collared onesie to raglan recon

Birdie is at the age where he is growing longer much faster than wider. His onesies still fit his shoulders and chest quite well, providing I don't do up the snap; he looks like a circus strong man if I do.

To prolong onsie life, the simplest thing to do is to cut off the bottom and hem. Viola, tee shirt.

I decided to take an extra step with this particular onesie and add long sleeves. With the wind whipping across the water and the more or less continuous rain, there's not much use for short sleeves right now. To make life a bit easier, I decided to use a raglan tee pattern (from Ottobre 6/2009) and some fabric from a previously ravaged polo shirt.

I had everything all set up to go and then did a double take of my onesie. I'd completely forgotten that there was an entire collar on it that would have to be dealt with somehow if I was to do a raglan shirt. This collar, taking it apart and refinishing the edges, could put an extra hour on my quick 20 minute project. No good. So, I went off to make a cup of tea (it's what I do when I need to think) and decided that I would just pretend like I meant for that collar to be there all along.

Here is what I did:

The bottom of the onesie was cut off as usual (later I would raise the bottom hem slightly to take off the little nookie thing under the snaps) and the sides cut up the seam. The onesie was then flipped open, separating the front and back in order to cut the raglan pattern from each.

The top edge of the front pattern was placed directly against the collar. I cut almost up to the top, but turned out and around the collar, leaving a seam allowance just wide enough for me to stitch the sleeves to, without getting my needle caught in the seam allowance of the collar (it would be just too much stuff for my needle to get through.)

The back was cut in the same fashion. You can see how wonky the cut is on the original onesie by the stripes in the back. Never feel bad about your sewing mistakes because ready to wear is usually doubly bad, and they would never dream of apologizing.

Here was the fun bit. Sewing the sleeve to the front, back and collar all at once was a bit tricky. I lost some definition in the sharp edge of the top back corner of the sleeve piece, giving the shoulders a rounder look. The whole thing is actually hidden under the collar, though, so when the boy wears the shirt, no one is the wiser (these things always work out to the best when I pretend that I meant it to be that way in the first place).

The shoulder part of the raglan sleeve was slightly wider than the collar space, but seeing at this is knit, I just let my feed dogs pull in the wider sleeve while I stretched out the collar space and it fit in perfectly.

I believe that leaving the collar on actually saved me a bit of time, not having to put in a separate ribbed collar. It just gets better!

From there it was stitch up the side seams and the bottom hem. I cut the sleeves with the bottom edge against the tee's hem, so they were already finished. I did, however, put in a couple of stitches at the sleeve's hem to pin back the seam allowance, giving it a smoother finish than if I just let the seam allowance dangle out the end against Birdie's wrist.

In general, I was feeling fairly happy about the whole recon, until I finished steaming the last seam and realized I really didn't like the original onesie to begin with, and I'm fairly certain adding stripey sleeves just added to the clownly-ness of it all. I thought, 'I can't make my son wear this!'

But I did anyway, just to see how it fit. Birdie threw on his orange boots

(omg, the orange boots! Our neighbors gave them to us because they didn't fit their little boy. Ha! More like they didn't want them to fit their kid. I couldn't think fast enough to come up with a reasonable excuse not to accept them. My feeble, 'But they're two sizes too big,' was quickly poo-poo'd - 'He'll grow, of course! - and I was forced to take them home with us. Birdie has been wearing them, inside and out, since then. He loves them. He loves them more than his blue boots and that has been a rather intense relationship. Not only can put them on himself (remember, two sizes too big) but whenever he steps out, all the passerbys like to stop to tell him how cute he is and make quacking sounds at him. Birdie, of course, adores ducks. Plus, who wouldn't enjoy quacking strangers? I can't help but feel this will one day haunt him.)

and we went outside for a test run.

Maybe it's how dark and grey it is outside, but with the colours slightly muted in the light but still contrasting strongly against the dark, murky waters of our flooded yard, I started to like the shirt a little bit. That small bit of like is enough for now.

If the sun doesn't come out soon, I may even begin to like the boots too.


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  1. He's adorable!! *quack, quack* The shirt is pretty awesome, too. I am constantly amazed at the bad sewing I find in RTW. That back was totally cut off grain! It makes me feel better about the immense amount of cash I spend on fabric.

  2. That is really cute. And that puts a whole new spin on the box of clothes I was taking a break from going through.

  3. I'm swooning over the cuteness of it. I love what you do with recons!

  4. I can't believe you dare have doubts about this shirt ! it's really cute ! and the orange boots... that's all the charm about plastic boots !
    Enjoy your little clown :-)
    I hope so much being able -someday- to sew such cute refashionings !

  5. That is unbelieveably cute! I have tried trimming onesies into t-shirts but I can't get the hem quite right since I don't have a serger, and am not confident sewing jersey. Yours looks really nice.

  6. This is such a cool shirt for little boys! LOVE the two different stripes!

    I blogged your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  7. LOVE the shirt!! and those boot - i think my ladybug would love them just as much :)
    kids seem to love the strangest combos... my oldest loves to wear plaid (of one color scheme) with flowers or polka-dots (of another scheme) :) and if there is one color the same: it 'matches' :D

  8. oh that's cute.

    I actually like the boots! hehe.

  9. This whole ensemble is BEYOND adorable! I love every single thing you do and will be making a girl version for my 4 year old daughter! Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. And PS I LOVE those boots!