Baby Bibs from Repurposed Button-Up Shirts

I made quick and easy baby bibs with fabric from repurposed button-up shirts and snaps from outgrown, stained baby bodysuits.

Baby bib from upcycled shirts.

I just had my third baby in November. So, he just started eating solids a little over a month ago. Now, being my third, I have some tired bibs leftover from my older two. But the hook-and-loop closures are worn and don’t stick very well, and they’re very vinyl-plastic-y feeling, which I don’t like.

In my fabric stash I have a few button-up shirts from my husband that he no longer can wear because of holes in the elbows. Usually, I would be all about mending, but we’re not at the point where a mended elbow is considered a professional look in the workplace. And, yes, those things do matter. Alas, I did the best I could and stashed the shirts in my fabric bins until the perfect project came along. Enter my need for several bibs for a new human sloppily learning to eat.

The only new thing I used was thread. There’s no interfacing in these bibs! The snap closures came from outgrown baby bodysuits that were stained just enough to bypass the donation bin and went straight to the rag bin (after I snipped off the snaps, of course).

First, I took one of the old bibs I had and made a pattern. I simply folded the bib in half and traced it on some paper, marking the side where the fold goes. I added a ¼” seam allowance line freehand. Hey, these are bibs, not something that needs to fit just right!

Old bib.
New bib pattern.

Next, I cut up the shirts to have a decent amount of fabric. Each bib needs two of the pattern piece cut out of fabric. With some creative folding, I was able to get two bibs out of one shirt: one out of the back and one out of both sleeves.

The back and two sleeves of a shirt cut into flat pieces.

Then, I pinned the two sides together. Here’s the great thing about using woven plaid shirts: I didn’t have to worry so much about wrong and right sides of the fabric. Obviously, if you’re using fabric that has a wrong and right side, pin the right sides together. I stitched around the perimeter of the bib, leaving a space at the bottom for it to be turned right side out.

Before flipping the bib out, I made some clips on the seam allowance around the curves. This helps with getting the seam to lay flat.

After flipping the bib, I gave it a quick press under the iron and then topstitched around the perimeter.

Nothing fancy. Just topstitching in all-purpose thread.

Next up, I trimmed my upcycled snaps. I left just enough fabric on each side so that there would be room to stitch them down. I stitched each snap piece three times on either side of the snap, going back and forth to create a sturdy hold. Eyeballing where the snaps went on the bib ends worked fine. Again, these bibs are going to get messy; there’s no need to be fussy about the construction!

Snaps saved from a baby bodysuit.

A NOTE ABOUT CLOSURES: THESE BIBS, AND ANY BIBS, GO AROUND A BABY’S NECK. EXERCISE CAUTION! USE A BREAKAWAY CLOSURE. WATCH YOUR BABY WHEN THEY’RE WEARING THE BIB. MAKE SURE THEY DON’T GET THE BIB SNAGGED ON ANYTHING AND CAN’T GET FREE. KEEP YOUR BABIES SAFE! SAFETY FIRST, CLEANLINESS SECOND. Goodness, I don’t want any babies to get hurt!

It’s not pretty or precious, but it works!

Okay, so the stitching on the snaps isn’t pretty. Alright, so bibs made out of old business casual shirts aren’t necessarily cute. But, that’s the beauty of having a third baby! I value function over form! Most of these bibs (I made seven total) are 100% cotton. So, they wash up like a dream! They’re soft, pliable, and so far, have caught the slop.

When I put it on my baby, it looks like he’s about to head to office. Ha!

How to Make an Iron-On Transfer Using an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

A quick, easy (and cheap!) way to create an iron-on transfer is to use an image printed on a toner printer or copier. Learn how I did it with no special supplies.

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Peeling off the paper to reveal the image.

Back in May, my quilt guild challenged its members to sew name tags to wear to meetings. I was all on board since I appreciate the members who wear name tags because we only meet once a month and I’ve only been attending for about a year and a half now. (I still feel like I don’t know everyone!)

