One of the most common articles of clothing that I own is a t-shirt. I get them from clubs and sports, from school basketball games, and volunteering events. I have more t-shirts than any other piece of clothing, period. The nice thing about t-shirts though, besides their strange ability to never get too small, is their recyclability. For all the t-shirts I do grow out of, my mom can easily give them away to other people without worrying too much about size or style. And for the more memorable shirts, she has a collection that she will someday make into a quilt that I can use with my own kids in the future.
But with summer upon us, and an abundance of t-shirts at my disposal, there is still one more ‘recycling’ technique that we can pull out of our ‘fashion hat’: cutting. Or tying, if that’s more your style. As it finally gets warm enough to feel like summer, it’s nice to be able to have some fashionable but sturdy shirts to adorn your wardrobe. I’ve prepared myself with four simple fashions to start my summer season that you can try at home!
The Basic Cut:
This is the simplest and easiest style to make t-shirts cover just a little less. This style works best for making shirts into new workout gear or swimsuit covers.
- Step 1- Lay the t-shirt you wish to cut out on an flat surface. Be sure to smooth it out so that the front and back of the shirt are even.
- Step 2- Cut off the hem and collar of the shirt. This step is optional; I chose to take these pieces off because I think it looks better, but it is all a matter of opinion.
- Step 3- Using a fitted shirt (I used a camisole), measure out where your cuts are going to be. This is an important step because if you don’t use a shirt that fits you to help you make your measurements you could potentially end up with a shirt that too small or too big. In this style, it’s not as detrimental if you cut it a little too much, but for later styles, it is important to keep this step in mind.
- Step 4- Now it’s time to cut. If you drew on you shirt like I did, make sure you cut the markings off the shirt (if you used something that won’t come off in the wash). Be sure to try your new shirt on and, if it’s not quite to your liking, you can always cut it some more. I chose to cut the whole sleeve off of this shirt, make the remaining sleeves on my shoulders smaller and cut into the sides so that I can jog in this shirt even when it’s hot outside. You can follow my style or create your own, it’s that easy!
This style is a bit trickier. It is better to use shirts that are a bit too big on you as it does tighten the shirt when finished.
Steps 1 & 2- These steps are taken from the first style. For every shirt you cut, it is important to make sure it is flat and smoothed out. You can also choose to keep your hem and collar if desired. If your shirts are too long, cutting off the hem and a bit more at the end is a quick way to shorten a shirt to fit better.
Step 3- Using the camisole again, mark where you would like to cut. I am cutting the sleeves and a bit on the bottom of the shirt as well. You also need to mark where the camisole lays on the shirt. You don’t want to cut so far into the shirt that, when tied, is too tight. This is where it is important to remember your camisole.
Step 4- I find it easier to do the easy parts first (makes sense). I always cut off the sleeves and bottom before I start in on the sides of the shirt. This is also optional, but I find it helpful if I’m only working with the parts of the shirt that I already want.
Step 5- Before we get to tying the shirt, we must create the things we are tying. On each side of the shirt, cut a slit through both sides to the line that you marked with the camisole. Each slit should be about a half and inch to an inch apart (you can decide what size works better for your style). Once both sides have been cut, it is time to tie. I first like to go through and cut each slit in half along the fold of the slit (where the back and front of the shirt meet). After you have separated all the slits, start from the top, where your armpit is, and tie each pair of slits together. Work your way down, making double knots so that they won’t come apart, and then continue on the other side until both sides of the shirt have been tied together. If you don’t like the ties to be visible, like the shirt at the top of this post, you can turn your shirt inside out before starting this step. Then when you are finished, just turn it right side out again and the fringe on your shirt will be hidden!
The Slit Back:
This style is my favorite style out of them all. This simple cutting style can both cool you off this summer and tighten a loose shirt for a fun, fantastic new style.
- Steps 1, 2, 3 & 4- These first four steps will mirror the first four steps in the first style I showed you. In this new style, I have also cut off the sleeves and some shirt at the bottom. However, after you cut off your sleeves and bottom (if you so desire to do so), you’re going to want to turn the shirt over to mark the backside, not the front. Just put some dots along your camisole so you know where the fitted shirt lays in comparison to the t-shirt, but make sure that your markings are on the backside.
- Step 5- This step has two separate parts; you’re first going to change the way that the shirt is laying on the floor. Grab the middle of the shirt at the collar and at the bottom and pull it upwards. Now when you lay it back on the floor, the shirt should be smoothed out sideways. Then, you’re going to cut slits into the shirt the same way you did for the tied shirt; make sure your slits go up to your markings that you made and that they are between a half an inch and an inch in width. Once you’ve completed those two parts, unfold your shirt back out to its original form.
- Step 6- This particular step is optional; in doing this step you can effectively tighten a large shirt to fit you better. If your shirt is not very big on you, I would suggest doing the first part, but not continuing on to the second part. The first thing you’re going to do is stretch out all of the strips of fabric that you cut in the last step. This makes for a cleaner looking finish. Now if your shirt fits you right, you can stop right here and wear it as you will. However if your shirt is too big (as they usually are), now is a good time to tighten it up. To do this, we’re going to ‘tie’ slits in the back to form something that will eventually look like a braid. You will first take the top strip of fabric and twist it into a loop. Next, take the strip directly below it and pull it through your first loop. Now take the new strip that you just pulled through the loop and twist it into a new loop. Repeat this process all the way down to the end of the shirt. Once you have reached your last strip, instead of creating another loop, you’re going to cut the strip in half and tie each end back onto itself to keep the braid in place. Pull the sides of your shirt to tighten the loops. You can create a single braid or use many braids depending on how lose your shirt is. Once you’ve finished, you’re free to wear it around as you like!
This style is another easy one, but it takes a lot more time than the basic cut. If you’re looking for a style that’s fun and frilly and cropped to perfection, the fringe top is your ideal cut.
- Steps 1 & 2- Start off this style like any other; lay flat and cut off the collar and hem. It is up to you what you do with the sleeves. If you decide not to cut them off, I suggest cutting the hem off of them as well.
- Step 3- Cut up the sides of your shirt as high as you would like your fringe to be. Once you’ve cut on both sides, start on the front of the shirt and cut your fringes about a half an inch to an inch in length. After the front is done, without moving the shirt, move the fringe away and do the same thing to the back of your shirt.
- Step 4- Make sure to go through and stretch out all of the fringes as shown to make it look less sloppy.
I hope that you can use some of these styles this summer on your own t-shirts or even experiment with your own creative styles! Either way, I hope you enjoyed!!