T Shirt Alteration Ideas

Updated November 21, 2016

T-shirts are basic, lightweight garments that were originally designed to be worn as underwear. According to Lisa's History Room, they rose in popularity after Marlon Brando's character wore one as outerwear in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Widely worn by individuals of all ages today, T-shirts are often inexpensive and perfect for altering to make one-of-a-kind fashion statements and craft projects.


Changing the neckline of your T-shirt is a simple alteration that makes a world of difference. Cut the T-shirt freehand or, if desired, use a fabric pencil to draw a guide for where you would like to cut the fabric. Turn a basic crew neck T-shirt into an off-the-shoulder top by cutting it from shoulder to shoulder, or, for a less drastic alteration, cut a crew neck T-shirt into a slightly more revealing neckline in the shape of a "v" or a scoop.


The Deranged Designs website suggests using scissors to make slashes, or cuts, in T-shirts made of stretchy fabrics. Arrange your slashes in any way you desire; for example, make them long or short, and arrange them randomly or in a pattern. You can also cut holes into T-shirts in place of slashes. Once you have altered your T-shirt, wear it over a shirt that is a different colour or pattern for a creative look.


Alter the sleeves of your T-shirt to turn it into a fashion statement. Use a pair of scissors to cut the sleeves off entirely to create a sleeveless shirt or tank top, or cut slits on the outside of each sleeve. If you cut slits into the sleeves of your T-shirt, you can alter the slits by cutting them to be thinner or using a scrap of fabric to tie the slits together. Ruching, a technique that involves gathering the fabric to create a "bunched up" appearance, is another popular look. Ruch the sleeves of your T-shirt by threading string through the fabric and pulling it together tightly.

Additional Ideas

Enlist a variety of craft supplies to alter the look of your T-shirt without cutting or sewing the fabric itself. Use fabric paint or markers to draw a design on the front of a plain, coloured T-shirt; this design can be anything you desire, from an abstract pattern to a copied image. If you're not artistically inclined, use letter stencils to add your favourite quote, lyric or band name to the front of your T-shirt. Another option is to use small amounts of bleach to lighten spots of fabric. If you're using bleach, exercise caution and protect your eyes and the clothing you are wearing.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author