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How to Transform Your Onesies Into Tiny T-Shirts

How to Transform Your Onesies Into Tiny T-Shirts

This is a guest post from Natalie Robbins, our certified coach serving Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
Enjoy! xx Andrea

When we were expecting our firstborn, Elimination Communication wasn't even remotely on our radar. So, when clothes shopping, we figured *of course* we needed onesies…and plenty of them.

If you're like me, the moment you started practicing EC, those snaps became one of your biggest headaches, right? I mean, snapping and unsnapping every couple hours….no big deal. But every 30 minutes?!?! Forget it.

And so…the snaps were left hanging unsnapped, they were snapped to the side, sometimes snapped over the shoulders. Snapped everywhere except where they were meant to be snapped.

AND, to pile on the offense, if you switch from disposables to cloth diapers, the onesies you had been using no longer fit, and you have to size up early. Ugh!

THEN, if you make the jump to using Tiny Trainers (which we did at 10 months), even the thought of using onesies gets thrown out the window. I definitely don't want a miss to involve an entire outfit change.

There's a practical solution to this difficulty - turn your onesies into t-shirts! The pattern I'm going to share with you today is SO easy - anyone can do it, even if the only sewing tools you own are a needle and some thread.

It actually took us until our baby was almost 12 months old before we finally broke and cut a onesie apart…I was so scared of ruining them. To be fair, at that point we basically only owned tops and bottoms in her size, so it was a matter of saving a favorite onesie that would otherwise never ever be worn again. But with this pattern on hand, maybe you can make the jump a lot sooner!

A word of caution: Before you go and destroy your entire stash - maybe just try one. You may find you actually still prefer onesies, especially if your baby isn't mobile yet, so they don't ride up your baby's belly when you carry them all the time. And if you find it doesn't quite work for you, the one onesie you’ve modified will still make a great PJ top with easy diaper access.

If you're worried this might be too much for you, let me assure you, I am NOT a seamstress by any means - if it was simple enough for me, you can do it, too. It would definitely be faster with a sewing machine, but I don't have one, so hand-sewing does the trick (and it's relaxing too!).

Alright, enough with the backstory. Let's get to this pattern!

Items needed:

  • Needle
  • An old onesie (probably start with your least-favorite, in case it doesn't turn out as expected)
  • Thread (preferably a matching or complementary color)
  • Pins (if you don't have sewing pins, safety pins should also serve your purpose. Even paper clips, butterfly clips, or clothespins could work - anything to keep the fold in place)

1) Get those scissors!

To begin, cut the onesie at the lowest point possible, while maintaining a mostly-straight line across. You want as much room to work with as possible.

Get those scissors

2) Reverse the shirt

Then, flip your onesie-turned-tshirt inside out. We are going to hem up the bottom to prevent it from rolling, and add some extra cuteness.

Reverse the shirt

3) Fold the bottom edge

Fold up all the way around the bottom of the shirt just a hair - I folded mine up a little more than I should have here, but I had to because the bottom was a bit too curved.

Fold the bottom edge

4) Fold again, and pin

Then fold it up a second time. It should look like the picture below. Pin that roll of fabric in place - be sure to avoid accidentally pinning the two sides of the shirt together. You should still be able to put the shirt on your baby (If you wanted to, that is. Definitely don't try it with the pins still in.).

Fold again, and pin

5) Thread your needle

I like to double the string, thread it through the needle, and then bring the ends together and knot it. This makes it 4 threads wide which gives you a sturdy, thick thread to work with. It's nice to have your thread (after the doubling and knotting) measure about double the width of the shirt, which will get you through half the hem and leave you enough to secure it at the side seam instead of in the middle of the shirt.

thread your needle

6) Begin stitching

Start near one side seam and poke your needle down into the top part of your fold. Since the shirt is inside out, this means the extra thread left after your knot will be hidden on the inside.

Begin stitching

7) Stitch the hem

Then hand stitch all the way across the top part of your fold around the shirt, taking pins out as you go. This will keep your hem secure, and leave a very cute little line of stitches at the bottom of the shirt. It WILL be visible, so be sure to keep it as straight as possible.

I found that as opposed to pushing the needle down and pulling the thread through, then up and pulling it through, it was much easier to keep a straight line if I went down and up before pulling the needle through.

I would poke the needle through downward, then leave a millimeter or two of space and poke it upwards, like in the photo below. Then I would pull the thread all the way through.

This allowed me to have neat even stitches, and helped speed up the process because I wasn't flipping the fabric back and forth over and over again.

stitch the hem

8) Tie off your thread.

When you are getting low on thread (maybe with 3-4 inches left), secure and knot the thread, like I will explain in the next couple of steps. I had enough thread to get through half the hem (from one side seam to the other), tie it off, and then rethread for the second half.