I didn’t know exactly how to put my name to fabric. My handwriting isn’t fancy and embroidery would require extra needlework I didn’t have time for. Alas, buried in the depths of my memory was a 5th grade project my mom helped me with, where we ironed a photocopied image onto a piece of fabric. While I can’t remember the specific requirements of the project, we had to create something about a book we just read (and, no, I can’t remember what book it was). I decided to embroider the image used at the beginning of each chapter onto fabric and then (with a lot of my mom’s help) make it into a pillow. I don’t even know why, but the technique for creating an iron transfer has stuck with me.

Here’s what we did: we simply photocopied the image from the book. We enlarged it and darkened it, too. The more toner the better. Then, my mom ironed the image onto fabric. Voilà! I then had an outline to follow as I embroidered. I’m pretty sure this pillow no longer exists, so while my classmates and teacher seemed impressed, I question my 5th grade handiwork.

It was with that knowledge, that I started on my name tag. I first pulled up Microsoft PowerPoint, because it seems like the most “designy” program in the Microsoft Office suite. I wrote out my name (and my nickname—I wasn’t sure what I’d want fellow quilters to call me). Then, I searched the “Help” section for mirroring text. Instructions for that quickly popped up and I followed them. It’s here I’ll note that you have to mirror the image if it matters, as it does with text. Because you ultimately flip the printout over and iron it to the fabric. I made a couple of sizes to see which I liked best and then printed the sheet using the darkest setting I could. Remember, more toner creates a darker transfer.

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I mirrored the text (image) and played with the size.

I cut out several pieces of the text and practiced ironing it to 100% cotton muslin. I put my iron on high heat and I pressed really hard. I suggest practicing. And, depending on what you plan on doing with your transfer, you may not need it to be perfect. My plan was to leave the transfer as-is, so I wanted it relatively dark. If I was embroidering it, I wouldn’t have needed it as dark, just dark enough to see where to put my needle and thread.

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Post ironing. The regular ol’ printer paper (no need to buy anything fancy!) curls with the heat.

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Carefully peeling off the paper. As you can see, even though it’s dark, it still has a nice distressed look, which I like.

After transferring my name, I stitched it into a name tag, and put a pin back on it.

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The finished name tag.

Here’s the kicker. I don’t love it! The thing I like most about this name tag is the lettering. I’m not crazy about the other fabrics or the size of the whole thing. In fact, I don’t like it so much that I’ve never worn it to a quilt guild meeting! But you know what? That’s how making goes. You’ve gotta make a whole lot of “meh” to get to some good stuff. And, that’s alright with me, because I always enjoy the process.

In a nutshell: How to Make an Iron-On Transfer with an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

1. Make sure the printer or copier you’re using uses toner. I’ve never tried this with an inkjet printer and I don’t know what a space-age copier uses these days. As far as paper goes, I just used what is in my printer, that is, nothing fancy. Ditto with the copier we used in the 5th grade. Whatever was loaded in there, we used.

2. Select your image and mirror it. If you’re printing from a computer, see if the program you created the image in allows for this. (Search the “Help” menu or Google it.) If you’re using a copier, see if there’s a setting that allows you to mirror.

3. Print the image, cut it out, and select your fabric (I’m thinking 100% cotton probably works best). Turn your iron to a high heat (another reason 100% cotton works—synthetics may melt!).

4. Press really hard and iron the entire image. Play around with what gives you the best results for your purpose. Embroidery outlines may not need to be very dark, but if you’re not doing anything else to the image, you may want it darker.

Now, don’t ask me how this transfer holds up to washing, because I’ve never washed one! But, if you know, by all means, drop a comment below and let us know.

Completed Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Completed pouches from upcyled clothing.

The pouches I had planned to make in April are finally finished! I’m happy with how they turned out and I’m excited that the only new material and notions I used was a bit of batting, some interfacing, and zippers. All of the fabric came from 2 thrifted men’s shirt, a thrifted dress, and a shirt I’ve had in my closet for over a decade (that I never really wore).

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Chambray shirt, silk dress, pinpoint oxford shirt, cotton wrap shirt.

