Quick Fingerless Gloves: Upcycle

It is Spring Musical time again . . . and I am working on costuming our local production of ” Disney’s High School Musical”.  Let’s just say . . . I am already sick of red and white!  Go Wildcats!

In the opening number we will have a mini-marching band as part of the back-to-school celebration.  I found a fun costume, so we added a “twirler”/dancer, because, well, why not?  Her costume is accented with black, but it has white/silver sparkles, so I think it will be fine for this cameo appearance.  I wanted to add a little more bling to her outfit, and sparkly gloves seemed to be a good idea.  (She won’t really use a baton, so I’m not concerned about that).

Fingerless gloves are fairly easy to make.  Basically find a you just need a tube of somewhat stretchy fabric that extends from the base of your fingers to however high you want it to reach.  This particular commercial glove from an old dance costume measures 3.75″ across (folded) at the hand end, and 5” across at the upper end.  The seam is sewn leaving a gap for the thumb.  The seam runs along the inner arm.basic fingerless glove

You can use a similar tube and add an elastic loop to fit around the middle finger for a different look.  Depending on the fabric, you can either leave the end straight, or cut it at an angle–placing the seam where ever it makes sense for your desired look.  (For example, streamers, fringe or feathers hanging from the arms need the seam on the outer or underarm).

I started with a sparkly tank top.  The shirt had two layers, a stretch soft black knit lining, and a sequin mesh outer layer.  The fabrics had a modest two-way stretch.  The tank top had a band at the bottom.  In the picture below I have already deconstructed the shirt.  I cut the back off, leaving the side and shoulder seams intact.  I lay the shirt together and carefully cut it on the fold, making sure to stay between the vertical lines of sequins (to help prevent fraying).

shirt front deconstructed and divided in half on the center front fold

My original intention was to add a row of sparkly sequin fringe to the bottom of the glove.  To check for fit, I ran a row of basting stitches along my seam to test for fit.  At this point, I realized the sequins would be really scratchy.  I also realized that the underarm seam and the center front length were different.

difference in length of two sides of new seam

At this point, I decided to ditch the fringe idea, and I looped the shoulder strap around and realized I could attach it to the nice little gap there at the top.

just enough space to attach the strap

I removed the basting thread and stay-stitched the mesh to the lining on the old center front.  I tried to keep the sequins away from the edge enough to prevent scratching.


Next I sewed the strap to the top of the seam, lined up the rest and stitched it together using a wide zig-zag. I made sure the line up the band seam so that the top of the glove would be even.


The inside was still a bit scratchy, and I didn’t feel like taking the time to trim out all the little sequin bits.  I cut some strips out of the discarded back and bound the seam in the extra fabric.   (If the shirt had not had the band on the bottom, I may have had to do something on the top edge if it were too scratchy).


And they are done.


These are a bit wrinkly at the wrist but this could easily be adjusted by tapering the seam if desired.  The strap is a bit bulk, but again, for my purpose, it is fine.  I like the sequins on the hand side, and if my cast member does hand movements, the sequins will hopefully shine.


If you wanted a better fit, you could cut the strap off at an appropriate length and add an elastic loop.  You could also try cutting a slit in the fabric do it went over the middle finger instead of between the fingers.


It also works reasonably well to loop the strap around the thumb.

Is this a good way to make gloves?  Well, that depends.  For an adult, to go from the base of the fingers to the elbow will be in the approximate range of 12″, which means you need 1/3-1/2 yard, depending on how long your arms are and how high up you want the gloves to go.  My shirt front yielded one pair of gloves.  I could make them quickly, because I went to my local thrift store, found the shirt, and made the gloves.  They cost me just under $3.  However, if you need to make multiples, a yard of 60″ wide stretch sequin fabric can be purchased for $10-15 (+ s/h or gas).  So, for one pair of gloves, this was a reasonable way to go and I had very little waste.    If I needed to make multiple pairs, or matching pairs, I would just buy the fabric.

Going for a different look?  You just need something with enough stretch to go over your hand.  Stretch lace, velour, t-shirt knit, fleece, etc would all work to make gloves.  Many stretchy fabrics don’t fray, so that is an added bonus.  If adding embellishments, it will probably be easier to add them before sewing up the seam, and don’t forget not to add things that will prevent the fabric from stretching.

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