How-To: Spring Doily-Sleeved Top

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By Jessica Wilson
It being spring and all, I find myself window shopping more and more. Living with most of my belongings in boxes and on a super tight (aka zero dollar) budget, I have found that creativity is a must for adding some fling to my spring wardrobe. Thank goodness for my magic fabric bin that unveiled an armload of store bought and thrifted doilies. So, grab some scissors, a doily or two, and a glass of powdered drink mix if you like, and hop along for this nifty T-shirt revamp.


1 medium/large or 2 small doilies
1 T-shirt, tank top, or tired dress
Sewing machine
1 pack of unsweetened powdered drink mix
, optional
Large glass measuring cup
, optional
2 cups hot water
, optional
Wooden spoon
, optional


Spring Doily Top Step1
Step 1: Turn t-shirt inside out. Grab a pair of fabric scissors and liberate the sleeves from the top. Follow as close as you can to the serged seam and simply cut, cut, cut away. If you are using a sleeveless top or tank top, skip this part and go on to Step 2.
Spring Doily Top Step2
Step 2: Fold your medium to large (10″-14″) doily in half and cut along fold to create two pieces. This is best done with a doily that has some substance to it. Lacier doilies will be too loosey-goosey to stitch. I used store-bought doilies from the fabric and/or craft store.
Spring Doily Top Step3
Step 3: Fold one of your half pieces in half again and fit the fold over the shoulder of your t-shirt. Adjust as needed and wiggle it out a bit so that about ½” rests on the shirt. Make sure the rest of your doily faces out, not in. Pin into place. Now, I am not a fancy-pants seamstress, so I am certain my pins are all placed incorrectly, but a doily will need a lot of pins, and I mostly use them to anchor while I wrestle the whole thing into the sewing machine. You probably sew much better than I and will pin your pieces in a much cleaner way; one that probably won’t poke you, unlike how I pin. Someday, I will hopefully get it right. Until then, do as I mean, not as I do.
Spring Doily Top Step4
Step 4: Remove the removable piece (what IS that called again?) from your sewing machine so that your sewing arm is skinny and your top sleeve will fit over it. Position the pinned sleeve and doily so that one side of your sewing foot is lined up with the edge of the shirt. I kept left for this project. This will help you keep and even stitch with about a ¼” allowance. Before you stitch, make sure your thread matches your shirt, unless you want a contrasting stitch. Also, before you begin, set your machine to stitch a medium zig-zag.
Spring Doily Top Step5
Step 5: Press on the foot of your sewing machine and get to stitching, making sure to remove pins along the way. Go slow; you don’t want to hit a pin or get the doily all tangled up. Don’t forget to backstitch at both the beginning and the end. Oh, and you will be stitching from one end of the doily to the other, not all the way around the sleeve. When finished, remove from machine and snip threads. Turn it right-side out and put it on to check out your awesomeness.

Directions for using small doilies (6″ or less)

Spring Doily Top Step6
Step 1: To use itty bitty doilies, you will need two of the same size for each top or dress you wish to embellish. If your top or dress has sleeves, remove the sleeves with your trusty scissors, if not, simply get to it. Gather up one doily and fold in half. Position fold over the shoulder of your top or dress, keeping one “edge” of the doily lined up with the neckline edge of your dress. The rest will floop over the other side. . Your top or dress will be right-side out. Pin into place.
Spring Doily Top Step7
Step 2: Bring to your sewing machine, and with a zig-zag stitch, stitch from the inside edge of the shoulder (the edge that would be closest to your neck) to the outside edge of the sleeve.
Spring Doily Top Step8
Step 3: Remove from machine, trim threads, and if you find your doily a bit too floppy, tack into place by hand with a basting stitch. Put top on and throw yourself a party! If you are anything like me, you will find a reason to hit up your fabric store to purchase more doilies than you need to. You may even find yourself turning your jeans into happy doilified shorts.

Directions for tinting your doilies with powdered drink mix

Spring Doily Top Step9
Step 1: While I may like a plain white doily once in a while, I also like a tiny bit of spring color to pop up now and then. You can tint your doilies easily with 2 cups of hot water and 1 packet of unsweetened powdered drink mix. Simply add the mix to the water and stir.
Spring Doily Top Step10
Step 2: Add your doilies and let them sit for fifteen minutes or so. If you want a darker tint, you will need to use more drink mix. You can also use fabric dye but if you’re dying a single doily or two, you can’t go wrong with a twenty-five cent pack of lemonade.
Spring Doily Top Step11
Step 3: Remove doilies from your dye bath, rinse, and hang in a sunny spot to dry. Once dry, they are ready for cutting and stitching.
About the Author:
Author Jessica Wilson 2
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.

9 thoughts on “How-To: Spring Doily-Sleeved Top

  1. Brookelynn says:

    You are adorable and your project is adorable! I have so many shirts with awkward arms, this is exactly the tutorial that I needed!

  2. jek says:

    it’s quite addicting so get all yer supplies together so you can dash em out. perfect for spring and even prettier for summer!

  3. Alice says:

    I love the doilies! They are so spring like! Great advice!

  4. Alice says:

    I love the doilies! They are so spring like! Great advice!

  5. bekahdrey says:

    I love this idea. I have been looking for a easy way to spruce up my tank tops, and I think this may be the answer.

  6. jek says:

    i hope you have fun and if you need any “help” gimme a shout! thank you.

  7. jek says:

    and thanks!

  8. thesis says:

    I know that you have done ambitious job, accomplishing your nice theme referring to this good topic. Therefore, that kind of task people do accomplishing their thesis or just thesis paper researching.

  9. BiznesIdeiinfosait says:

    Всем привет. Вот решил занятся бизнесом, но пока не могу определиться с темой. Может кто подскажет хорошие бизнес идеи? Надоело работать на дядю, хочется чего-то своего.

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