirts and knitting needles. That’s so inspiring…I wish I knew how to knit!

  10. Your styling is so frigging amazing! And don’t even get me started on how amazing those shorts are, jeeze! You seriously knocked this challenge outta the park, lady!

  11. Absolutely brilliant Gina, LOVE the outcome and the concept, that top photo looks like a Vogue shot. So damn impressive like that Burberry collection YUMBO!

  12. Holy. Hell. These are the most innovative things I’ve seen in forever. WOW these are cool, I never ever would have thought to do this like this, well flipping done, madam, well done. And the fit is awesome. Too cool.

  13. What a great idea! I bet they are really comfy too!

  14. Love your approach to this challenge! I’m in awe of your modeling and styling. You look straight from the pages of a magazine.

  15. OK, so I’m on the bandwagon of mouth-dropping praise, here. This is even my second attempt at posting…somehow the first was eaten. The photo of you hanging from the tree wearing blue footless socks is effing magical. Your like a sexy, handmade superhero.

    High five, Gina! Hoping if we touch hands, I’ll absorb some of your powers ;-)

  16. That is seriously, seriously amazing! I can’t believe you managed to do this in less than, I don’t know, a YEAR! What a great concept. I would love to see a fitted dress out of this technique.

  17. These are so unexpected – totally clever