T-Shirt to Tank Top | Binding Tips and Tricks

t-shirt to tank top youmakeitsimple.com

It’s summertime and wearing a cool tank top can be very inviting. In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can easily take a t-shirt and make it into a tank top. This post is full of great tips and tricks for adding binding to the armholes and neckband. This is such a fun way to upcycle an ordinary t-shirt into a unique tank top.

Most of you know how I love upcycling t-shirts. The simple stretchy fabric of a t-shirt can come in handy for making so many other things.

So if you have a t-shirt that has some good stretch to it, fun colors, or cute print, don’t throw it out. USE IT.

Here is a post with some good tips for upcycling t-shirts.

 

HOW TO MAKE A TANK TOP FROM A T-SHIRT

I am going to go over several different styles and ways to make a tank top.

  • Basic work-out tank with cut armholes
  • Rolled hem method
  • Knit binding method

BONUSES: How to add binding to t-shirt sleeve edge, and how to apply a tag or label.

There are so many options and the variety and the color combinations are limitless. So get out your creative bones and have fun making tank tops.

TANK TOP ITEMS AND MATERIALS NEEDED

If you have an existing tank top that you like that fits well, you can use that as a template of where to cut the armholes and neckband. If you don’t, start cutting the holes bigger and then try it on. You can always cut off more, but you CAN’T add fabric back after you cut.

BASIC CUT ARMHOLE TANK TOP INSTRUCTIONS

Turn the t-shirt wrong side out.

If you’re using an existing tank top as a template, lay the tank on top of your t-shirt. Line up the shoulder seams. Most likely the armholes of the tank will be smaller than the t-shirt. No worries.

Using the chalk pen or erasable pen, trace the armhole of one side of the shirt. You can just eyeball where you want to cut.

Cut out that armhole. Fold the shirt in half, lining up shoulder and side seams, and cut out the other armhole using the previous cut as a guide.

You can leave it like this, BECAUSE KNIT FABRIC WILL NOT FRAY.

TANK TOP ROLLED HEM METHOD

If you want to finish the armholes with a rolled hem, I recommend cutting the sleeve off OUTSIDE THE SLEEVE SEAM, leaving about a ¼ “ from the seam. (This will give the armhole a little reinforcement and feel like you’ve added binding to it). But if you want a deeper cut, you can do that as well and it will still work out fine.

I RECOMMEND TRYING ON THE SHIRT BEFORE CUTTING, JUST TO MAKE SURE IT FITS WELL AND CUT WHERE YOU WANT IT TO BE! (If the armholes are a little gappy and loose, just note that after you hem or add binding, it will pull and be more fitted).

Once the sleeves are cut off, all you need to do is fold the fabric edge over the sleeve seam (1/4 inch) and then fold it over again.

Thread your sewing machine with the same color of thread as the t-shirt. Starting at the underarm seam, sew all the way around using a straight stitch. Sew just inside the outer fold to hold in place.

Do this for both tank top armholes.

GATHERED SHOULDER TANK TOP

If the shoulders seam too wide and you want to bring them in a little, you can add a little gather to the shoulder seam as I have in this photo.

gathering tank top shouldersSimply take a needle, double the thread, knot the end, and take two rows of big gathering stitches to gather to your liking. Knot to secure in place.

tank top shoulder bowYou can also use a ribbon to gather the shoulders by tying a bow around the shoulder top and tacking in place with a needle and thread.

 

HOW TO ADD BINDING TO THE TANK TOP ARMHOLES AND NECK

Using stretchy knit fabric strips from other upcycle knit clothing can add a lot of character to your tank tops. CHECK OUT MY POST AND VIDEO ON BINDING.

Decide where you want to cut the armholes.

Cut out and try the tank top on to make sure that is where you want things to be.

 

Measure the armhole, starting at the shoulder seam and go down to the side seam. DOUBLE THAT MEASUREMENT AND THEN SUBTRACT 1 INCH. This will be the length to cut the armhole binding.

tank top binding stripsCut 2-inch strips, on the stretch of your binding fabric. Cut them to the armhole measurement. (If you don’t have strips long enough, you can piece them together. WATCH MY TUTORIAL ON HOW TO DO THAT HERE.

Place the strips RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER and sew the short ends together using a ¼ – 3/8 inch seam allowance to form a ring. Do this for both strips.

Fold the rings in half to find the halfway point and mark with a pin.

Do the same thing with the armholes. Find the halfway point from the side seam and mark with a pin. It’s not always going to be the shoulder seam. Most likely it’s a little off to the side.