Tie off your thread

8.a) To begin finishing off the end of your thread, stick the needle into a teeny bit of fabric and pull through, but not all the way - leave some string still loose and not pulled through the fabric, like in the picture below.

Then place your needle inside that loop, pull through, and pull it tight.

begin finishing off the end of your thread

8.b) Repeat step eight a second time - this time instead of poking the needle into the fabric, thread the needle into the knot you just created before sticking it through the loop and pulling it tight. This will create a strong, lasting knot that won't come undone.

thread the needle into the knot

9) Complete any remaining steps, and enjoy!

Now, go back to step five and repeat for the other side of the shirt (the second half of the hem), unless you used a really long thread and got all the way around the shirt the first time - then you're done!

Once you've finished off the knot on the other side, and all your pins have been removed, turn the shirt right-side out and try it on your sweet baby!

How to Transform Your Onesies Into Tiny T-Shirts

A couple other notes:

The shirt I used for this post turned out to be a tiny bit short. We saw a lot of our baby's belly button that evening - oops! The onesie from my first try seemed a little bit longer, and covered her appropriately like a regular shirt. So this t-shirt will probably be used exclusively on top of dresses - to make our little Spring dresses more Fall-friendly.

It's held up well in the wash, and I'm so happy to finally be getting some use out of my favorite onesie again!

Definitely play around and see what works well for you - I hope this inspires you to give it a try!

And now, I'm curious….

Who else has cut up onesies and turned them into T-shirts? 🙋‍♀️

and…

Depending on your little one's age, do you prefer onesies or shirts for your baby? 👶

PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)

Natalie Robbins

About Natalie Robbins

Natalie Robbins first stumbled across EC when her daughter was 3 months old, and has been an enthusiastic advocate for it ever since. She has a background in Deaf Education, and is now a certified Go Diaper Free coach, working to provide ASL access to the hidden gem of EC for the Deaf Community. Natalie is also a strong proponent for Natural Family Planning, particularly for the knowledge it provides to pinpoint and address any hidden fertility difficulties. She hopes to one day be certified to teach NFP and share this love with others as well. Natalie enjoys hiking and reading books aloud with her husband and daughter, visiting beautiful churches, teaching elementary students (in ASL....she could never handle the noise of a regular classroom), and reading up on breastfeeding, natural family planning, and of course, elimination communication. She vlogs about her EC journey at ASL Pottyventures.

40 Comments

  1. Avatar esther on December 8, 2020 at 6:27 am

    Haha, when you talked about onesies I thought you meant those jumpsuits with buttons from shoulder to toes or from ankle to ankle. 3 buttons are nothing compared to those.

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 8, 2020 at 6:58 am

      It may be a minor hassle, but still enough for them to get shoved in the back of a dresser at our house. You’re right, the buttons all the way down the legs are the worst though – you could totally turn them into a little button up shirt instead! :)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 10, 2020 at 5:13 am

      Those are the worst for EC.

  2. Avatar Rebekah on December 8, 2020 at 6:57 am

    I’ve tried it, but only once or twice. I found it hard to find a onesie long enough, but my babes have both been long and lean. If I have a third I may do it again. I’ve always wondered though if there was a way to turn a sleeper into a gown or two piece pjs. I think I’m out of luck on that one

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 8, 2020 at 7:03 am

      Maybe a onesie a size up would work better? I’ve wondered if it would be possible to follow more of the curve instead of sewing straight across would help to maximize the length, but it’d be a little more tricky to sew. I still find the too-short shirts helpful as undershirts when it’s cold.

      Hmmm, that’s a thought! I think you could definitely turn the snapping ones into a button up shirt. A ph set would be so nice though if it could be figured out! Let us know if you do. :)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 10, 2020 at 5:14 am

      They do make sleep gowns for babies, and sometimes I recommend them to families.

  3. Avatar Mousey on December 8, 2020 at 8:17 am

    I’ve also found the onesie cut off shirts to be too short for regular use, so what I’ve done is sew a skirt on the bottom of the shirt. It works for girls and is super cute! Like a comfy t-shirt dress. For the skirt material I used an old cotton knit t-shirt of mine with the bottom hem intact so all you have to do is sew the shirt to the skirt. Try it! Great article, by the way! :)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 4:50 am

      Glad you enjoyed the article! I love your idea of the t-shirt dresses!!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      So cute! I’ll definitely have to try some t-shirt dresses. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Avatar Liza on December 8, 2020 at 8:31 am

    When my son outgrew his onesies, I used them as tshirts as-is! I simply tuck the long bits into his shorts and voila! Neat as a pin! Hehe.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:03 am

      Voila! Tucked in neat, and the ‘new tshirt’ probably never comes out of the pants either.

