As a beginner in the world of sewing you’re probably looking for simple projects where you can make something new to wear or something attractive for your home. It’s a good way to get in some practice while still producing something useful. There are lots of such projects where you need very few sewing skills to get started. If you happen to know someone who does dirty work he or she will appreciate your new sewing skills because you can easily make throwaway clothing items that will make their job easier and much less messy.
As a part-time plumber’s helper I was never the one who crawled under the houses or who had to dig in the mud. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen my boss wallowing in a puddle of who-knows-what. It’s often a thankless job that ruins hundreds of dollars worth of clothes every year. If you know someone who does similar work, jobs where they will be getting muddy or dirty, you might want to consider practicing your sewing skills while making disposable clothing items. It only takes a minute to make each item so you won’t have a lot of time invested in something disposable.
Throwaway sleeves are a big help for someone who has to reach into muddy areas. Why ruin a whole shirt when you’ll just be getting dirty up to your elbows? In addition to that, in summer months, it’s just too hot to wear long sleeves all day. With disposable sleeves you can slide them on and off as necessary. You can make disposable sleeves that can help protect the worker’s clothing and can simply be tossed in the trash when the job is done. Old button-down shirts work well for this. Use stained shirts, shirts with tears, or office shirts that are no longer looking their best. Cut the sleeves off and rework them to suit the task.
Lay the shirt out flat and cut the sleeves, straight across, just below the underarm seam. Use quarter-inch elastic around the cut area to hold the sleeves on the worker’s arms. You don’t have to be any sort of expert at sewing to attach the elastic. Just position the end of the elastic against the seam of the shirt sleeve and sew around the cut area of the material. Stay about a half-inch away from the very edge as you sew. You don’t have to fold the fabric under and make a finished edge; it’s okay if the raw edge of the sleeve shows. Stretch the elastic a little, as you’re sewing it in, to make sure it gathers well. Use an ordinary straight stitch rather than a zig-zag. If the fabric is some that unravels easily you can opt to fold it under to make a finished edge or you can even treat it with a no-fray solution. You’ll find the liquid at craft and fabric stores.
The finished sleeves can protect workers from being covered in dirt, mud, spider webs and other icky situations. In addition, the sleeves allow you to wear them only when needed rather than burning up on a hot day while wearing long sleeves. The sleeves can be discarded after they’ve gotten dirty or you can launder them and use them when needed. It’s much better to slip on the sleeves when you need them than it is to walk around in a stained shirt because you don’t want to ruin a good one.
Another helpful, disposable garment you can make is perfect for keeping mud, insects and dirt out of the hair. Simply cut short sleeves from t-shirts that are ruined. That’s all you have to do. Choose shirts that have roomy sleeves and cut them off of the shirt. Now slide the cuff edge of the sleeve over the head, move the hair out of the way, if necessary, then pull the sleeve up and over the hair. This head cover is perfect for people who have to crawl under a house or even for those cleaning a long-neglected basement.
Some helpful tips: if you don’t wear large t-shirts, and therefore can’t use your old shirt sleeves as head covers, look for cheap, large shirts at yard sales and rummage stores. Stained shirts are often sold for a few cents and are perfect for making the head covers. Also, if you don’t have any long sleeve shirts you can find them at used garment stores, too. Button-down shirts work well but you can also use sleeves from sweatshirts. The pant legs from jogging suits also make great disposable pant legs. Just sew the elastic in around the top edges of the cutoff pant legs and throw them away – or reuse them – after you’re finished with the dirty work.
As you continue practicing your sewing skills you’ll get better and better at it. Soon, you’ll be able to meet any challenge when it comes to sewing. Until then, practice on small jobs that won’t require large investments. The disposable sleeves and hats is one of those perfect jobs for getting in some practice while making something really useful!