So it’s summer time here in the great city of New York, and that means it gets HOT. Like boiling lava sticky yucko hot. It’s hard to look cute when you’re sweating the entire Hudson river out your armpits, but wearing light fabrics like cotton make a HUGE difference.
Enter the lowly t-shirt
The t-shirt is probably the best summer apparel you can find: it’s comfy, it’s light, and it can have anything you want on it. No other clothing item allows you to proclaim your love
or hate for stuff so easily. Unfortunately for the fashion forward, it’s often tricky to find t-shirts that work well with the rest of your wardrobe and fit the feminine figure without making you look like a robot or box. Thus, I present to you the ULTIMATE pretty decent guide to t-shirt altering. What I’m showing may be simple, but I can guarantee that it’ll make your t-shirts look like cool Brandy Mellville apparel and not weird torn festival wear. I wanna be comfy in my t-shirt, but classy too! If you agree, read on for tips on cropping, dyeing, designing, and even how to make your favorite comfy sleep T into a cute summer dress!
I’m gonna do this one at a time, so this will be a LONG post. If there’s one thing you wanna learn, go ahead and scroll to that specific part. You can do any combination of these on one shirt, but I will say that if you follow them in the order they are listed here, you’ll get the best results! Here we go!
DYEING THE T
Cost: Less than $10
Time: ~ 1 hour
You Will Need:
– 100% cotton white t-shirt (other fabrics will require a different process)
– Rit dye (liquid or powder) I’ll be using Rit, but if you are using a different brand or type make sure to read the directions on the package.
– A large tub and water
1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PACKAGE! I can’t stress this enough. While I’m going to show my process and tips here, each color, fabric amount, and brand will be a bit different or have different suggestions. Make sure you are following these recommendations for best results.
2. Boil enough water to submerge your entire garment. My Rit recommended using about 2 gallons for the amount of dye, but I wanted to concentrate it as much as possible and thus used only about a gallon. Since I only have a small pot for boiling, I filled up the rest with HOT water from the tap, but is best to use all boiling.
3. Add your dye and fabric, as well as salt if recommended. If you are using Rit Liquid you can just add the bottle to the water with about a cup of salt and mix together, then add the fabric. If you are using Rit Powder you will have to dissolve it in some warm water first, then add to the tub with salt. The salt allows the dye to cling to the cotton better and so is super important. Some dyes will recommend your fabric to be damp first. I haven’t tried that personally, but if you’d like you definitely can. Make sure not to overcrowd the tub.
4. Agitate your dye for 45 min – 1 hour, or until water cools. You don’t need to agitate the ENTIRE time, just every couple minutes. It’s still a pain, but less so. I used a chopstick because that’s what I had but you know, use a metal spoon or something and don’t be a doofus like me.
5. Rinse out your garments until the water runs almost clear, then wash and dry in your machine. I don’t have a machine so I washed by hand but you know, don’t be a doofus. I have also had some people recommend wringing out the excess dye from the shirt then letting the dye dry on the shirt before washing. This may help it be extra vibrant. Also don’t stress if the water never gets really clear. Its not a biggie.
All done! If you’re using a really dark color like black, you might have to do this twice. I had to do it twice. It was a bummer. If I had started with wet cloth or used the right fabric pre-treatment and let the dye dry before rinsing, I may have only needed to do it once, but see the above doofus comments. The the shirts eventually did come out good!
I don’t have a picture just trust me on this one guyssss.
So now that you’ve got some cool colored shirts, it’s time to . . . .
DESIGN YOUR OWN T-SHIRT
Cost: $2-10 dollars, depending on the markers or paint you buy
Time: Anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on design difficulty.
You Will Need:
– Shirt to design
– Fabric markers or paint. I chose to try out three different brands (Tee-Juice, which I’ve used before, DecoFabric, and Marvy), so this is also kind of a “marker run down” on the best brand. I won’t be using paint, but I’ll describe how you can at the end.
– Cardboard or stiff paper/plastic to put between layers
1. Pick a single or repeated design. Repeated designs are easier but can take awhile. If you want to use a single design, simply draw it out on a sheet of paper the final size you want or find one online you like and print it out the final size. If you are using a repeated shape, make a stencil out of a stiff paper. That’s what I’m gonna do here, use a cross template.
2. Trace your design onto the t-shirt. If you are using a single design, re-draw it onto the t-shirt using a pencil or use carbon transfer paper to trace it on. If you are using a stencil, evenly space them out and trace around the edge to make your design. In both cases, it is MUCH easier if you keep the shirt taught.
