T-Shirt Transformations or: How I Learned to Stop Hoarding My Old Shirts and Love DIY Tutorials

DIY, Shirt Kong, T-shirt, St. Louis, St. Charles, refashion, screen printing, t shirt, tee shirt, refurbish, repurpose

“God, I always just think of myself as a jeans and T-shirt kind of person.” – Joan Jett

I have a lot of old T-shirts. A lot. A few have holes, most are sporting old deodorant stains and some have shrunk so badly that my roommate’s dog can pull them off better than I can. But I can’t get rid of them. Either I have some kind of minor sentimental attachment to the shirt or I love the graphics too much to let the silly piece of cloth go. I find myself making excuses for not throwing them away, like “What if I go spelunking? I’ll need that FZN Senior shirt with the holes in the armpits.” I literally have T-shirts dating back to my middle school days just hanging out at the bottom of my drawer merely because I’ve never figured out what to do with them except not throw them away.

However, in 2010, three clever men dropped a well-crafted, estrogen-attracting bomb on the Internet, called it Pinterest and the clothing industry changed forever. I like to call that change the (Em)Power(ment) of Pinterest: spend a few hours on there, and a girl thinks she’s got what it takes to be the Vera Wang of the T-shirt world. Here’s the problem: I’ve never had much of a knack for homemade projects. Really, the only crafty thing about me is my taste in beer. I mean, I did love making those animal-shaped bead keychains when I was a kid, but other than that I’m too much of a perfectionist to tackle any serious DIY projects without feeling a crippling anxiety that I’m going to mess the whole thing up 5 minutes before I’m finished.

I figure there’s other people out there like me who don’t have a lot of free time, or may not necessarily have the best skills when it comes to being crafty, so I decided to track down a few easy T-shirt refashioning ideas that don’t involve sewing or take too long to complete. Shirt Kong had a few extra shirts lying around, so I decided to tackle these ideas myself, and all of my end products turned out great!

Project #1: Strapless Dress
Time it took to complete: 5 minutes
Tools: a pair of scissors and an over-sized T-shirt

shirt kong, screen printing, DIY, dress, St. Peters, St. Charles, t-shirt, cut, sleeves, scissors, St. Louis

The first project I chose comes from Jillian, which I found on her blog ReFashionista. After laying my T-shirt out flat on a table, I made a single cut down the middle of each sleeve.

Next, I pulled the collar of the T-shirt down under my arms, wrapped the sleeve sections around me and knotted them tightly in the front.

DIY, Shirt Kong, St. Peters, St. Charles, t-shirt, dress, cut, scissors, Pinterest

Voila! My very own little black dress without the expensive price tag.

Project #2: Scarf
Time it took to complete: 40 minutes
Tools: a pair of scissors and 1-2 different colored T-shirts

The second project I took on comes from Courtney’s blog A Diamond in the Stuff. Her tutorial only calls for one T-shirt, but I wanted to have two different colors in my scarf. After cutting off the bottom hem of the T-shirt, I cut strips at least 1 inch wide all the way up the T-shirts until I hit the bottom of the arm pit. This should leave you with a dozen or so cloth loops.

DIY, Shirt Kong, T-shirt, shirt, St. Louis, screen printing

Next, I stretched the loops out as much as I could until they turned into themselves and were long enough that I could double up the scarf if I felt like it. Then, I bunched all of the loops together by wrapping one of the strips around the rest and tucking the end into itself.

DIY, scarf, t-shirt, shirt, Shirt Kong, St. Louis, screen printing

Tip: for a longer scarf, use a bigger size T-shirt so that the strips stretch out more.

Personally, I loved this project the most; it’s very easy, and the end result looks exactly like something I’d buy at Express. I recommend using a very soft T-shirt; I used two Gildan Softstyle tees, one 100% cotton and one 65/35 polyester-cotton blend.

Project #3: Tank top/gym shirt
Time: 35 minutes
Tools: a pair of scissors and one T-shirt

 The last project I took a stab at came from Catherine’s blog Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth. I can’t tell you how many cute tank tops I have in my closet that are exactly this style that I paid an arm and a leg for, when all along I could have made them myself. I’m going to direct you to her neat visual for instructions on how to make this because it explains more clearly what to do in a few pictures than I can in a whole paragraph. However, I will provide you with pictures of my final product.

Shirt Kong, T-shirt, DIY, workout, St. Charles, St. Louis, tank top

Shirt Kong, T-shirt, St. Louis, screen printing, DIY, St. Charles, St. Louis

Ta-da! A versatile tank that looks great, regardless if you’re going to work out after class or hitting the town on a Friday night.

So there you have it: a few fun, easy ways to transform your old T-shirts into a brand-spanking new wardrobe! A million kudos and thanks to these ladies for being such an inspiration to us T-shirt addicts everywhere.



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  2. Pingback: DIY: Red shirt refashion « Musical Butterfly

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