Now you’re ready to sew the binding to the tank top.

With the shirt WRONG SIDE OUT, line up the binding seam with the side seam. Pin that in place. Line up the halfway points and pin them in place. The binding piece will be shorter than the tank top piece, so you will be stretching the binding slightly as you sew.

You can pin ¼ points, but I usually don’t. Take it to the sewing machine and starting at the underarm seam, sew all the way around. Use a 3/8 inch seam allowance and a regular straight stitch. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

I LOVE USING THIS TECHNIQUE TO BIND ALL KINDS OF PROJECTS: blankets, slippers, and other clothing items.

Fold the binding over to the WRONG side with the seam finger pressed outward and toward binding. Pin or clip in place all the way around. (Make sure the seam is enclosed in the binding).

TANK TOP STITCH IN THE DITCHOn the TOPSIDE, stitch in the ditch, which is the point where the shirt meets the binding. Turn your sewing machine handwheel toward you, bringing the needle down to make sure it is placed in that crevice. Start sewing. Ease and stretch the fabric slightly as you sew. Backstitch at the end.

There may be a lot of excess fabric, no worries. (Better to have too much fabric than not enough).

VERY CAREFULLY take your scissors and trim the excess fabric close to the seam. Be careful NOT to cut the fabric underneath! No need to worry, the fabric will not fray.

tank top bindingTadah! There you have a nice professional-looking finish to your armhole.

tank top neck bindingYou can do this in the same manner for the neck if you want.

ADDING BINDING TO A SLEEVE EDGE

You can add binding to a t-shirt sleeve edge to give character and contrast. This really adds a lot of charm to a basic t-shirt and something you don’t see every day.

You pretty much just follow the same procedure that you would for an armhole.

  • Measure the sleeve opening, x 2, subtract 1 inch. Cut the binding 2 inches x length.
  • Find halfway points
  • Pin in place.
  • Sew
  • Wrap binding around seam
  • Stitch in-the-ditch
  • Trim binding

BONUS: HOW TO ADD LABEL OR TAG

Adding a cute little tag is optional of course, but another way to customize your clothing. Get more information about how to make your own labels HERE. 

Cut out the label and decide where you want to apply it. Some recommended places would be.

  • The outer bottom center of the sleeve
  • Just under the neck binding on the back of the tank top
  • The bottom hem of the tank top

fabric stabilizer interfacingUnless the knit fabric is really thick, you’ll want to reinforce the knit fabric by applying a little piece of INTERFACING, on the backside of the fabric where you want to apply the label. (Follow instructions on stabilizer).

Using a narrow, short zigzag stitch, sew around the label to secure it in place.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Be sure to reach out if you do have questions.

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Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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T-Shirt Yarn | Made From Upcycled T-Shirts

T-Shirt Yarn youmakeitsimple.com

In this post, I’m going to show you how to make t-shirt yarn from upcycled t-shirts. As some of you know, upcycling is one of my passions and I get a little excited about recycling items of clothing, and t-shirts are one of them.

In a previous post, I have shared some different ideas of how to use upcycled t-shirts. and you can find them here. But for now, let me show you how to make t-shirt yarn.

What can you do with T-Shirt Yarn?

Oh, baby, this stretchy yarn is the best! I have been making it for years, and it comes in handy for so many things. You can use it just like you would yarn and twine.

  • Gift Wrapping
  • Face Mask Ties
  • Crochet it (rugs, bags, etc.)
  • Bracelets
  • Rugs (wrap method-STAY TUNED FOR A FUN TUTORIAL
  • Shoelaces
  • Colorful Decoration (place them in a cute basket for display)

How to Choose the Right T-Shirt for T-shirt Yarn

The best scenario is to find a t-shirt that doesn’t have side seams and is just one continuous piece of fabric. That is ideal, but they’re not as easy to find, but don’t worry because I’m going to show you a really slick way to join the seams and how to cut off that bulky side and make it flow a lot nicer if you have to use a shirt with seams.

I like to find t-shirts that have a little bit of synthetic content and stretch to them. T-shirts that are 100% cotton tend to fray and don’t stretch as well. (It all depends on what you’re using the yarn for).

Don’t limit yourself to just t-shirts. You can use knit dresses and skirts too. Check out this post where I give some helpful tips on upcycling t-shirts.

Materials & Items Needed

  • Scissors
  • Rotary Cutter/Ruler (optional but recommended)
  • Sewing Machine/Needle & Thread (optional)

Using Printed T-Shirt Fabric

TAKE NOTE: If you have a t-shirt that has a cute print that you want to be shown, you’ll need to cut the fabric differently. If you cut the strips horizontally, what happens when you pull the strips to stretch the yarn it is going to curl with the wrong side of the fabric showing on the outside. This is fine if you are using a plain color fabric. But if you want the print exposed, you’ll need to cut the fabric strips vertically.

