T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

Learn the building blocks of refashioning and make some great looking T-shirts.

Let’s face it, there are some things we just tend to hoard – like T-shirts, right? If you’re feeling the need to attack that pile in your rework stash, we’ve got some great tips and techniques for you. You can mix and match our six refashioning building blocks to add all kinds of style to some of your old favorites. You’ve held on to them for a reason, so why not turn them into great fitting, super cute tops that you can’t wait to wear? 

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques


T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

This is often the problem: T-shirts that are boxy, bulky and just plain blah. Here are six techniques that you can use to add some trendy details, plus better shape and fit to your T-shirts.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 1: Add gathers with elastic. This technique comes into play when you want to shorten a T, make it more fitted, or just to add detail. You can add gathers anywhere – the most popular place is on the sides.

The how-to: 1) tack clear elastic in place, 2) use a zigzag stitch to sew elastic, stretching the elastic as you sew, 3) what the elastic looks like when sewn in place on the inside of the T-shirt.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

This is what the gathers look like on the outside of your T-shirt. This is a fantastic technique for making shirts more form fitting and flattering.

Be sure to learn more about choosing the right elastic for various sewing projects, and check out all of our elastics info here on the blog.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 2: Change a hem or neckline with Stitch Witchery® tape – it’s a fusible bonding web that you iron on to create a no-sew hem. Use this technique to shorten a T, or change up the sleeves or neckline (give it a scoop, make it wider/deeper, etc.). It’s washable!

Watch this quick video to see how easy it is to apply.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 3: Encase a raw edge with fold-over elastic – it’s a super easy way to finish a neckline, hem or any other raw edge that you have cut on your T. Simply fold the elastic over the edge of your fabric (the elastic has a handy centering line) and stitch in place using a zigzag stitch. You’re done!

There are many colors available; see more detailed sewing tips, plus other projects using fold-over elastic.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 4: Use hardware to add details, and mimic popular T-shirt trends. Since tied Ts are so of-the-moment, we used D-rings to add a twist tie to the bottom of this T, shortening it, and making it more fitted.

The how-to: 1) cut slit and seal hem stitches with Fray Check®, 2) slide 2 D-rings onto 1 tail, 3) fold fabric around D-rings and stitch to secure, 4) loop other tail through D-rings to create tie.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 5: Create precise cuts by measuring accurately. Take the time to do this! It’s easy to dive in and just start cutting, but we promise you, your finished T-shirt will look so much nicer if your cut lines, cut-outs, etc., are evenly placed and cut straight.

The Omngrid® 3-1/2″ x 24″ ruler is a good basic ruler to have on-hand for this purpose because the numbers run in both directions. Use it in combination with a marking pen.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

Here’s another example of accurate measuring … you can use the Dritz® curve ruler to take a plain old neckline, and give it a deeper scoop. Notice how nice and even the scoop is? Again, don’t forget the marking pen.  

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

BUILDING BLOCK TECHNIQUE 6: Add eyelets & grommets for lacing – they reinforce the openings for the lacing to pass through and provide a big punch of style. There are many sizes and finishes to choose from – the looks you can achieve are limitless!

The how-to: 1) mark placement of eyelets, 2) cut holes for eyelets, 3) install eyelets using either a hand tool or eyelet pliers (type of tool required depends on eyelet you choose). 

T-Shirt Refashioning: Six Must-Know Techniques

Finish it off by weaving the lacing through the eyelets. (We used material from the sleeves we cut off. You can also use other fabric, ribbon, etc.) Check out these illustrated instructions for more application details. We have many more projects using grommets and eyelets that might inspire you, as well as other refashioning ideas.

T-Shirt Refashioning: Best Ts

So … here are some of our remakes – what do you think? Got some ideas for that stash of Ts? We sure hope so!

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This entry was posted in how to sew and tagged 30min or less, elastic, FOE, grommets/eyelets, refashioning. Bookmark the permalink.