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girlify your t-shirts

Ok ladies, it’s time to send the boys for beer and pizza while we have a little girl talk.

You go to a show, a convention, that awesome thing put on by that awesome person or persons that you’ve been dying to go to forever. And you want to buy one of their awesome shirts to commemorate your attendance at this awesome event. They’ve got S through XXXL, unisex. No girl’s t-shirts. No shirts made to actually flatter the female figure instead of making it look bland or frumpy. But you buy a shirt anyway because, like I said, the event was awesome.

I am continually dismayed at the lack of girly t-shirts available at these things, so I’ve decided to take the issue into my own hands. Take that shirt and make it girly. This is my first attempt. It turned out pretty well, and I will be trying other styles with other t-shirts in the future, so stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more girlified t-shirt tutorials.

For today’s post, I offer you this:

My small unisex shirt from a Paul and Storm concert, transformed. Here’s how to do it.

What you will need:

  • a t-shirt (and maybe an extra, not-so-special one to practice on, too)
  • thread the same colour as the t-shirt
  • fabric scissors
  • straight pins
  • a sewing machine (or you could do this with a needle and thread, technically. It would just be a pain and take a long time.)

A few quick notes before we begin. Considering that you’re about to cut up a t-shirt of awesomeness that has special memories and meaning for you and may or may not be easy to replace, it might be a good idea to start with a practice round. Go to the thrift store wearing your awesome t-shirt, and find another un-awesome $2 t-shirt that is the same size and shape, fits you the same way and has the same details (side seams or no side seams, that sort of thing). Then try stuff out on that t-shirt first to make sure it’s gonna work the way you want it to.

It’s also important to note that exact methods for t-shirt resizing will differ depending on the shirt and the person. For example, I couldn’t make my Paul & Storm minion shirt into a v-neck due to the way the graphics are places. The printing on the t-shirt will dictate to some extent exactly what you’re able to do with it.

And all us ladies are shaped a little differently. I have narrow shoulders, fairly small breasts, a narrow waist, and very wide hips. This meant with my t-shirt that I needed to do some extra tucking at the shoulders and try to bring the waist in, but didn’t want decrease the width of the hem too much or it wouldn’t fit over my hips. So exactly how you resize your shirt is going to depend on 3 things:

  • The design and printing on the shirt
  • Your particular size and shape
  • What aspects of you and the shirt you want to emphasize, along with your style preferences

Ok, still with me? Let’s get this show on the road.

1) Pre-wash your t-shirt. It might shrink a little bit, and you’ll want that out of the way before you start resizing it.

2) Turn the shirt inside out.

3) Cut off the sleeves. Cut a slit up the sleeve to where it attaches to the shirt. Then cut along the seam in a circle until the whole sleeve has been removed. Do not simply cut through both layers of fabric at once in a straight line.

4) Fold the raw edge of the arm holes inward (by about 1/4 inch) and pin them.

5) Sew this down. Remember not to sew over pins!

6) Fold this newly hemmed edge in again and pin it.

7) Sew this down, once along the inside of the hem, once along its outer edge. This is for greater strength and a more finished look.

After this step is completed, stop and try on the shirt. See how the armholes fit. Are they comfortable? Are they too big or do they come down too low? If they come down to low, follow step 8b below.

8) Cut the collar out of the shirt. You get to decide what shape you want the new neckline to be here.

For a simple rounded neckline, cut it rounded, as pictured in the first image below. For a squared neckline like in the photo at the beginning of this post, cut it squared, as pictured in the second image.

  • Cut the back of the neckline as you desire. For stylistic reasons and due to the printing on the back of my shirt, I cut the back of the neckline very nearly straight across, but wider than on the original t-shirt.

  • 8b) If the arm holes of your shirt go down too low for your tastes, cut the shirt open at the shoulder seams. The whole top of the shirt will now be open, the front unattached from the back. Trim 1/4 to 1/2 an inch off the tops of the straps on both front and back, then sew the front and back together again at the shoulders. This will shorten the arm holes and also bring your neckline up a bit.

