Up and Down Striped Shirt and Penguin Helmet {tutorial}


Finishing the Up & Down tutorials that we started with on Tuesday & Wednesday, today we have the red and white striped shirt, as well as an optional helmet for the penguin that dreams about flying.


Making the red and white shirt is really rather simple. It is a basic upcycle. I actually considered going a more difficult route – with either fabric paint or sewing red and white stripes together…but I stumbled across this rugby striped polo at the thrift store which was perfect!


Polos are a really easy knit to work with. The stretch is there, which makes it comfy, but they aren’t so wobbly that you have to worry about wonky hemlines. I love it, and will definitely start looking at polos more often for a nice, thicker shirt material for Ben! My favorite thing though may be the neckline that the polo’s old collar provides. It really makes for a nice handmade shirt (as in, there is nothing that looks ‘handmade’ about it!!!).

Here is how you can upcycle your old polos for the littlest man or lady in your life…


I didn’t go into detail here as to how to cut out the pattern pieces.  I feel like I am starting to repeat myself on that one.  For a more in depth description on making your own shirt pattern pieces, you can see HERE.  Just be sure to utilize the pre-existing hems on your polo for the shirt bottom, and sleeves.  This makes for a much nicer finished product.

Once you have your pattern pieces cut out…



To measure your collar, pin around neckline.  Then cut your collar the same size as your neckline, adding 1″ for seam allowance!


And there you have it…a perfect, not so handmade looking, shirt.


Now, getting that Penguin ready to fly…


Using the pattern pieces that are provided HERE, simply follow along below.


And there you have it!  A super cute gift idea for any little book loving child!

I hope you enjoyed this little homage to the Once Upon a Thread Series, inspired by the book Up & Down by Oliver Jeffers.  It is truly a fabulous book, and I hope you get the chance to share it with your little ones some day.  


Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…

Happy Sewing!

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Jess Abbott the Sewing Rabbit is the founder and creative director behind the me sew crazy blog, as well as SewSet.com, 5 & 10 Designs, GNO Events, and co-editor of STYLO. She resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 3 children.
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  1. says

    I thought the line “And there you have it…a perfect, not so handmade looking, shirt.” said a “not so handsome looking shirt.” And I thought, “What the heck is she talking about?” So then I had to go back and reread the entire post to see how I had missed that you were trying to make a shirt that wasn’t handsome, even when it had ended up handsome! It was during that second reading of the post that I saw it said “handmade.”

    I should not read before drinking my coffee.


    Thanks for another great tutorial. I was about to garage sale a couple of my hubby’s old polos. I’m pulling them out and tossing them in the sewing materials pile now!

  2. says

    I am loving this shirt and the collar idea for boys! I never know what to do with the collars if I use up a shirt, so this is perfect! Also…I was wondering when you say “edgestitch around” what that exactly means…it looks like you used a double needle…is using a double needle edgestiching? haha! I’m just self taught, so sometimes I’m not sure! :)

  3. says

    That polo was a good find and those cheeks are so kissable! :) I like to trim my neck binding so it’s a bit smaller than the neck opening, then stretch the binding as I sew it to the neckline.

  4. says

    Your last picture is so adorable! How cute! :)

    I found your blog through a Google search, seems we are both having the exact same problem with Google Docs (I read your request for assistance). I just can’t figure this one out and am hoping that you have found an answer. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks. :)

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