Upcycle Progress: Patchwork Shirt

My upcycle project is to create a patchwork-style shirt from fabric scraps. My work this week involved getting my hands on some fabric as well as a sewing pattern to make the shirt. I had originally planned to make a shirt with blue and white patches, however I was only able to find fabric scraps in green and white. I think the combination will work out well!

My fabric scraps on top of a sewing pattern from Joann Fabrics

While the goal of this project was not to buy much (if anything) new, I did have to buy a pattern from Joann Fabrics to make the shirt as making one freehand would have been a disaster. I also purchased a couple fabric remnants destined for the garbage while I was at Joann’s (less than $10 total) which will also be plenty of material to make another garment (maybe a pair of shorts?) in the future.

My plan of attack with this project is to first cut the fabric into 3″x3″ squares, likely around 80-100 to cut out all the pieces. I thought about getting a pack of fabric squares designed for quilting, however that would have defeated the purpose of upcycling since it would be using new material for (almost) its intended purpose. Once I have all my fabric squares, I’ll lay them out in a random-ish grid and sew them all together. From there, I’m going to cut out the patterns from the sewn-together squares and sew all the pieces into a shirt. This particular design has around 11 pieces that make the shirt, so I have plenty to keep me busy!

It’s been a while since I’ve used a sewing machine, so I also took this week to binge-watch some tutorials of shirt sewing and quilt making on YouTube. Over the weekend, I am going to toil away at the sewing machine so that I can present the shirt on Monday the 19th.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Dylan Breglio
    February 9, 2024 4:59 pm

    I’m excited to see what your final project ends up looking like! I’m not familiar with sewing, so I was curious about the patterns; where did you find the patterns, what do they look like, and do you have plans on how to optimize how much fabric you’ll need based on how you lay out your patterns? I think you’ve set up an ambitious goal, and simplifying the design could save you some precious time! Again, I’m excited to see how your project turns out!

    • Hi Dylan! Great questions about the patterns. There are tons and tons of resources online that post pdf/printable sewing patterns, but I went the old-fashioned route and got mine from Joann Fabrics. This one in particular came with 2 different shirt designs (short and long sleeve) and 2 different designs for shorts. They come on a giant sheet of tissue paper, and you’re supposed to cut out the pieces from the tissue in the size you want (they give you options). As for the fabric, I really had no idea how much I would need and I’ve come to find I bought probably 3 times as much as I needed, so I’ll have plenty to make other things in the future!

  • Josh,
    I look forward to seeing your upcycle project progress, as I think (as you are well aware), you have an ambitious weekend of sewing ahead of you.
    Are you excited to freshen up your sewing skills? Or are you using the sewing process more as a means to the end of your desired aesthetic?

    • Hi Michael! Yeah, I found last night that I’m actually pretty excited to start sewing! Cutting out the fabric squares was actually a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to using the sewing machine I borrowed from my mom. She assured me that it won’t take me a whole week to make a shirt.


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