Tshirts. We all have one. What am I saying, we all have at least a dozen. Printed with crazy messages, in both bold and neutral colours, we have t-shirts for the gym, t-shirts for work, t-shirts for gardening, t-shirts for dinner parties… there are very few things that one can’t do wearing a t-shirt.
In the late 19th century, the first to adopt the cotton undergarment were miners. Soon after it became popular among workers in various industries: it was easy to make, inexpensive, fast to clean and easy to fit. The great break-through moment of the t-shirt came with Marlon Brando and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Today they’re crazy popular because they’re so basic, so cheap, so… wait for it, easy to cut, chop, hack, customize and turn into completely new garments.
They’re so many ways in which one can repurpose a t-shirt, from simple crops, to adding paint and major t-shirt surgery projects, I’ve made a list of the awesomest, most original t-shirt reconstruction hacks out there. Enjoy and feel free to leave the link in the comments if you’ve seen the awesomest t-shirt hack ever and I missed it.
Slashing, braiding, knotting
1. The Braided Neckline Tee
This is seriously clever how Kira figured out how to turn a plain tee into a super cute braided neckline tee. Tutorial here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130906202903/http://www.hernewleaf.com/2011/07/21/diy-banana-republic-braided-neck-tee-shirt/
2. The Braided Back T-shirt
This tshirt surgery looks so easy to make: slice the back 0f the t-shirt, then braid everything toghether. Full tutorial here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.es-toyaqui.com/2011/06/heres-how-diy-braided-back-shirt.html
3. Knotted t-shirt
Another similar t-shirt hack can be done by using a combination of braids and knots, creating a sort of fisher’s net. Idea from here:https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.theyallhateus.com/cheeky/
4. Turn an old tee into a scarf
I really like this refashion from PS I made this It’s super simple and a fun way to give an old tee some new love. You could even experiment with paint and tie die before you cut the t-shirt.
5. Tshirt to Grocery Bag
I can’t see going through too many washes, but if you have a tshirt you are thinking of thowing away, give it a longer life by turning it into a grocery bag. Cut off the sleeves, stitch closed the bottom hem and make lot of small cuts into it for both handles and the net-like design. Idea from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://deliacreates.blogspot.fi/2011/05/greeneasy-knit-produce-bag.html
6. The Shredded T-shirt/Poncho
There is some crazy shredding going on here, but I guess one could try it at least once in their lifetime and see what happens. Idea from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.etsy.com/listing/126239894/womens-shredded-tshirt-braided-shredded
7. The Triangle Slash and Braid T-shirt
And another one from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=315790.0#axzz2NphE8EnT
Ruffles and bows
8. One Sleeve Ruffled T-shirt
Cut of one sleeve; slice it into thick fabric strips and attach back on the main tshirt as ruffles. From here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://psimadethis.com/post/660172583/we-are-all-giddy-and-ruffling-our-feathers-to-kick
9. The Ruffled Cardigan
Do you have a long sleeve t-shirt you’re not wearing anymore? Turn it into a cardigan by slashing open the front piece of your tee and adding ruffles to the sides. You can add buttons or completely skip them. Idea and tutorial from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.favecrafts.com/Shirts/Ruffled-Cardigan-from-Fiskars/ct/1#
10. Tiny Ruffles Tee
If the ruffles are very tiny like the ones in this project, I think I could live with them: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://tearosehome.blogspot.com.es/2010/07/for-shirt-for-ways-dark-green.html
11. Small Neckline Faux Ruffle Tee
Even though it looks like this tshirt is adorned with ruffles, it’s actually made out of jersey circles sewn together on the neckline. Tutorial here:https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://sarahndipities.blogspot.com.es/2010/09/how-to-tuesday-fun-fabric-flowers.html
12. The colorblock tshirt
This looks a bit more complicated but it isn’t at all. You only need two or three tshirts to mix and hack and a sewing machine (or a needle and a bit of patience).
Not that you needed this explanation, but this is one way you could cut it:
Other colorblocking variations:
13. The Geometric Colorblock
I love how this old t-shirt project turned out. Extra points because she‘s on her way to become a pattern designer: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://onlythesmall.blogspot.com.es/2012/06/puzzling-shirt.html
14. The Contrasting Sleeves Tee
And check out this one: sleeves in two colours and a contrasting neck binding: lovely. From here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://pinterest.com/pin/89368373826734454/
And if we’re still colorblocking, what about making a dress? Love how this one turned out.