I’ve been visiting the thrift store often this year, and when I see the amount of clothing, I can help but to wonder, what if all the clothing and fabric I need already exists? As in, I don’t need to buy new clothing and I don’t need to buy new fabric for my sewing and quilting projects. There are a few things that don’t mesh with this idea. It’s hard finding the exact piece of clothing you’re looking for in your size (and in good condition!). Also, if using clothing for sewing, the fiber may not be what you want. I purposely stuck to natural fibers. I didn’t want polyester. But, I think it’s a good goal to keep in mind, or at least to make it a goal to always start your shopping with a secondhand retailer. This is especially true for clothing. With online secondhand retailers, you can filter by size, brand, color, and more. So, if you don’t have time to go through the racks at a thrift store, online is a good option with the same outcome.

I digress! Let’s take a look at these pouches I made.

I loved using the chest pockets to create larger pouches. I added some handstitching and a wrist strap to one. I just love the idea of using that chest pocket for pens and pencils, note flags, needle books, maybe a dollar or two.

I tried my hand at the quilt-as-you-go technique. I was pretty loose with my fabric selection and didn’t cut with a ruler. This is probably the closest I’ve come to improv ever. Because it’s quilted, this pouch is thick and stable.

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Right is quilt-as-you-go pouch with fabric from all 4 pieces of clothing. Left is the Essential Pouch from the chambray shirt and floral wrap top.

Using the Essential Pouch pattern from Sotak Patterns, I paired the chambray with the green floral fabric from that shirt I’ve had forever. It was a wrap-style top, so I cut off the ties and used one as a zipper pull.

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Pencil-size pouch from a shirt I kept FOREVER. I think I kept it for so long not because I wore it, but because I loved the fabric!

Finally, I made a pencil-size pouch with the floral top. The lining (which you can’t see here) is the lining from the shirt. I love it!

At some point, I’ll get these listed on Etsy. I had so much fun making them, they deserve to be enjoyed. Plus, who couldn’t use another pouch. I love having one in my purse. I keep to-go sewing supplies in another. Give me a pouch and I’ll find a use for it! Surely there are other pouch enthusiasts out there!

April’s Sewing Goal Unfinished: Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Pouch pieces waiting to be sewn.

You read that title right. I did NOT finish my zipper pouches! This was my goal for April’s One Monthly Goal by Elm Street Quilts. My sewjo slipped away and after I was done prepping and making a craft for my daughter’s preschool Easter party and baking a lamb cake for Easter, I was left wondering where the month of April went.

But! I did make progress! I have pieces cut out for 4 pouches. I tried a quilt-as-you-go technique for one of the pouches. I just need to attach the interfacing and stitch them all together.

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Progress on the quilt-as-you-go pouch.

What can I say? Sometimes I can get it done and other times life gets in the way. I think I’m going to take a break from next month’s One Monthly Goal because I now feel like I’m off track. My goal for May was/is to make myself a dress. But, I want to finish these pouches. But, I don’t know if my sewjo has completely returned and I’m not sure if I can finish these pouches and make a dress in a single month. We’ll see!

April’s Sewing Goal: Make Zipper Pouches with Repurposed Clothes

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Thrifted shirts (one from my closet) and zippers destined to become pouches.

It’s time for April’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

My sewing goal for April is to make more zipper pouches (at least 3) using clothes that I’ve purchased at the thrift store (and a shirt I pulled from my own closet). Last Christmas, I tried my hand at making zipper pouches as gifts. I loved making them! So much so, that I purchased 5 metal zippers in February to make pouches with. And, I still have a ton of zippers from the lot I purchased for the Christmas gifts.

Recently, I’ve been inspired to refashion clothing from the thrift store into new things. People donate clothing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes their bodies have changed and the clothing no longer fits. Sometimes their lifestyles have changed and they no longer need a particular type/style of clothing (think someone retiring from a professional job where they had to wear business attire). The clothing you find at a thrift store isn’t all out of style and worn out!

I found two men’s shirts made from really nice fabric that I thought would make nice pouches. I found a 100% silk dress that is too small for me, but I thought may work, too. Then, I’ve had that green shirt with the blue and white flowers since I was in college. Folks, that was around 15 years ago. I rarely wore the shirt when I first bought it and actually never did. Yet, I carried it around with me, never putting it into the donation pile. I think the reason is because I love the fabric too much! Now, I’ll put the fabric into action!

Stay tuned! I’ll share what I make at the end of the month!