Easy Upcycle Tutorial: How to Alter a T-shirt

Enitan Agbabiaka
by Enitan Agbabiaka
8 Materials
2 Hours

Is your t-shirt too big? I thrifted this man's XXL size polo shirt. I love the colors but not the shape or style. But it's given me the opportunity to show you how to alter a t-shirt in a surprising way.

Instead of taking in the existing t-shirt and keeping the basic shape, I'm going to turn it into a completely different and fashionable woman's fitted t-shirt.

Tools and materials:

  • Oversized polo t-shirt
  • T-shirt as template
  • Seam ripper
  • Fabric marker
  • Ruler
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
Cutting out t-shirt

1. Cut out the new t-shirt

Use a seam ripper to undo the existing hem, to maximize the usable fabric.

Place a favorite t-shirt horizontally on the shirt, with the shoulders and hem at the side seams of the oversized shirt.

Cutting out t-shirt

Trace around the sides, back neckline, armholes and shoulders of the template shirt, adding a half-inch seam allowance.

Cut around the marked outline and straighten the lower edge.

Cutting out t-shirt

Fold the front in half lengthways, place the folded template t-shirt on top, and cut out the lower front neckline.


2. Neckband

Place the front and back together with the right sides facing, and join one shoulder seam only.

Fold your template t-shirt lengthways, matching the side seams.

Measure the length of the neckline from center front to center back and double it.


Cut a strip from the body of the excess shirt fabric, a ruler width in depth and the full neckline measurement in length.

Open out your new shirt so the neckline is lying flat.

Fold the strip in half along its length. Pin one edge to the neckline with the right sides together, matching the raw edges. Sew it in place.


Turn the strip to the inside to cover the raw edge and top stitch it.

Join the second shoulder seam.


3. Sleeves

Place the armhole of your t-shirt over the old shirt armhole and mark the depth on to the sleeve, adding a half-inch seam allowance.


Cut off the sleeve at the new mark and use it as a template to cut the other sleeve.


Open the sleeves out flat and pin them to the armholes of the new shirt along the curved edge. Sew them in place.


4. Finishing

Pin and sew the side and sleeve seams together, with the right sides facing.

Turn up a narrow double fold hem at the lower edge and sew it in place.


After: How to alter a t-shirt

How to alter a t-shirt

Wear your beautiful new fitted t-shirt! I'm over the moon with how this turned out. The vertical stripes are so much more flattering.

If you prefer a tank top shape, leave out the sleeves and turn in a narrow hem around the armholes instead.

Or, you could use a contrast bias tape around the neck edge and armholes. There are so many ways to adapt this and alter a t-shirt to suit your style.

I do hope you give this idea a try and let me know how you get on in the comments.

Next up, check out my post on How to DIY a Super Trendy Denim Jacket.

Suggested materials:
  • Oversized polo t-shirt
  • T-shirt as template
  • Seam ripper
See all materials

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