15. The Little Black Dress T-shirt
Turn a simple black xxl shirt into a cute LBD – just adorn the sleeves with a striped knit. You can read the tutorial here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://blog.lulalouise.com/2012/07/diy-colorblock-t-shirt-dress.html
16. The Striped Dress
Take two tshirts, a white one and a dark blue one (or any colour you like), cut strips from both of them, then sew them toghether. Add an elastic waist. Photo from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://cottonandcurls.blogspot.com.es/2011/01/day-28-seeing-stripes.html
17. Colorblock Maxi Cropped Tshirt
Take an xxl white tshirt and crop it just below your waistline. Add a strip of contrasting fabric to the bottom edge and you’re done. From here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.chicwish.com/color-block-aztec-loose-t-shirt.html
Open Back Tees
18. Open back bow tee
Make a cut into the backside of a tee, just above your ribcage. Hem separately. Using another piece of fabric turn the upper part of the tee into a bow.
19. Another version of the bow back tee
For this one, I suggest using a tshirt one or two sizes bigger. First add the bow in the back and make sure it fits, then you can take it in from the sides so it doesn’t look baggy in the front. Photo source: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://delias.com/
20. The 3 bows in a row tshirt
Are you into cropped tshirts? I am not sure myself, but this tee is so cute. Cut the lower part of the tee and make three bows. Then sew them to the back of the tee. Photo source: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://delias.com/
21. The floral panel t-shirt
Kerry has a very cool idea: turn two t-shirts into a new one. I think an easier way to do this is to cut out the front panel of a t-shirt and switch fabrics so you end up with two new t-shirts instead of one.
22. Open Back Tshirt
I love this idea from Cotton and Curls. Leave a striped tshirt as it is on front and add some pzazz! to the back. You can do this by making a cut on the back side of your tshirt immediately above your waist. Hem the opening. On the top part add a few buttons in a contrasting colour and on the bottom part of the opening add an elastic. Super cute!
23. Neckline Bow T-shirt
Use a long sleeve tshirt or an extra large one to make the bow for this one. I think you could also do this in a contrasting fabric. From here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://icandyhandmade.blogspot.com.es/2011/04/tutorial-emma-pillsbury-t-shirt.html
24. Paint it colorblock style
Use tape to deliminate the areas you are going to paint on. Use fabric paint or acrylics mixed with a fabric medium, paint, set with a hot iron and enjoy. From here.
Misc Tshirt Hacks
25. The tshirt pillowcase
Texture and grunge
28. Plain white tshirt to cool grunge top
Who knew a boring white tshirt can be transformed into a cool top in less than 10 minutes? Make a 4 inches diagonal cut into the ribbed collar of the tee, then make random tight, horizontal pleats from place to place. Tuck a sleeve in and you’re done. Idea and photo from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.stylecovered.com/2009/05/20/stylecovered-tutorial-diy-t-shirts/
29. Textured Tshirt
Very similar to the idea above, this textured tshirt surprises with its man shirt inspired front pleats. The messier they are, the better. Make sure you start with a tshirt 2 or 3 sizes larger than the one you wear for this tshirt. Tshirt surgery from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.supernaturale.com/articles.html?id=263
30. The neck tie tshirt
To make this tshirt you will need a necktie. Just sew it onto the cleavage, starting from the middle of the cleavage and working your way up to the other side, pleating the necktie as you go. Ad a pin and you’re done. Tshirt hack idea and photo from here:https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://mckells-closet.blogspot.com.es/2011/08/ruffle-necktie-tee-tutorial.html
31. The contrasting pocket t-shirt
Want to turn a simple white t-shirt into an eye catching top? Sew on a small pocket in a contrasting fabric. If you’re really bold, try a piece of leather, floral prints or even draw the pocket on with sharpie pens. Image from Pinterest.
32. The Pick-a-boo sleeve Tshirt
This tshirt from Delias is so cute! You only need to slash you tee’s sleeve, remove 2 cm of fabric (this is why it’s called tshirt surgery and use the strip of fabric to create a bow-like knot.
33. Plain white t-shirt to cute peplum tank top
If you’re still unsure about the peplum top (like me:), then a large white t-shirt is one if those things you can allow yourself to experiment with. Either start with a lace tank top and add a peplum from a white tshirt you’re not loving at the moment or size the tshirt to a tank top and then add the ruffly peplum. Idea from Alloy.
34. Vintage Hankies Peter Pan Collar Tank Top
I love Suzannah’s idea of using vintage hankerchiefs to make petter pan collars for her basic tank tops. They look so sweet! Full tutorial on her blog, Adventures in Dress Making: https://web.archive.org/web/20130627052529/http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/search/label/tutorial?updated-max=2010-06-03T10:13:00-07:00&max-results=20#.UX2PpCtsPjA
35. Lace Insert Tank Top
This lace insert tank top from Astars is so beautiful and yet so easy to make. Just unpick the lateral seams of your tank top or tshirt and sew in a trapeze-shaped lace piece. And voila, a new romantic, feminine top.