Back from Vacation! Pennsic Dress! Garden! Etc!

Hello, internet!  I’m back from my blogging vacation, which means I should be putting out posts every Monday and Thursday again for a while.  🙂  This post is a weird mishmash of things going on my life this week and updates from the past month or so.  Scroll down for a rough tutorial on how to make a dress out of a huge tshirt!

First – I have somehow gotten almost twice as many page views in the past month, with me not blogging, as I had been getting before.  So welcome new people!  Yay!  I’m glad to have you around.

Pennsic Pictures!

Pennsic is the amazing two week camping SCA camping event I go to every year.  It’s so wonderful.  Two weeks of living within a few minutes’ walk of dozens of my friends and family – I love it.  There’s also the giant rapier battles that I have the privilege of commanding (I’m Pentamere XO – a regional “executive officer” or second-in-command), which are just a blast.  I didn’t take too many photos of Pennsic.  If you’re curious, here’s a great article – it’s really long, but totally captures a lot of the magic of the place, even if you just want to glance at its photos.

I arrived on Friday evening of the first weekend, which is called “land grab,” because the people in charge of each camping block divvy up the camping space early on Saturday morning (each person who registers with a camping block gives it 250 square feet).  Before land grab takes place, people camp out on the battlefield with their cars and trailers.  Someone had a Tardis trailer!

Here’s my amazing region, Pentamere (LP Michigan)!  Someone had the brilliant idea of getting all the Pentamere rapier fighters to pose for a picture.  I’m so glad.  We certainly kicked major butt on the rapier field this war!  I’m so proud of Pentamere.

Someone sneakily got a picture of me commanding.

Another sneaky picture-taker!  Hanging out in camp in the evening when it’s colder, I sometimes will put on my leather and fur hood.  I made it a couple years ago, and it is amazing!  Extremely comfortable and extremely warm.  I am surprised just how warm this keeps me.  The hood piece (which is down around my neck right now – it’s a full hood) is lined with rabbit fur, and the edges of the piece are fox fur scraps.

Reading in camp!

Pennsic Tshirt Dress

Every year, there is a merchant at Pennsic that sells a new tshirt design.  Usually I’ve just looked out of curiousity and not purchased one.  I don’t tend to wear tshirts, so it doesn’t seem worth my money.  This year, though, the tshirt design is stupendous.  I adore it.  It tormented me all week, because I kept thinking about it, but also that I don’t wear tshirts.  Two days before the end of Pennsic, the idea struck me as I was going to sleep – I would buy the largest tshirt size they had, and make it into a dress!

Here’s a blurry photo of the original 5XL tshirt.

And the finished dress!  The entire dress is made out of the original tshirt, except for the black edging, which is a black knit remnant from my fabric stash.  I forgot to get a picture of the back of the dress – the design on the back is also really beautiful.

If you could look closely at the side triangles, there are a lot of seams there to make it fit the fabric.  I have a bare handful of tiny tiny scraps of red tshirt left!

Rough tutorial on how the dress was made

  1. I took a tshirt I own that fits well (I do have a few) and folded it in half along the vertical center of the front.  Folding the Pennsic tshirt in half, I laid the other tshirt on top of it.  I marked the side seam with chalk from under the armpit to my waist, where I wanted the skirt to start flaring.  I used a tshirt for this step, not a tank top, because it’s the same fabric type.  If you measure side seams with a ribbed knit tank top, the seams will be way off and it will be very frustrating (I speak from experience here…)
  2. I pinned the new sideseam with safety pins and tried it on (always try it on before cutting or sewing each step!).  After being satisfied, I sewed the side seams.  I didn’t cut the excess fabric yet.
  3. I laid a favorite tank top over the Pennsic shirt (both folded down the center).  I marked the neckline and armholes with chalk and cut.  I continued cutting down from the armholes, down the already-sewn side seams, and then straight down the rest of the dress (so the front panels were rectangles from where the side seams end).  This left the remaining tshirt in big chunks of fabric.
  4. I unpicked the hem.  I wanted the extra inch of fabric that unpicking the original hem would give me!
  5. I measured all the remaining pieces of tshirt fabric I had, after cutting open the sleeves so they would lay flat.  I knew I wanted to make the dress about 6″ longer (so I needed two blocks roughly 6″ by 22″, the bottom length of the front and back panels, hopefully in one piece for fewer visible seams in the dress).  I also knew that ideally I needed the side triangles to be at least 10″ on the bottom, so I needed to be able to make a long rectangle that was 6″ by twice the length of the side seams.  The side triangles would be created by cutting a long rectangle along the diagonal and sewing the 90 degree edges together – two right triangles coming together to make the isosceles triangle of the panel.  So to make a ~10″ isosceles triangle, about a ~6″ wide rectangle would bring two pieces together with enough seam allowances to do that.
  6. After all my futzing, I found that I could cut two the two front and back bottom panels in solid pieces with enough fabric left for the rest.  I then sewed together the rest to make the widest rectangle I could that was about 50″ long (twice the side seam from waist to knee).  This ended up being about 8″ wide, so I had even wider side triangles – this means more swing and poof to the skirt, yay!  This long rectangle was cut in half (two ~25″ long rectangles), and then each cut along the diagonal, leaving four right triangles.  These triangles were sewn together at the 90 degree angles to create two isosceles triangles.
  7. The front and pack panels were sewn to the bottom of the front and back rectangles.
  8. The side triangles were sewn into the sides.
  9. A friend marked the hemline, and I cut it to be straight.
  10. All of the edges were bound in black knit fabric.  The neck and armholes were finished as in my favorite tank top tutorial.  The bottom hem was not stretched at all, but fit to size; otherwise, it was also sewn the same way.


