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DIY T-Shirt Tank Top | Ways to Cut a T-Shirt into a DIY Tank

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Last spring, one of the most fun, useful things I wrote about was how to transform a too big tee into a racerback t-shirt without sewing. This spring found me with a much-loved shirt that was too long and far too v-necked for me. It was a gift from my man, so I didn’t want to get rid of it, but I also couldn’t really wear it. After cutting it up and redesigning it, it’s perfect for a trip to the beach or the gym! This method of cutting a t-shirt into a tank top is very different from my other tutorial and results in a shirt that’s a bit more fitted. I hope you enjoy this DIY T-shirt tank top tutorial!

Tank top from a cut tee This DIY t-shirttank top is a fantastic way to cut down shirts that are too long or too wide, and even shows you how to raise that neck line a little. You’re already seen the finished product, here’s what I started with:

Too big shirt waiting to be fixed

This shirt says it’s a small, but it seemed more like a small dress than a shirt!

 How to Make the Cut Up Tee Tank Top

1. Fold your t-shirt in half, lengthways, and line the bottom/sides up as closely as possible.


2. If it’s too long, cut off a few inches of length. Be careful – cut off less material than you think is necessary! Cut t-shirts always roll up a bit, and tying it along the sides later will cause it to pull up a bit more. You can always cut more material off, but you can’t add it back on!


3. Cut off the sleeves. This is easiest to do if you cut along the bottom seam and then around the inside of the seam. Trying to cut the whole thing off at once usually results in a strange appearance because it is difficult to line the sleeves up perfectly to cut along the original seam’s curve.


t-shirt tank

4. Carefully cut up one side of the T-shirt, cutting it all the way from the bottom edge up to where the sleeve was attached. Then, cut the old seam completely free, as shown. Leaving it in place will make tying knots more difficult and will look silly, too.



5. If you shirt is far too wide, you can cut away a couple extra inches of fabric along the side, as needed. Unless it is really way to wide, I wouldn’t worry about this, though, because you can adjust the depth of the cuts in the following step to take the shirt in.

6. Align the shirt’s edges again and make little cuts all the way up the shirt’s side, cutting through both thicknesses at once. My shirt wasn’t terribly too wide, so I made cuts that were only about an inch deep. You can make the cuts as close together or as far apart as you would like, but I like making cuts that are about 1/3″ – 1/2″ apart. When you’re cutting, remember that you can always go back and make the cuts deeper if you need to take the shirt in more, but you can’t put the cut fabric back together again!

Yep, I got a little excited on one side and started making cuts without removing the seam first. Oops! If you do this, it’s not a big deal – just insert your scissors, cut the loops down the middle, and trim away the bits of seam along the ends.

7. Tie the sides together by tying each strip to the strip opposite it.


8. Repeat these steps for the other side of the shirt.

 9. After both sides are tied, all that remains is raising the neckline a little. This is optional. You can cut the collar away, if you’d like, or leave the shirt as-is. I left the collar intact and cut the shirt right along the top.


10. Carefully  make a few strips, as before, along the top of the shoulder. You will probably only need 3-5 separate strips here. Tie them together, as before.


11. Repeat with the other shoulder.

12. Wear your new shirt!

cropped tank from a tee

It’s clearly not formalwear, but I love creating cut up tees from shirts I like but never wear because of their size. The ruching created by tying the sides is fairly forgiving and flattering at the same time, and you can bet no one else will have a shirt like yours!  This design is only one of the many possible ways to cut a t-shirt. You can create halter tops from tees, too, and I’m happy to share how in a future tutorial!

If you’re looking for a way to reconstruct a tee that basically already fits, check out my laddering tutorial.

How to Make a Ladder Back Tee

Have you ever cut up a shirt (or other article of clothing) to redesign it? Are you willing to try? Don’t be afraid – just practice on some freebie shirt you never wear to boost your confidence and then have at it! If you want additional reconstruction ideas, I recommend these books. The projects do involve a little sewing, but they’re pretty easy, too, so don’t be afraid!

Jeans are really good for upcycling projects, too. You can go way beyond cut off shorts and hand bags! What do you think – should I do an upcyling tutorial the next time I wear out a pair of jeans?


{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Sarah August 28, 2018, 16:02

    Very cute indeed, but I’d also need a figure like yours to pull it off I think 🙂

    • Natasha August 28, 2018, 18:06

      It seems like everyone is wearing crops right now – I’m sure you’d be just fine! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. =)

  • Darlene June 1, 2013, 21:26

    Very cute – I pinned it.

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