Jewish Journal

Clothing redux: T-shirt to tank top

by Julie Bien

October 16, 2013 | 10:33 am

No matter how little money I had in my bank account at my poorest post-grad school point (I was very, very broke) I always found myself with an abundance of oversized t-shirts. Out of a mix of necessity, craftiness, and caffeine-induced mania, I decided to teach myself how to repurpose and recycle clothing--all without a sewing machine.

Today, I present to you a super-easy way to turn a too-large t-shirt into a cute and fitted workout tank. This is perfect for all those free t-shirts that come your way via life (5ks, concerts, sports games, family, thrift-stores…)

First, you’ll need the following items (ignore the morning hair):

1. T-shirt (at least 1 size larger than you normally wear)

2. Pair of sharp scissors

3. Thread that matches your shirt

4. A needle

5. Straight pins or safety pins (about 10)

STEP 1. Lay the t-shirt flat and cut off the bottom hem (just above the line where it was hemmed by a machine.) Save this. It will be your straps.

STEP 2. Cut off the arms of the shirt, cutting just outside the hemmed edge of the armholes (you want to preserve the hem if possible so as to limit fraying.) You can discard these scraps or use them for another project.

STEP 3: Cut off the top of the shirt, from shoulder to shoulder, just under the collar. Discard the scraps.

Now you are left with these two pieces:

Put the strap aside for now…but it shan’t be lonely for long!

STEP 4: You're going to pin the raw edges of the top of the shirt. Tuck a flap of the shirt towards the inside of the shirt about 1.5 inches down. Then add pins across the length of it about ¼ inch from the raw edge. This will create the tube your strap will go through. Do this to both sides.

I apologize that I used black safety pins on a black shirt (it was all I had, and considering this project is about thrifting, it didn’t make sense to get a new shirt or safety pins.)

STEP 5: Using a basic running stitch (up and down through the material) you’re going to sew across the top of each side of the shirt, using the safety pins as your guide. You want to keep the hem at least ¼ inch from the bottom (to prevent fraying) but you also need enough room for the strap. It should look kind of like this:

STEP 6: After sewing both sides, you’re going to attach a safety pin to the edge of the strap. Fold the tip of the strap in half before pinning. It will make it easier to guide through the “tunnel” of fabric.

STEP 7: Now use the pin to guide the strap through. Start on one side, and take your time. You’ll probably have to bunch up the material a bit to get the strap through. That’s fine. Once you finish the first side, it should look like this:

STEP 8: Now you’re going to start sending the strap (with the pin still attached) through the back part of your shirt. This will create the first shoulder strap.

STEP 9: Gently tug the strap all the way through the back “tunnel” being careful not to pull the beginning end of it through the front of the shirt completely. You’ll definitely start having to bunch up your neckline material at this point, both front and back. Eventually, you’ll have it all the way through. Tie the ends together.

STEP 10: ALMOST DONE! Toss the shirt on, and adjust the bunching of the collar and back until the straps are comfortable, and you like how it looks. VOILA! You now have a cute new workout tank from a large, frumpy (albeit probably super-comfy) t-shirt.

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Hi. I’m Julie Bien.

I’m a writing, blogging, coffee-drinking machine.

I also have a thing for sustainability, organic gardening, cooking, and easy crafting. I’m like Martha...

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