One Pennsic tshirt, size 5XL.  A remnant of black knit fabric from another project.


None (unless you count red and black thread, which I already owned).


Under 10.  I worked on it for three days, 2-3 hours each day, I believe.

Will you make it again?

YES.  It was enjoyable and fun, and I love the results!

Total cost

$22 for the Pennsic tshirt.  Maybe another dollar worth of thread.

Final thoughts

I adore this dress so much already.  I wore it for two days straight after I made it, because I didn’t want to take it off.  It is so comfortable and easy to wear – just throw on a sports bra and the dress (I love tank-style tops, as sports bras as so comfy).  I have a bunch of tshirts sitting around that I’ve been meaning to make into other clothes, and I have the feeling they will be sewn together to make patchwork tank dresses just like this one.

Garden Update!

I’ve added a fence to my garden!  A bunny or something had demolished a few of my plants one week early in the process, and I wanted to prevent that from happening again.  I also weeded the garden for the second time all summer before setting up the fence.  Things seem to be growing just fine with me weeding every month or two, so I’m probably going to continue that.  Less work = Kell more likely to keep gardening.

Also, my garden has started producing food!  It’s so amazing.  I’m really in love with it right now.  Below you can see kale, arugula, and sage.  I have cooked with fresh sage and rosemary this week several times, and the food just tastes better.  I am starting to believe all the people who have told me that fresh herbs are better than dried.

Brussel sprouts!  These appear to still have a long way to go.  I’m curious to see how they turn out.

Tons of tomato plants!  There are also rosemary and basil plants along the bottom.

Below is just one day’s harvest from my tomato plants.  I’ve been getting similar crops (5-15 small tomatoes, and 0-3 big tomatoes) every day for the past week.  Every day.  So awesome.


Here’s another day’s tomato crop from this week.  Amazing!  I also had a great lunch a couple days ago, where I picked some arugula leaves and basil leaves, chopped them up along with a tomato, and sprinkled it all with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a little sugar (to offset the bitter of the arugula) – it was so delicious.  I adore that I can go pick just enough arugula for a salad or sandwich, and the plant will keep the rest of the leaves healthy (and not slowly rotting in my fridge).

That’s a lot of my current updates!  My garden is thriving, I am continuing to sew neat things, and Pennsic was great.  It was still hard and pretty emotional at times, and I’m still struggling a little day to day now, but things are better this year than last year at this time.  I figured out last week how to add watermarks to my photos, so those will start showing up on blog photos soon.  That way, people can easily share my photos if they want to, and the watermark will show where they came from.  Things are slowly chugging along in the direction I want them to go.  My main mantra right now is patience – I keep wanting things to be great, right now, and my friends have been reminding me that I am doing wonderfully and I need to keep having patience.  Healing is a slow process.  Patience is good.  🙂

Hope all is well for everyone out there!  Feel free to share neat things going on in your lives!  ~Kell

Author: Wynter

I'm a scientist from Ann Arbor, MI! Leatherworker. Sewist. Exuberant gardener. Board game addict. SCAdian. Huge nerd. :)

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