This project from Alabama Stitch Book, like our Handmade Red selection, and the Holiday Stocking, is another perfect holiday project. Made from two recycled t-shirts, you can get started with materials you have right in your own closet. (Don’t we all have a few t-shirts we don’t need?)
The project was posted originally on the Cotton, Inc., website in 2008 around the time of the launch of Alabama Stitch Book. Start practicing now because we have a great DIY Wreath coming up on Monday that is based on this technique. As we wrote in Alabama Stitch Book, the choice of color can add an element of character, which makes it a great way to experiment with color combinations and textures you might not have considered before.
(I also accused my dear friend Eva Whitechapel of whipping hers off from time-to-time for a bit of dusting.)
Happy Holiday Dusting…
RAG BOA, from page 128 of Alabama Stitch Book:
Two cotton-jersey T-shirts or cotton-jersey scraps in two different colors
Three pieces of pattern paper, one 9″ x 23″, one 7″ x 23″, and one 5″ x 23″ (for different paper options, see page 23)
Measuring tape or yardstick
Tailor’s chalk or disappearing-ink fabric pen
Coats and Clark button craft thread
1. Make Pattern
On your 9″ x 23″ piece of pattern paper, draw a line parallel to one long side, and label the line “Grain Line” and the rectangle itself “Boa Center.” Repeat this process with your 7″ x 23″ piece of pattern paper, labeling the line you add “Grain Line” and this rectangle “Boa Middle.” Repeat this process with your 5″ x 23″ piece of pattern paper, labeling the line you add “Grain Line” and this rectangle “Boa Outside.”
2. Prepare Fabric for Cutting
Deconstruct your two T-shirts as explained on page 48 so that you have a sleeveless tube of fabric that’s separated at the shoulder seams. Then cut each T-shirt tube from the bottom edge below the center of one armhole straight up to that center armhole, so the tube can open out flat as a single layer.
3. Cut Boa Center and Outside Pieces
Place your Boa Center pattern on top of the deconstructed T-shirt you want to use for the boa’s middle, or center, layer, making sure the pattern’s marked grain line and the T-shirt’s grain line (see page 48) run in the same direction. With tailor’s chalk, trace around your pattern’s edges, remove the pattern, and cut out your Boa Center, cutting just inside the chalked line to remove it entirely. Repeat the process to cut two more Boa Centers from this fabric.
Working with the same T-shirt fabric, repeat this process, using the pattern for the Boa Outside. Cut six Boa Outside pieces.
4. Cut Boa Middle Pieces
Place your Boa Middle pattern on top of your second deconstructed T-shirt, making sure that the pattern’s marked grain line and the T-shirt’s grain line run in the same direction.
With tailor’s chalk, trace around your pattern’s edges, remove the pattern, and cut out six Boa Middles, cutting just inside the chalked line to remove it entirely.
5. Assemble Boa Center
Place one Boa Center piece on your work surface, and overlap by 1″ one end of that piece with a second Boa Center piece.
Repeat at the opposite end with the third Boa Center, so the three Boa Centers make up one “continuous” 67″ x 9″ strip of cotton jersey (see the illustration at top right).
6. Add Boa Middle and Boa Outside
Repeat the above process, layering three Boa Middles on top of the Boa Centers, and then layering three Boa Outsides on top of the Boa Middles, staggering the positioning of the overlapping edges slightly on each different layer (see the illustration below).
Pin the layered pieces securely and turn the unit over to the other side. Repeat the layering process, adding and pinning as before, the Boa Middle and Outside pieces to the unit (see the cross-section illustration below of the layered boa ready for stitching).
7. Stitch Boa
Thread your needle, “love” your thread (see page 21), and knot off (see page 40). Begin stitching down the middle of one of the Boa Outsides, inserting your needle down through all the layers.
Bring your needle back up to the top and, using a straight stitch (see page 36), stitch straight down the center of the five layers.
Knot off after stitching to the opposite end of the boa.
8. Cut Fringe
Using your garment scissors, make a series of parallel cuts 1/2″ apart on one long edge of the boa through all five layers, stopping 1/2″ from your stitching line. Repeat this process on the opposite long edge.
9. Separate Fringe
Working outdoors or over an old sheet, shake your finished boa vigorously to separate the individual strands of fringe and remove the excess fibers the cutting process produced.