9) Follow steps 4 – 7 but with the raw edge of the neckline. Fold it over about 1/4 inch, pin it down, sew it, fold it over again, pin it down, sew it down twice, once along the inner and the outer edge of the hem respectively.

10) Your shirt will now look like this.

or this, depending on which style you chose.

  • Again, take a moment to try the shirt on and see how things are fitting, make any necessary adjustments.
  • If, like me, you have narrow shoulders and the shirt gapes at the back of the neckline, put a couple little tucks in under the straps at both sides of the back of the shirt.

If you chose the first, rounded neck option, skip ahead to step 16. Otherwise, continue with step 11.

11) From the t-shirt sleeves you removed earlier, cut 2 small rectangles. Mine were about 4 1/2 by 3 inches.

12) Sew a hem onto the short ends of each rectangle.

13) Fold the long edges in to the middle and sew them down with a zigzag stitch.

14) Wrap a rectangle around the front of one of your shirt straps. Arrange the shirt so it’s gathered and falls the way you want it to.

15) Hand stitch the rectangle into place. Make sure you stitch the two ends of the rectangle together, but also put a few stitches through the rectangle and into the shirt strap itself, to keep things from moving around.

16) To give your shirt a bit more shape, you can put some darts in. I placed two at the sides, under the armpits, and two at the back. I’m not sure about these – I may pull them out and move them to the front. I’m still experimenting a bit. But these darts are easy enough to take out and redo if necessary. To make darts:

  • Using a ruler, draw a narrow triangle from the hem of the shirt to just under the armpit (if on the sides), just under the bust (if on the front) or the middle of the back. You’ll also want to make sure your darts don’t interfere with any of the writing or graphics on your shirt. Just shorten them as needed.

  • Fold the two sides of the triangle together along its length and pin.

  • Sew along the line. That’s it, that’s your dart.

  • After making your darts, you can either sew the bottom of the dart down, or fold the hem line up and create a new hem line, just so you once again have a nice even hem to your shirt.

All done! Wear with pride.

As mentioned earlier, I’ll be trying some other t-shirt modifications over the next few weeks/months, so stay tuned for those. And this is really all about experimenting and coming up with something that both fits and suits you. I don’t really know what I’m doing – I just make it up as I go. Which is where all the fun is anyway. :)

(It’s a good shirt to play ping-pong in.)

(PS: I apologize for the blurry photos – I took most of the pictures late at night with bad light and didn’t have the time or t-shirt to retake them.)

Leave a comment


  1. Just above Step 11, there’s a possible typo: you say ‘If you chose the first, rounded neck option, skip ahead to step __’. Which step do you refer to?

    Yes, I’m a guy. I was just interested. :P :D

  2. admin

     /  May 29, 2010

    Hey, I see no problem w/ that. From what I hear, many guys like looking at girls and, by association, the things girls wear. Just as girls like looking at the same. :D

    Plus I’m delighted that a guy read through all that. Or anyone, really.

    The blank space was an error – I meant to go back and fill in the number once I’d written enough of the post to know what the number was. Then I forgot. Oops. Fixed now.

  3. You have a point there. :D

    Eh, crafts are interesting.

  4. admin

     /  May 29, 2010

    Naturally I agree with you 110% on that statement. :)

  5. wow!!! I LOVE IT! LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! I wish I had a sewing machine. Well, I wish I had an eye for sewing! You’re great at it!!!! Those shirts look awesome!

  6. Girl, this is genius! Can’t wait to look through the rest of your posts.

    • admin

       /  August 28, 2010

      Thanks! If you try this mod or come up w/ some of your own, I’d love love love to hear how it goes and see pictures.

  7. I was recommended this web site via my cousin. I am no longer sure
    whether this post is written through him as nobody else understand
    such unique approximately my difficulty. You are wonderful!

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