Or when your daughter gets a big hole in her jeans - the unfashionable, not-distressed-but-just-plain-ugly kind of hole?
My heart breaks, too.
But I came up with a fun way to upcycle these items into one wearable, unique garment, and the following tutorial is for those of you who would like to try it for yourselves!
1. Prepare the jeans. Cut the legs off of the jeans, and cut an even line across from hip to hip. Try to lay the waistline the way it would naturally fall before you cut, with the front a bit lower than the back.
The spot at the bottom of the center seams in front and back will probably look a bit warpy, due to the way the legs of jeans are cut, but don't worry, it will work out later.
Have your daughter try on the top of the jeans, and measure from the bottom cut edge to where you want the skirt to fall. Add 1" to this measurement for seam & hem allowances. This will be your cutting measurement for the next step. (I came up with 15" for this measurement for my 11 yr. old)
2. Prepare the tees. Pick out a few tees with colors that work together. Depending on the size skirt you are making, you may be able to make one skirt from just two or three good size tees. (By using about 7 tees, I was able to make 3 different skirts at once.)
Cut off the bottom band from the shirt, and then cut strips 4" wide going up the shirt until you reach an unusable portion. Using a rotary cutter and mat is the cleanest, easiest way to do this.
If you want to cut out stains or holes, you can strategically cut your strips around these unwanted places. I also made use of the usable back portion of tees that had button down collars or emblems in the front, by cutting the backs into additional strips.
Take the newly cut strips, and cut them into the predetermined length you found in Step 1 (in my case, for this example, 15" strips). If the shirt had side seams, cut around them.
Arrange the strips in the order you think you'd like them to be sewn together around the skirt, rearranging as necessary till you like the order they're in.
3. Start sewing. Sew the strips together using one of two techniques:
a. wrong sides together, use the rolled hem function on a serger, stretching as much as you can as you go, to create a lettuce edge as you attach the two strips together. (this may take a practice swatch to get the hang of - use some of your leftover tee scraps to get it worked out before you start.)
b. right sides together, serging or using a regular sewing machine with a stretch stitch to attach the two strips together - this will yield a different look, with more clean seams that will be hidden inside the garment, if that's what you prefer
When you have used up all of your strips sewing them together, you'll have one big rectangle of vertical strips sewn together at their sides. Finish it off by hemming it as desired (rolled hem w/ lettuce edge, serge & stitch, or a zig-zag w/ standard sewing machine), and then attaching the edges of the end strips to each other to create a tube out of the rectangle.
(This example was an experiment, with seams facing outward, sewn using a rolled hem on a serger but without lettuce edge stretching.)
4. Attach the skirt to the jeans. Turn the skirt tube inside-out, to be able to put it right side against the right side of the jeans. Place the raw edges of the skirt's top edge and the jeans bottom edge against each other, and pin all the way around.
I needed to pleat the skirt a bit where each group of two skirt strips met, all the way around, to ease the fullness of the skirt to the jeans - this actually is cute, and adds a bit of flare to the skirt portion when it's finished.
Sew with a straight stitch on a regular sewing machine, giving a 1/2" seam allowance. Serge (or overedge) to finish the seam. Turn the whole thing right side out, and topstitch the skirt down with the seam turned up toward the jeans.
(I have assumed that those trying this tutorial have a basic understanding of sewing directions. If you need further help, feel free to contact me!)
UPDATE: I'm so excited to have Craft Gossip include this tutorial on their site!