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Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Batch for the Patch

Cheap Frills Tutorial #3

I’m in a festive mood this week.

Good point. I’m almost always in a festive mood, eager to decorate, ready to celebrate, crazy for costumes. But this week it is officially Halloween Season, so I’m extra festive. Leaves are turning colors and falling (yes, even in Southern California). Some of my neighbors have decorations up (oh, I love their gusto!). Costume ideas are swirling around in my brain. Let the fun begin!

It’s been a while since my last Cheap Frills tutorial, so I won’t wait a day longer. I want to share the steps for whipping up a batch of pumpkin shirts. This weekend we are going to the pumpkin patch (it’s more a farm but let’s not split hairs). And what is more fitting than a batch of pumpkins (in the form of shirts) at the patch of pumpkins?

The first time I made one of these shirts was when I was 6 months pregnant. I figured that I should use my round shape as it would enhance the 3-d pumpkin effect. I’ve worn this shirt every October since. One can get many years of use from this shirt. (This shirt is double fun: cute, and cost-effective!)

(I feel a little silly even calling this a tutorial as it’s not very complicated. But no excuse is needed for fun holiday-themed outfits.) Let the crafting begin!

Supplies needed:

1)     Find an orange t-shirt. You could take one from your closet if you happen to have one. Or dye a white t-shirt orange. I bought our shirts at Michael’s craft store for $2.99 each.

2)     Get some black felt (a great deal at Michaels: 29 cents for a 9” x 12” piece, which is more than enough felt for one shirt.) Why felt? Because it doesn't fray.

3)     Find fabric glue or hot glue (I love hot glue because it’s cheap and dries fast.). If you love to sew, you could use black thread instead of glue. This tutorial involves glue, which gives quicker results than thread and I don’t know about you, but I need time-savers!

4)     Grab a pair of scissors. Those designed for cutting fabric are best, but ordinary scissors work, too.

5)     Find some straight pins, safety pins or tape, and a piece of cardboard.


1)     Cut three triangles out of black felt. Mine are roughly 3” high by 2” wide, but you can make them as big or small as you like. From a design standpoint, it makes sense to put bigger eyes, nose and mouth on a shirt for an adult, and smaller eyes, nose and mouth on a shirt for a child. But there’s no wrong way to do this. Just have fun with it. If you feel nervous about cutting triangles, make a template for yourself using paper. Just fold a piece of paper and cut a half triangle shape across the fold. Open it up and you have a symmetrical triangle. Make adjustments if you don’t like the size or shape of your triangle. Some people like the eyes to be bigger than the nose but the sizes and shapes of your triangles are up to you. (And who says you have to do triangles? You could make eyes of any shape you like. I’m suggesting triangles because they are a classic jack-o-lantern feature.)

2)     Lay your shirt flat on a bed or table. This will help you to find the center of the shirt.

3)     Pin the eyes and nose onto your shirt, roughly where you think you’d like them. (Use tape if you prefer.)

4)     Cut a mouth out of felt. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting without a template, use the folded paper trick from Step 1 to create a half smile (or scary grimace). Unfold and you have a symmetrical smile. Pin or tape the mouth below the nose.

5)     Try on your shirt and find a mirror. If you don’t like the placement of the eyes, nose and mouth, take the pins out (or tape off) and make adjustments to the location of your jack-o-lantern face. When you are happy with the placement, lay your shirt down on a flat surface. Put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt, under the spot where you will use glue. The cardboard ensures that the glue will not seep through the front of the shirt and onto the back. Use fabric glue or hot glue to attach the eyes, nose and mouth to the shirt. (Take the pins or tape off right before you glue or sew the felt pieces.) Allow the glue to dry for the length of time recommended in the instructions (hot glue takes only a few minutes to dry fully, which is why it is my favorite.) Remove cardboard. If you feel inspired, add extra touches (eyelashes, a moustache, a bow tie, eye glasses, or whatever you like).

6)     (If you are really obsessed with crafts, as I am, and if you really want to avoid doing boring household chores, as I do, repeat Steps 1-5 on the back of your shirt. You will be a jack-o-lantern coming and going, which is twice as fun.) Now wear this shirt and show your HalloweEnthusiasm! 

Let’s break down our cost (assuming you already had glue): $2.99 for the shirt, plus 29 cents for the felt. Grand total: $3.28. I like to wear my shirt at least 5-6 times per October so that I’m really feeling the spooky season. The shirt will last for years, so this is a lot of bang for your buck!



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