T-Shirt Makeovers


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by Sara Snuggerud in Projects, Sewing Tips

T-Shirt Makeovers Pinterest Board

Ever since I became a Pinterest fan I’ve been collecting DIY T-shirt reconstruction ideas. Knowing that in the future a Sewtopia club topic will come from all my pinning. If I could I would say thank you to all the Pinterest people who have inspired this month’s (June 2013) lecture. So, how many different ways can T-Shirts can be turned into, changed, altered, manipulated, distorted, modified, remodeled and reconstructed?

After putting a call out for unwanted T-shirts, and multiple bags later, I found myself sitting in the middle of a pile surrounded by colorful knits of all shapes and sizes. Next I started printing off my Pinterest tutorials and assigning them to each of the T-shirts. I knew I wanted to make an outfit for me to also wear at the Sewtopia sewing club. Since I had four purple T-shirts, the most of any color, this became the starting point of my skirt.

The tiered skirt I wanted to do freeform like the original designer had shown on her blog. No pattern, no measuring, no marking. Just a couple T-shirts and a dressform was all that was needed. After making the base with a extra-large T-shirt, I started cutting one third donut shaped curves out of the T-shirts. After realizing one of the purple shirts had something fun on the back, I decided on a way to incorporate it as an element into the front of the skirt. Thank you to the Sioux Falls Outdoor Campus for their “Carpe Noctem” (meaning seize the night) accent that got added to the lower part of the skirt.

Other Heirloom Creations’ team members helped out with the super easy scarves and flowers. They too quickly realized how quick it was to chopped up T-shirts, stretch them out and twist them up into so many different ways!

I did hit a local second-hand store to find a few extra T-shirts to add to my collection. I looked for both color and neckline shapes to add a few of the selected details I wanted to show. It probably looked funny as I picked out T-shirts that had no relevance to my size or style when I left the store. But for $1-$2 T-shirts, I was going to cut them up anyway.

I did find how little I needed to do these T-shirt projects. I barely used in iron and mostly free-willed my scissors and rotary cutter across the T-shirts. It was actually quite freeing to complete these projects.

Bernina artista pintuck butterflies

My mom even had to jump in to the act with her fancy T-shirts. She is always known for extra embellishments around a simple T-shirt neckline. (See “Butterflies Are Free” below with directions at the end of this blog). From adding pintucks, decorative stitches and a hint of embroidery, her T-shirts never looked like a plain old T-shirt. The times she removed the standard ribbing neckline, she uses a strip of wonder under to fuse in the new neckline. It helps stabilize as well as prevent stretching while stitching.

The joys of working with stretch fabrics are really not that hard when you use a ballpoint needle and a walking foot.  So next time you have a T-shirt that doesn’t fit right, what do you have to lose if you were to take a pair of scissors and start cutting into it? I bet you even have T-shirts hanging in your closet right now that still have the tags on them. If you really don’t like them, let’s try to jazz them up with one of these many different reconstructive ideas.

Please visit Heirloom Creations’ Pinterest board for other T-shirt makeovers that I did not do.  (I didn’t want this to be a three-hour lecture!)


By Carol Meyer


  • Crew neck Tee shirt
  • Stitch witchery tape ¾” wide, or cut your own strips from yardage.
  • 5-groove pintuck foot for your machine
  • Stretch single needle, and stretch double needle 2.5
  • 2 spools of Isacord, rayon or other pretty thread (or wind an extra bobbin for the second needle)
  • Fabric marker that disappears


  1. Cut ribbing off of shirt as close as possible to the seam. This will make a nice scoop neck. The neckline gets bigger when it is folded under and can easily get too big if you cut too much off.
  2. Sew Stitch witchery on inside of shirt around neck, matching the cut edge of the neckline with one straight side of the tape. Sew in the middle of the tape. Use the Stretch needle.
  3. Clip the stitch witchery tape on both sides of the stitch line all the way around the neck.
  4. Fold and press around the neckline so that the stitched line is inside the neck line and does not show on the outside.
  5. Use a decorative stitch to top stitch around the neck edge. No need to use stabilizer; the stitch witchery makes it stabile for the decorative stitches.
  6. Change to the Double needle and thread machine with two threads.
  7. Measure and mark lines if pintucks are to be spaced evenly from the neckline, or follow a pre-planned pattern, OR sew them randomly for a free-form design. Think butterfly trails!
  8. OPTIONAL: Add embroidery design enhancements.
  1. sandy luke says:

    great idea sara keep them coming

  2. Alice says:

    Can you do a video that can add extra fullness to the hip area of a T shirt. Most T shirts are to big in the bust area but too small in the hip area. Would like ideas to fix hoping to make it a design idea not an afterthought? Thanks.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Alice, May I recommend the awesome fitting classes offered by professional fitting teachers via Craftsy. Here is a link to a few of my favorites:

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