Most people don’t know this and I don’t want you to be all bummed when you go to pull your strips and the cute print is not visible, just something to consider.

Follow the cutting instructions for printed fabric below. If the t-shirt you are using has a logo or screen print, you’ll want to cut around that as well.  

How big should you cut the strips?

You can cut the strips in different sizes, just depends on what you’re going to use them for. I recommend cutting different size strips on a sleeve and then pulling the strips to see what they look like. Try 1, 1 ½, and 2-inch strips. All fabrics will react a little differently.

Cutting Strips with NO SIDE SEAM T-Shirts

Remove the bottom hem. I really like using a rotary cutter because you get a very straight edge!

Flatten your t-shirt out and fold it in half lengthwise, but leave it unfolded two inches. *Something to consider, if the shirt has a logo on it, you don’t want this in your strips, so cut around it.

Cut from armpit to armpit as shown here. Cut the desired width of strips horizontally, BUT DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY ACROSS! Stop cutting just past the fold of the top layer. Continue cutting strips all the way up the shirt.

 

On the last strip cut it all the way off and remove the top of the shirt. As you can see there’s a section that’s not cut and this is where the magic happens! Slide your arm between the layers and adjust it so the uncut area is accessible over your arm. This makes it easier to cut than cutting on a table.

As indicated on the drawing, start cutting through the single layer of fabric on the bottom strip at an angle to the end of the cut edge. On the next layer cut from one end to the other ON A DIAGANOL!  Follow that same pattern until you’ve cut all strips.

 

Cutting Strips on T-Shirts with SIDE SEAMS

You can follow the same procedure if you don’t mind bulky seams in your yarn. This may be fine for some craft projects, but if you’re crocheting something, this seam will be very bulky. I will show you below how to join the pieces without all the bulk.

If you want to cut strips and sew them together, cut off the side seams and then cut strips to the size you want. Follow the instructions below on how to piece strips together.

Cutting Strips of PRINTED FABRIC

Remove the bottom hem and remove the sleeves. Instead of folding the t-shirt over vertically, fold the bottom edge up to the neckband. Cut off side seams and then cut vertical strips to your desired width. You will need to piece strips together.

 

How to Piece Strips Together

Before sewing strips together, pull the strip ends that you are going to sew together to see which side curls in. Put the curling sides facing down flatten it out and take the other strip that you’re joining together and place it on top of the strip with the curling side facing up.

Place them at right angles overlapping just about a 1/4 inch at the top and on the side. It doesn’t really matter if it’s more, but it needs to be at least a quarter inch. Sew from notch to notch at an angle using a ¼ inch seam allowance.

Clip fabric and leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip away the two little ear tags. When you open up the seam it’s at a diagonal and when you pull it, the seam will be tucked inside. You may be wondering why you can’t just sew it at a straight angle. Doing it this way distributes the seam at an angle so it’s tucked inside and less bulky. Pretty cool huh?

So if you can’t find t-shirts without seams, you can join them this way and it works really well. If you really needed to, you could do this by using a needle and thread as well

Pulling Strips to Make T-Shirt Yarn

To finish the strips into yarn, simply pull the strips. When you pull the strips, they’ll curl onto themselves making a nice yarn. Wrap strips into a ball and place them in a cute basket.

Who would have thought that you can make yarn from an upcycled t-shirts! This is such a fun thing and it’s easy to do.

So go through your closets and find some cute colors of t-shirts and make yarn!

Print the FREE PDF infographic below.

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycled T Shirts – Ideas and Tips

Do you have a t shirt that you love, but it doesn’t fit anymore or has gone out of style?  Give it a second life by making something else out of it. Here are some great upcycled t shirts ideas and tips.

Knits are “sew” fun to work with and there are so many fun things you can make with them, especially children’s clothing. Although, nowadays, little kids t-shirts are usually cheaper just to buy already made, than to purchase a pattern and fabric (not to mention the time involved). However, if you already have an existing shirt to use for fabric, and an EASY pattern, then making something can be quite fun and save you a lot of money!

Have you priced good-quality interlock knits lately?  They are not cheap and the selection is usually poor.

This piece of knit with 5 % spandex was $12.99 yard.

So if you have a shirt that has good quality fabric, good colors, and design, and you don’t wear it anymore, MAKE SOMETHING COOL WITH IT!

