How to Design Cut-Up T-Shirts

    by Contributing Writer

    T shirts are one of the most customizable garments around. With just a few tools you can create a multitude of looks without a lot of effort or expense. These are just a few simple techniques to customize a t-shirt. Try one technique per shirt, or mix and match a couple techniques at once to create an entire wardrobe of custom-cut shirts.

    Things You'll Need

    • Round neck and v neck t-shirts
    • Sewing scissors
    • Pins
    • Sewing needle
    • Sewing machine
    • Thread
    • Iron
    • Ironing board

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    How to Design Cut-Up T-Shirts

    To widen the neck of a round-neck t-shirt, clip the threads that attach the neck band to the top of the t-shirt. Pick out the thread with a pin, clipping the threads when they get too long. Try on the shirt. Leave neck hole at present size or make larger if needed. To make larger, insert pins to mark the desired width of the new neck line. Take the shirt off and cut along the new neckline. Leave edges alone for a raw look. For a smoother look, turn the shirt inside out. Fold the neck line of the t-shirt under 1/4 inch and iron to form another crease. Fold the neck line over again another 1/4 inch and iron to form a crease. Sew in place along the fold. Turn right side out.

    To take off the sleeves of the t-shirt, clip a few of the threads holding the sleeve to the shirt and begin to pick out the seam with a pin. Clip the threads when they get too long. Remove the sleeves completely and pick out any remaining threads. Leave armholes unfinished for a frayed look. To create a smooth finish turn shirt inside out. Fold over the armhole edges 1/4 inch and iron to form a crease. Fold over again another 1/4 inch and iron again. Sew along the edge of the fold.

    To create more dramatic sleeves on the t-shirt, line up the shirt on the ironing board so that the bottom hems match. Iron and form creases at the shoulders. Cut along these creases and clip the threads holding the shoulder in place on each side. Pick out the seam with a pin, trimming with scissors until half of each shoulder has been clipped away. Fold under each raw edge 1/4 inch and iron to form a crease. Fold each edge under again another 1/4 inch and iron again. Sew along the folds. Tack the join in the shoulder where the seam split ended to keep the shoulder seams from ripping further apart.

    Cut slits into your shirt to create a layering piece. Pinch the front of your shirt in the center and make a small clip with your scissors. Insert the scissors and cut upwards at a 45 degree angle towards one of the shoulders, stopping 2 to 3 inches before reaching the shoulder. Go back to the beginning of the slit and pinch the fabric 1 inch above this slit's beginning. Cut downwards at a 45 degree angle. Repeat until you have several slits traveling the front of your shirt. Repeat on the back of the shirt if desired.

    To create a loose, flutter-style shirt, take a t-shirt and turn it until the side seam is visible. Cut away the side seam starting at the bottom of the shirt. Pick out the seam with a pin and clip the threads when they get too long. Part the seam until you have undone 4 inches. Turn the shirt over to the other side seam and repeat the above steps. Tack the join of the seam where it is still attached to prevent any further unraveling. Pick out any loose threads on the parted seam.

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