Hooked on Needles

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recycle Old Pants into a Child's Art Smock - Tutorial

Do you recycle your old clothes, or just throw them away when you can no longer use them?

Many years ago, I worked part time at Sears which meant that I had to have either black or tan pants to wear to work. I had one favorite pair of pants that I wore every time I worked, thus wearing them out by the time I left that job after my younger children were born. The other day I was cleaning out my closet and pulling out clothes I had not worn in a long time so they could be donated, and I came across this pair of pants which was the perfect fabric for an art smock my son needed for art class this year. I just knew I could do something with the generous amount of good fabric still available from this pair of pants. So I took them down to my sewing room and got to work. Here's what I did...and you can do it too! Just follow along!

Child's Art Smock TutorialI said an official good-bye to my favorite pair of work pants. They had served me well.

Child's Art Smock TutorialThen I proceeded to cut both legs off. (Don't look too closely at that piece of paper on my cutting mat. I was sketching ideas for my Halloween Apron Swap project!) My original intent was to make an apron type of smock for Sean, requiring only one leg of the pants. I would then use the other leg to make one for Grace who is not yet in school but of course thinks she has to have everything that her big brother has!

Child's Art Smock TutorialSo I began cutting the fabric just like I did with my recycled jeans aprons. I cut up the inside seam and folded both pant legs so the raw edges were even. With the hem end of the pant leg being the top of the smock, I marked the armhole curve with a pen. All this is just eyeballed, so you can hold it up to your model (mine was Sean!) and just estimate where this line should be.

Child's Art Smock TutorialThen I cut out the armhole through all layers of the fabric, thus cutting 4 armhole sections at one time.

This is when I got the idea that I really wanted this smock to have sleeves. Art class can be messy, and uniform shirts aren't cheap, so sleeves really would be a good idea if I could pull it off.

I scrounged through my fabric stash and let Sean and Grace both pick the fabric that appealed to them. Sean chose the school print fabric, and Grace insisted on two fabrics that have nothing to do with each other and actually clash terribly. She couldn't be more pleased with her selection! Oh to be 4 again and not care what other people think!

Having many years of experience sewing clothing of all sorts, I decided that I would attempt a raglan sleeve design with 4 matching pieces: front and back which are the pant legs (Grace's will have to wait for another pair of pants!), and two sleeves which are cut out of fabric. In my head it seemed to work. But would it work in fabric?

Child's Art Smock TutorialI spread out my school print fabric, folded just as it came off the bolt, and placed the cut-up pant leg piece on top. I folded in the edges so they would be more straight since I did not want the sleeves to be too puffy. Then I cut out the school print fabric.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI matched up the armhole edges of each sleeve to the appropriate front and back piece and stitched the seams.

Child's Art Smock TutorialThis is what I ended up with...the neckline which was way too big, but would be perfect when drawn in by elastic.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI trimmed off the pant leg hem which was now at the neckline so that it would be even with the top edge of the sleeves.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI cut a strip of fabric about 2 1/2 inches by the width of the fabric for the neckline casing.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI folded it in half lengthwise and pressed the fold. Then I folded in each edge and pressed it.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI pinned the strip to the neckline with right sides together, starting at the center back, folding over the beginning edge and the ending edge. Then I stitched this along the pressed fold.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI folded over the casing strip and pinned it all around so that it would cover the raw edge and provide a clean neckline edge for the elastic to be threaded through. Then I stitched it from the right side about 1/8 inch from the lower edge of the casing, thus catching in the folded edge on the inside of the neckline.

Child's Art Smock TutorialI threaded the elastic through the casing using a safety pin. This is a good point to try the smock on the intended wearer of it to make sure the elastic is loose enough to allow the smock to be put on and taken off, and also to make sure it is tight enough to keep it up over the shoulders. Adjust the elastic to the perfect size, pin it, remove the smock and stitch the ends of the elastic together. Pull the neckline to evenly distribute the casing fabric along the elastic.

Child's Art Smock TutorialNow on to the sleeves. While your little model is still wearing the smock, mark with a safety pin where you want the sleeves to end. Lay out both sleeves folded in half and layered together on your cutting board. Cut the extra fabric off leaving at least 2 inches beyond the safety pin marker to be folded up and stitched as casing for the elastic.

Child's Art Smock TutorialSpread the sleeve end flat onto your ironing board with the wrong side up.

Child's Art Smock TutorialFold under about 3/8 inch from raw edge and press. Fold again about 1 inch from pressed edge and press. Do this for both sleeves.

Stitch side and sleeve seams together, with the end of the sleeve folded down at the 3/8 inch fold.

Child's Art Smock TutorialThen fold on the next pressed fold to complete the casing, pin in place and stitch, leaving an opening of about an inch to thread the elastic.

Child's Art Smock TutorialCut a piece of elastic about an inch bigger than your child's wrist. Thread it through the casing with a safety pin just as you did for the neckline. It is a good idea to pin the other end to the fabric so it won't get pulled into the casing.

Pin the ends of the elastic together and stitch them, making sure the elastic is not twisted in the casing. Tuck the elastic back into the opening by pulling on the casing.

Child's Art Smock TutorialStitch the opening closed.

Child's Art Smock TutorialIf you like, cut 2 pocket shapes in whatever shape your child wants. Sean wanted a slash pocket on the front so he could put both hands in and have them meet in the middle! Some kids just know what they like! Sew the two pieces, right sides together, leaving a small opening for turning. Trim corners and turn right side out. Press.

Child's Art Smock TutorialPlace the smock flat on your cutting mat and position the pocket where you want it. It may look like this one is off center because of the seam line in the pant leg, but if you look at the pant legs on any pair of pants you will notice that the front part and the back part are not the same size!

Pin the pocket in place and then stitch, making sure not to stitch the opening where little hands will go!

Hem the bottom edge however you like. I turned the bottom edge over once and zig zag stitched it using a contrasting color thread. You could also make more binding from your fabric and bind the bottom edge to make it look more finished. Or put a pretty ruffle on it for a girl. Dress it up or down however you like.

Child's Art Smock TutorialAnd here you have one old pair of pants, some almost forgotten fabric from my stash, a piece of elastic from inside my sewing chair, and about 2 hours of time. But we all know the real result of all this is one happy little boy excited about the next art class at school! Truly priceless!

Happy Stitching!

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  • Oh so clever! My kids got one of their dad's old shirts to wear for art time; worn backwards with the buttons in the back. I'm sure they would have much prefered a cool smock like Sean's!

    By Blogger Rumi, At September 3, 2009 at 7:49 AM  

  • Wow what a fantastic use of an older pair of slack.. you go girlfriend for going green :) I love how the little art smock turned out. Very nice :)

    By Blogger Aunt Pitty Pat's Fun, At September 3, 2009 at 8:28 PM  

  • I'm making two of these for my twin boys. I'm using denim pants legs and some leftover dinosaur fabric for the arms. The neck and sleeve edges will be finished with some fold over elastic I still have from their diaper days. The FOE makes this project much faster. One pair of denim jeans were slightly darker than other. So, that's how we'll tell them apart. Wish I could share a picture when they're done.

    By Anonymous Erin, At September 6, 2015 at 12:32 AM  

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