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      Perfect! And no sewing involved. :) :)

  5. Avatar Carol on December 8, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Great idea! Thank you!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:04 am

      My pleasure 💕

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      You’re welcome!

  6. Avatar IR on December 8, 2020 at 8:50 am

    I just cut them without bothering to hem and use them when we are at home. T shirts won’t unravel even if you don’t hem them.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:06 am

      You are right, they don’t really unravel even if you just cut them off without hemming them. This can be helpful for families that don’t sew or don’t have access to a sewing machine.

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Definitely a faster process that way! Thanks for the tip. :)

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 15, 2020 at 4:45 am

        My pleasure! 💕

  7. Avatar Courtney on December 8, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I’ve tried it too and it somewhat worked. Definitely a little shorter than normal shirts, but not quite too short. I’m scared to try it on my favorite onesie in case it turns out too short. It’s out of season now since it’s shortsleeve, but I may come back and try it in spring if he’s still fitting in this size. This post inspired me to try again!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:08 am

      Great to hear you are feeling inspired again!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      It’s also totally ok to save the onesie as is, for memories, or another baby. :) I may be doing that with most of our newborn clothes, for now…. Glad the post was inspiring!

  8. Avatar Jessica on December 8, 2020 at 9:55 am

    I have done this and now I’m inspired . I love this all these coaches are really motivating me I can’t wait to be a part of all these mommas rockin it out. I also really appreciated tip number 7 about poking down and up . So helpful can’t wait to give this a try !

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:09 am

      Yay, it’s awesome to hear you are feeling inspired and motivated!!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      Glad the tip was helpful! Good luck!

  9. Avatar Karen Johnson on December 8, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Yup! I cut up a ton of my daughter’s onesies and used my sewing machine to hem them. With my second, I plan to use onesies until about 6mo, just because they are rolling around so much and it’s winter here in Alaska. We will switch to shirts then

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:13 am

      Nice, and once you are ready to go to t-shirts, you will have them ready!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      Nice to know I’m not the only one! That sounds like a great plan! :)

  10. Avatar Ashley Difuntorum on December 8, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    I have cut up probably 90% of the onesies we received (no one gifts t-shirts!) as well as button-down sleeper/footies to make little sweater/jackets. Just cut as low as possible following the curve. No sewing required and they cover the belly too! For jackets I cut straight across and as low as possible to the beginning of the legs. I prefer tops only in combination with leggings (and some cute cloth diapers), but when baby girl was very little we’d dress her in onesies for car rides because t-shirts would ride up her back and make her uncomfortable in the car seat. And we’d use button-down footies for night time because she would remove socks and blankets. But once she outgrew them I’d cut those up too and make a brand new garment we could use for another several months!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 5:48 am

      Love how organized you are! Seems like you have you have your method down!!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      These are great tips, thank you!

  11. Avatar Stephanie on December 11, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Haven’t cut them up yet, but planned to this winter break! Weve used both tops and onsies and I prefer tops! Even with a non-mobile baby. It’s less annoying to me that her shirt rides up her belly than having to deal with snaps. It just makes the whole process of potty time smoother, and that ultimately makes momma, papa, AND baby happier!

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:04 pm

      Whatever makes the whole family happiest is definitely the way to go! Good luck on your winter break project!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 15, 2020 at 4:54 am

      Excellent!!! I LOVE happier babies. ❤️

  12. Avatar Marya Morales on December 11, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Yes, the onesies have been driving me mad!
    And everyone is so kind to give me all their old ones … I feel bad but now I think I will give in and totally repurpose them. I’d been considering it. Time to do it since I’ve been super committed to EC for my third baby, Onyx.

    • Natalie Robbins Natalie Robbins on December 12, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      Hand me downs are definitely so helpful! It can be hard though, when the clothing is inconvenient for EC. But maybe down the road you can pass on those onesies-turned-tshirts to another family who does EC, so they don’t have to deal with the hassle. :)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 15, 2020 at 4:53 am

      ❤️ Typically clothes are passed down to avoid going into the garbage. So if you can modify them and make the clothes better suit your needs, then definitely go for it. For baby Onyx 😍

  13. Avatar Victoria on December 22, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Going to try this today, thank you!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 29, 2020 at 3:32 am

      Awesome!🤩

  14. Avatar Andrea on December 30, 2020 at 12:04 am

    So is it safe to assume that you do tops and bottoms for sleeping to (or sleep gowns)? Do you swaddle wrap them at night (I think my friend did that to help with sleep training, but it seems that could be as hard as snaps🤷‍♀️)? Def going to alter some of my onesies!!

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