How to… turn a giant t-shirt into a top

I used to turn t-shirts into tops by cutting out the necks and the bands at the arms and waist. Not always so flattering. So it finally was time to figure out what to do with the drawerful of shirts I never wore, except to the beach.

Take this giant orange guy, with my neighborhood ironed onto the front, a lovely Christmas gift from a boy with a big heart but no sense of size.

Bold, yet shapeless. Appropriately local, but inappropriately frumpy. Thanks to skinny elastic, I now have a top. Here’s one way to turn a giant T into a top:

1. PREPARE BODICE. Cut off original sleeves by slicing through stitching or by trimming off the seam. Turn shirt inside out and pin to fit. body. Try on, fit, baste, fit again. Sew sides. Trim seam allowance.

2. PREPARE NECK FACING Figure out what neck shape you want. Cut it out. If you have enough seam allowance to face the neck, use it. If not, you can trim from the bottom of the T or use other fabric. You need a strip a good 1.5 inches wide, and as long as the neck opening. You can sew smaller strips together to get enough length.

3. ATTACH NECK FACING Fold the facing strips in half lengthwise. Press. Start pinning from one side of the neck, raw edges of the facing strip to the right side of the shirt. when you like the **fit, baste and sew. Trim edges and fold them under. Now topstitch on the facing band, catching them under your stitching. If the T stretches too much, toss a strip of newspaper underneath to temporarily stabilize it.

** I ended up fishing elastic through my neck facing because I didn’t follow my own advice to fit before sewing, and the neck was way too big. Serves me right.

4. PREPARE SLEEVES To gather sleeves, baste a long running stitch along the top raw edge of the excised sleeve, about 3/8″ from the edge. Pull the underthread until the sleeve is bunchy enough. Stitch over the gathering to stabilize it. Pin the sleeve back on, right sides together, baste and sew.

5. FINISH SLEEVES Take skinny elastic or elastic cord and fish through the original serged hem of the sleeve using a giant needle. Pull until sleeve opening is the size you like, knot the ends and tuck underneath.

Nice top!

  1. awesome!
    Been googling looking for ideas for a few t-shirts i have! love this!!

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