How to Easily Turn T-Shirts & Shirts Into Trendy Tops

Mset Fashion Design
by Mset Fashion Design
8 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make two different trendy casual tops. One is a tube top made from an old t-shirt and the other is a backless halter neck top from an old button-down shirt. These are both great ways to upcycle unused items from your wardrobe.

Tools and materials:

  • Old t-shirt
  • Old button-down shirt
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing elastic
  • Sewing machine (optional)
Old Minnie Mouse t-shirt

1. Upcycle an old t-shirt

Cut your old t-shirt horizontally under the arms and from the bottom, maintaining most of the pattern you want to preserve.

Double-folding the inside

Double-fold to the inside, and pin the top edge of the t-shirt fabric you will use.

Double-folding the hem

Repeat for the bottom edge.

Sewing the hems by hand

Sew both edges with a zigzag stitch either by hand or with a sewing machine. To see how I sewed a zigzag stitch by hand, follow the video from 1:09 to 1:29. Using a zigzag stitch will preserve the stretch of your fabric.

Leaving an opening for elastic

Leave a small opening on both edges for elastic.

Inserting elastic into the top and bottom

Insert elastic into both the top and bottom of your t-shirt.

Sewing the elastic ends together

Sew the ends of the elastic together.

Sewing the gaps closed

Sew the gaps closed with a zigzag stitch.

How to cut a shirt into a tube top

And here’s your new elasticized crop top all done. But wait! I’m going to make this even cuter!

Pinning elements to the crop top

If there are other graphic elements you want from the discarded t-shirt pieces, cut them out and pin them in place on your new crop top. 

Turning a t-shirt into a tube top

Then sew around the edges of the new elements to attach them to your crop top.

How to make a matching scrunchie

2. Make a matching scrunchie

From the discarded bottom of the old t-shirt, cut open one side seam and cut out a rectangle from the fabric.

Sewing along the open edge

Fold the rectangle in half with the right side facing in, and sew along the long open edge.

Inserting a piece of elastic

Turn the rectangle piece right-side-out and insert a piece of elastic that is about one-third the length of the rectangle. 

Pinning the end of the elastic

Pin the end of the elastic in place so it doesn’t get lost inside the rectangle, and then gather the rectangle fabric as you go.

Sewing the elastic ends together

Sew the ends of the elastic together.

Sewing the scrunchie

Fold the ends of the rectangle to the inside and then sew the two ends together.

DIY tube top and matching scrunchie

Here’s the finished crop top and scrunchie!

Upcycle an old men’s shirt

3. Upcycle an old men’s shirt

Mark 2 centimeters (0.78 inches) from the shirt collar along each shoulder.

Connecting the underarms

Draw a diagonal line to connect the underarms of the shirt to the shoulder mark on the same side.

Cutting off the sleeves

On the front of the shirt only, cut the shirt along those diagonal lines.

Cutting off the collar

On the back of the shirt, cut 2 centimeters (0.78 inches) below the collar of the shirt.

Cutting out the back

Now, on the back of the shirt only, cut the shirt horizontally below the underarms.

Turning a shirt into a halter top

This is what your shirt should now look like from the back.

Pinning the raw edges

Double-fold, pin and sew all of the raw edges of the shirt, leaving two small openings on each side just below the collar. 

Inserting elastic into the openings

Insert elastic starting at one of the openings, going down the side, around the back, and up the other side to the second opening, gathering the fabric as you go.

Sewing the elastic

Sew the elastic at the openings, and then sew the gaps closed.

Cutting off the sleeve

Cut the sleeve off of the unused part of your old shirt.

Cutting the sleeve fabric into rectangles

Cut the sleeve seam open and cut off the cuff. Then cut two equal-sized rectangles from the sleeve fabric.

Folding and sewing the rectangles

With the right side facing in, fold each rectangle in half lengthwise and sew along the long open edge of one rectangle. On the other rectangle sew the long open edge and one short edge.

DIY collar halter neck top

Turn both rectangles right-side-out. Snip a diagonal corner in the seam allowance from the rectangle with the sewn short edge before turning that one right-side-out.

Making a bow for the back

Lay the rectangle with both open short edges across the back of your shirt and fold and pin both ends to the middle. Then sew it to the shirt.

Pinning the bow to the back

With the other rectangle, lay it vertically down the back of your shirt, with the closed end at the bottom. Now fold in the edges of the open short end and pin it just inside the bottom of the collar. Then pin it on top of the small bow.

Sew that rectangle in place at the collar and on all fours sides where it crosses the bow.

DIY shirt upcycle

Turning t-shirts and shirts into trendy tops

Here is how the back looks.

Turning a shirt into a trendy top

And here is the front. That is quite a transformation from an old plain button-down shirt! I hope you give one of both of these trendy casual tops a try, and leave me a comment to let me know how they turned out for you.

Suggested materials:
  • Old t-shirt
  • Old button-down shirt
  • Ruler
See all materials

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Join the conversation
  • Roberta Roberta on Aug 30, 2022

    When reading the Title of your YouTube video, one would assume that there is NO SEWING involved in these 2 projects. LOLOLOLOL -- there is, in fact, quite a bit of sewing in both of them. What kind of click-bait title-ing are you playing at? Just tell the truth instead of taking the chance of angering your viewers.

    • Debra Debra on Sep 08, 2022

      The title in the video said "No Sewing Machine" not "No Sewing". Hand sewing with needle and thread of course.

  • Cwadle50 Cwadle50 on Aug 31, 2022

    How simple!! Love the detail on the back of the halter top! Good job!!