Here are a few ideas of what to do with upcycled t-shirts:

Here are a few before and after photos

 

polka dot knit shirt upcycled t shirts

I used this polka dot shirt to make a skirt……..

repurposed t shirts before

……….. and this shirt to make a comfy double fold yoga waistband for the skirt.

Ta dah!  I added a cute green pom pom trim on the bottom and look what a cute whimsy skirt these upcycled shirts made.

You can get the pattern for this skirt HERE.

Felted wool sweater strips make up this cute skirt. (pattern can be purchased in my Shop).

I used this shirt for the waistband.

This purple turtle neck wasn’t the most attractive shirt to wear, however, it was good fabric and worked really nicely for the yoga waistband on this simple fleece skirt. So instead of going in the trash, or to the thrift store, this shirt came in real handy!

I love cutting strips of t-shirts and winding them up into a ball. Not only do they look cute sitting in a basket, but there are a lot of fun things to make with strips of knit shirts. Here is a link to a video tutorial on how to cut up the shirt into t-shirt yarn.

Go to Pinterest and type in the search ” t-shirt strips” and you’ll find all kinds of fun things to make.

If you haven’t seen my post on how to make these adorable baby beanies from upcycled t-shirts, you can find it HERE.

In a previous post, I show and give some tips on how to cut out t-shirts to get them ready for projects and how to use the fabric for other things.

So, that was a mouth full. I hope you find it inspiring and gives you a few ideas.

Have fun sewing my friends!

 
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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Diy Baby Beanie Hats from Recycled T shirts

baby beanie

Repurposing clothing is something I get excited about, and it’s not only from sweaters. There are a lot of things you can do with an upcycled T SHIRT as well. How about a baby beanie?

Baby and toddler clothes are so fun to make with upcycled t shirts because they don’t require a lot of fabric. These beanie hats are so fun and easy to make.

Although I don’t have any little ones around at the time, I was preparing some baby gifts and wanted to add a few beanie hats to what I had already purchased. I got into my t-shirts box (yep, I save a few nice t-shirts as well as sweaters) and found some cute t-shirts that would work for beanies. They were cut out and sewn in 30 minutes.

This pattern includes THREE different types of hats and THREE different sizes.

Supplies & Items Needed

  • Stretchy knit t-shirts or knit fabric

Look for soft stretchy fabric that would feel good on the little ones’ heads.

  • Pattern (downloaded and cut out)
  • Scissors
  • Pins or fabric clips
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine (single needle or serger can be used)

**If using a single needle machine, set the stitch to a small zigzag stitch to prevent seams from popping. 4 widths and 1 1/2 length.

 

1-  Choose an existing t-shirt or purchase 1/4 yard of knit fabric

Remember that this fabric will be touching a baby’s head, so find something that is cozy and soft to the touch. (Most knits are).

2-  cut out the pattern size and pin  on fabric

Make sure the stretch of the fabric is going horizontal as indicated on the pattern. To make things quicker, double fabric so you only have to make one cut. You need two top pieces.

3-  Fold fabric in half and place cuff piece on the fold where indicated on the pattern.

Pin in place and cut out. You only need one cuff.

4-  Place top pieces Right Sides Together (RST).

Pin in place and sew the top sides. Do not sew the V pleat yet.

 

5-  Fold the cuff in half horizontally with (RST) and sew the side seam.

6-  Sew top piece darts.

Fold the top piece together so the side seams you just sewed are in alignment. Pin in place. Sew from the dart end all the way over the top to the end of the dart. Angle off slowly to prevent seam puff. Clip threads.

7-   marking 1/2 way points with pins

With the top piece folded in half, mark the outer points with pins.

8- Hat cuff

Fold the cuff piece in half, with (RST) to form a band. Now place a pin at the half way point.

9-  Putting it all together

With the WRONG side out of the top piece, take the cuff and align 1/2 way points. Make sure the seam of the cuff is not on one of the side seams of the top piece. (You’ll want the seam to be in the back of the beanie not on the side.

Secure in place with pins and sew all the way around.

10- Press seam allowance towards the top piece

Take an iron and press the seam towards the top piece. This will allow the cuff to fold nicely.

11- Press cuff fold

Turn the right side to the outside and fold cuff in half. Press inner fold.

Ta-dah!  Now wasn’t that a snap.

Instructions Top knot beanie

1-  Place (RST) and sew around beanie top, leaving the bottom open.

2-  Follow the same basic instruction from the basic beanie.

3-  After pressing the beanie, tie a knot in the top hat tail.

Isn’t this adorable!