3. Use your marker of choice to draw in the design. Place a piece of cardboard or plastic in between the layers to prevent bleeding to the back. Go slow, and keep the shirt taught! It’ll be much easier this way. For large shapes, draw the outline first then fill in with a bigger marker. Out of the three markers I used, I liked the Marvy best. The brush tip allows thin and thick lines, and is great for filling in. The T-Juice was second best, but only allowed one line width, which was annoying. The DecoFabric, which I used on a different black t-shirt, was BY FAR the worst. It barely flowed and tended to clog up easily. Don’t buy it.
4. Let dry, then iron. Not all markers will “require” ironing, but it’s better safe than sorry and isn’t very hard.
ALTERNATE: If you want to use fabric paint, the process is the same, however for repeated shapes it’s easier to use a stamp. You can make these yourself using carving tools or buy one at the store. You can also use a brush and paint directly on the shirt. Either way, it’ll be messier than the markers but quicker, and will leave a thick layer on the shirt. I like markers better, but it’s a personal choice.
You can wear your shirt immediately after, without washing. After you should be able to launder it normally, just like any other T!
Now that you’ve designed a cool t, maybe it’ll be cooler with a bit of altering. So now you need to know how to . . .
CROP THAT TOP
Cost: FREE! Or the cost of a t-shirt if you don’t already have one.
Time: Less than 5 minutes
Difficulty: Super Easy
You Will Need:
– A T-Shirt
This is literally the easiest thing in the world. I’m only including it because it’s AMAZING to me how many people don’t realize they can do this. There is one step and one photo for this: Take your t-shirt, and cut it short.
That’s literally that. Yes, I am cropping a deathly hallows shirt here,
yup I’m cool. Make sure not to cut it too short, especially if you’re busty. I’m kinda bad at that and this shirt unfortunately ended up a gift for one of my thinner mates. For an added bonus, if you want your shirt to looks like a neato Urban Outfitters or Brandy Mellville “tank” T, just cut off the sleeves behind the hem, leaving only a rough edge. If you’re even MORE lazy, go to the store and buy a pack of little boy’s small t-shirts. This may seem crazy, but they are perfect crop tops, ready for embellishment.
Now that you’ve tackled dyeing fabric, drawing on it, and cutting it up, are you ready for the next level????? Then it’s time for. . .
MAKING A T-SHIRT DRESS
Cost: Free, unless you need to buy a shirt, thread, or needles.
Time: ~ 1 hour, WAY less if you have a sewing machine
You Will Need:
– A men’s t-shirt, at least XL, but the large the longer your dress
– A tank T you love the fit of
– Scissors, needle, and thread
1. Lay out your men’s shirt flat, and lay your tank on top. I’m using an awesome CBGB shirt I got for 99 cents at the thrift shop, whadda deal. Make sure the T is flat and the tank is well centered. The tank is going to act as your pattern.
2. Trace around the tank using chalk, extending the line to the bottom of the T. Again, the tank is like your pattern. Make sure to trace a little outside the actual edge to allow for seam allowance, but only on the sides. Use the natural seams of the shirt at the top and bottom to prevent having to sew.
3. Cut along the line you traced, making sure not to cut the top sleeve seams. You will essentially have a dress with the sides open, but the top already sewn and the bottom already hemmed. The sleeves will stay unfinished like this., but the rest will look finished as a result.
4. Sew up the side seams from bottom hem to top of arm hole. This is essentially just the side seam, not including the arm, which will stay unfinished. If you have a machine this’ll be easy, but otherwise use your standard backstitch about a half inch in. After that, you’re done!
Look out it’s the headless crafter again!
How cute is that! Depending on your size and the t-shirts original size it may not be long enough to be a dress, but for smaller sizes it is perfect. Definitely one of the easier, more satisfying DIY’s I’ve tried, and an awesome way to use all those cool shirts you bought because you loved the pattern, but the size was way too huge. You could of course cut it short as well, but I’m a dress fan myself.
And with that, you have all the tools of artillery to be your own hipster T shop! No need to blow money at the cool boutiques, just make your own! All your cool summer shorts and skirts now have new best friends.
I hope you enjoy the tutorials, sorry the post is so long! Hopefully you find something you want to do in here. If you do make something off my blog, I’d love to see it!
Have fun making your own summer wardrobe, and remember to always