T-shirt Upcycling 101

There are so many awesome t-shirts out there, but most of the time they are ill fitting.  I always find the best shirts in the men’s section, but don’t want to look like I throw on the first shirt I found. So, I decided I was going to start upcylcing shirts.  This means taking something new or old and making it into something better.

First, you will need to find a shirt.  Lots of great shirts can be found at your local thrift shop for less than a few dollars.  If you aren’t into vintage (old & preworn) shirts, check out the graphic tee section at your local Walmart or Target.  They have so many awesome shirts and $7.99 or less if they are on clearance.

When you find the shirt of your dreams, you will want to buy the largest size you can or at least 2x larger than your current fitted size.  The more shirt you have the more room there is ( and “fabric”) to work with.  Before you start, make sure you wash and dry your shirt and any fabric you will be using with it.  This will make sure all fabric is preshrunk.  Your t-shirt will have a different shrinkage % than your fabric and your seams will pull and create hole if you skip this step.  DON’T SKIP THIS STEP.

If you are new to knit fabric sewing, make sure you check out my article “Basic tips for sewing with knits” .

Take your shirt and lay it flat and even.  You are going to cut up the side seam – if there is no side seam, just cut up the side.
Continue up the sleeve seam.

Now open it up.  If you want to cut off the neck band, it does help a little.  The band is pulling the fabric slightly, so removing it will help your shirt lay a little flatter.  This is not a must.

That is basically it.  You can now use your giant tshirt just as you would fabric.

*Remember t-shirt fabric doesn’t stretch vertically (usually) and has little to no stretch horizontally (usually).  So before you decided on a pattern, make sure you check out the fabric your shirt is made of.


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