Instructions for Baby bear beanie

1-  With (RST) sew around ears and cuff side seam.

2-  Turn earns inside out and fold pleats, then pin in place.

You can baste to hold in place or just pin.

3-  Place the ears where indicated on the pattern.

Take the other top piece and put it on top of the ears. (RST). Line up edges. (The ears will extend past the edge). Pin in place and sew the two sides.

4- Line up the side seams and sew the dart seam, just as with the basic beanie instructions above.

5-   Apply the cuff.

Press seam allowance.

These beanies make great baby gifts or whip some up for your own little one.

Here are some other fun baby gift tutorials.

Patterns can be found in my website shop.

Some other T-shirt repurposing posts

Upcycling T Shirts 

Repurposing T Shirts – Cutting Out Tips

Happy sewing!

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Repurposed T Shirts – Cutting Out Tips

repurposed t shirts

In a previous post, I shared a few ideas of how you can use repurposed t shirts to make OTHER THINGS, upcycling, repurposing, or recycling are a few common terms used. I love to repurpose things and I love to sew.

When my kids were little ones, I made a lot of their clothes using some of my and my husband’s knit shirts.

Here are a few examples:

repurposed t shirts

I made this knit overall jumpsuit from an existing t-shirt and I used a cool applique patch from another shirt.  The redshirt was made from an adult t-shirt as well.

repurposed t shirts kolby

This jumpsuit was made from one of my cool rugby shirts.  I loved the feel of the thick knit, and couldn’t part with it, so I made something for my little boy. (now 31 years old)

repurposed t shirts allie

This jumpsuit, I made using one of my sweatshirts and the pocket on the front was from an old kit dress.

repurposed t shirts

Little kids are so fun to sew for!  Little tops and pants hardly take any fabric, so repurposing is easy and inexpensive.  Just think of all the fun things you can make. 

I have a good selection of fun patterns for babies and children here on my site or just Google and you will be surprised at how many free patterns there are out there for little kids.

BED SURE TO CHECK OUT MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL WHERE I HAVE SEVERAL SEWING TUTORIALS ON HOW TO MAKE SOME REALLY FUN BABY ITEMS!

repurposed t shirts skirt

I am going to show you how to easily cut out a waistband and little girl skirt using an existing adult t shirt.

If you like going to garage sales or thrift stores, watch for unique colors and prints with good quality fabric. Check the labels for the fabric content.  For the skirt waistband, use rib knits or any stretch fabric that has 100% stretch. Recycled shirts with a lot of spandex content work really well.

I have even purchased shirts in clothing stores that are on clearance just for the fabric.

Tip:  Get the largest size. 

The larger the size, the more fabric.  Knit skirts and dresses are a great deal.  The long knit dresses and skirts that are popular now are a great find for upcycling because they have a log of yardage in fabric.  Look for the killer deals.  If I see a cute knit skirt or dress on clearance I watch it to hit rock bottom price like 70% off then I snatch it up and add it to my knit box.

For a cute skirt with a yoga folded waistband, choose a shirt that has some Lycra or Spandex in it.  This will allow it to stretch like you need for a waistband.  The fabric should stretch at least twice the size.  So be sure to check the stretch.

repurposed t shirts
repurposed t shirts before

Open up the shirt or skirt and get the wrinkles out.

repurposed t shirts

Line up the bottom hem and fold the shirt so the side seams are lined up.  The fold will be the front and back of the shirt.

repurposed t shirts

Cut off the hem using a rotary cutter or scissors.

repurposed t shirts
repurposed t shirts

Place the ruler as close to the seam as you can and at a right angle perpendicular to the hem.

repurposed t shirts cutter

To get the most fabric out of the shirt, place the ruler as high and as close to the armpit as you can.  Cut at a right angle perpendicular to the fold.

repurposed t shirts

Use the fabric right away, or fold and place in your stash of knit fabrics.

How to Make Skirt from a Repurposed T Shirt

repurposed t shirts

Use the fabric right away, or fold and place in your stash of knit fabrics.

repurposed t shirts

Line up the side seams with the fold in front.

repurposed t shirts

Place the pattern piece on fold where indicated.

 
repurposed t shirts

This is what I had left after cutting out a skirt front & back.

 
repurposed t shirts

I added a little trim and look what a cute skirt this made.
This simple pattern can be found here in my shop or Etsy.

 
repurposed t shirts

TIP: If the shirt has a turtle neck, cut it off.

This makes a great fabric for cuffs.

 
repurposed t shirts

Fabric from long sleeves also make good cuffs.

 
Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

Read More