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Henry's Sweater
» photos: Stefanie Japel » model: Mazie

Treehugger Tutu

By Stefanie Japel

My daughter calls every dress, skirt, and skort a tutu. She LOVES tutus. The more they swirl around, the better. I named *this* tutu "treehugger" because it's made from all recycled materials! I used two large tshirts in similar shades of red to first create tshirt yarn by cutting each of my shirts into long, narrow strips and stretching the strips to create a pretty, tube-style yarn. Then, I used this yarn and two natural shell buttons to fashion this little top.


If you’re the grandparent or a family friend, simply ask the parents for the child’s chest measurement. If you don’t know or can’t get the child’s chest measurement, this page provides a chart of standard chest measurements for children and adults. The chart gives measurements without ease, so you’ll want to add .5 to 1 inch to these measurements in order to allow for growth and for wearing a shirt underneath.


To Create Yarn: You’ll need 2 or 3 (depending on the size of your child) old t-shirts (Adult size L to XL). I used 2 shirts to make the one shown in the pattern photos for my daughter, Mazie, who is 2 years old and has a chest measurement of 20.5 inches.

Recommended needle sizes

Needle size will depend on the weight of your yarn. I used a US #13 24 inch circular needle.


Two buttons of your choice
Darning needle for weaving in ends
Scissors for creating your yarn


Because it is difficult to match yarn weight from t-shirt to t-shirt and yarn maker to yarn maker, this pattern is written with GAUGELESS instructions. Rather than using a set of stitch counts, you use your child’s chest measurement to create a knit that is custom fit to your child.

Gauge will depend on the weight of your yarn and your needle of choice. I achieved approximately 2 sts and 2.5 rows per inch with my yarn and needles.


After creating your t-shirt yarn, work a gauge swatch (or several) to determine the appropriate needle size for your yarn. You want to use a needle that creates a fabric that feels like it would be comfortable to wear. The fabric should be pliable, but not have such an open weave that it appears lacy.

Pattern Notes

This little Tutu top is knit using UPcycled Tshirt yarn. The yarn is cut by hand from old Tshirts using the method described in the video accompanying my article in this issue of Petite Purls.

Skills Required

Picking up stitches,knitting in the round, increase stitches, yarn overs



Henry's Sweater


Cast on stitches to make chest band, and work in stockinette until the band is as long as the child’s chest measurement. I cast on 12 stitches, to make a band about 6 inches wide, and knit until the piece measured 21 inches long (1/2 inch longer than Mazie’s chest measurement.) Bind off.

Tip: For a younger child, make a narrower chest band; for an older child make a wider chest band.


With RS facing, pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows along one long edge of the chest band. 

Example: I knit my chest band to measure 21 inches long. This is about 52 rows. I picked up and knit 39 stitches along the chest band edge.

Here’s the math: 21 inches long x 2.5 rows per inch = 52.5 rows.

52 rows x ¾  or .75 = 39 stitches picked up along the edge.

Join to knit in the round. At first, you may have to use the Magic Loop or some other method to knit the skirt, but you’ll increase quickly so that the stitches fit nicely on the needle.

Knit 1 round. 

First YO round: (Knit 2, yo) to end. If you’ve got an odd number of stitches, you’ll need to increase one stitch at the end of this round in order for the stitch pattern to correctly end the round with 2 stitches between the first and last YOs.

Knit 2 rounds.

Next YO round: knit 1 (yo, knit 3) to last 2 sts, end knit 2. Depending on your stitch count, you may need to increase a stitch or two at the end of this round in order to make sure that you have 3 sts between the first and last YOs.

Knit straight until the skirt is approximately as long as the chest band is wide. (If you want to make your “Tutu Top” into a “Tutu Dress” knit to desired length.) 

Work in garter stitch for 5 rounds, bind off.

Henry's Sweater


Weave in ends.
Seam chest band for 1” at top of skirt.

Use 2 short lengths of yarn to make button loops and attach to chest band at opening.
Cut 6 lengths of yarn approximately 12 inches long. Using 3 strands per shoulder strap, braid yarn to create 2 straps. Attach straps to top edge of chest band, approximately 1 inch in from each side. I permanently attached one end, and just tied the other end to the band, tucking the extra length inside the dress. This makes the straps adjustable.

Attach 2 buttons.

Steam press if desired.

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Stefanie Japel

Stefanie Japel is the author of two books, Fitted Knits and Glam Knits and has been blogging since 1999. She has recently set up an Online Knitting Studio in which she teaches several classes including, "UPcycled Tshirt Yarn Class" "How to Fit Your Knits" and "Design Your Own Shawl" among others. Stefanie is also the work-at-home-mother of two little girls, Mazie (age 2) and Olive, who is just 3 weeks old.

Pattern & images © 2010 Stefanie Japel. Contact