How to Upcycle That Old T-Shirt Into a Sheer-Panel Summer Top

t-shirt with sheer panel

You know that old T-shirt that’s tucked away in the back of your closet? The one you never wear, but for some reason can’t get rid of? Grab it and shake off those moth balls — it’s time to give it new life! In this upcycle, you’ll transform that plain T into a fabulous summer top by adding a sheer back panel. (You could also use a colored fabric that contrasts well with your shirt). Best part: You’ll be done in three (count ’em — three!) easy steps.

Sheer Back Panel T-Shirt

Level: Easy

What You Need

  • T-shirt
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sheer fabric
  • Sewing pins
  • Fabric marker
  • Instructions

    1. Cut the Shirt

    cutting t-shirt

    On the back of the shirt, mark a horizontal line a few inches below the armhole. Cut up the sides of the shirt to remove the seam, then cut along the horizontal line you made.

    Good to Know: We cut off the side seams because they’re usually a bit bulky on a T-shirt, thanks to being stitched on a serger.

    2. Cut the Sheer Fabric

    cutting sheer panel

    Once your back is cut off, use it as a template to cut out the inset fabric.

    Use this step to personalize your DIY shirt and make any design you want! We cut the sheer fabric wider than the shirt, to allow for subtle gathering along the back panel. We also went for a high-low effect, so the sheer panel will be longer than the hem of the original T-shirt (that you still have on the front).

    3. Stitch the Panel to the Shirt

    sewing sheer panel

    Align the sheer fabric across the cut edge of your T-shirt, right sides together, gathering if needed. Pin in place and staystitch the corners.

    To finish, stitch along the side seams and back. Depending on the look you prefer, you can leave your sheer panel with a raw edge and simple staystitching, or finish it off with the technique of your choice.

    sheer panel shirt

    And you’re done!

    Photos by Beth Galvin

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    10 Responses to “How to Upcycle That Old T-Shirt Into a Sheer-Panel Summer Top”

    1. Tammy Dumas

      Side and front views would be great!

    2. Catherine A. Ingram

      Yes, I would like to see the front.

    3. Rita Ayala

      Please show the front of the shirt.

    4. Dawn

      Like recycling

    5. Gillian

      Please show front and side views of shirt too!! Cute idea!

    6. Sharon Baker

      Very cute idea to up-cycle an old t-shirt!

    7. Heather

      I think it'd be cool to cut off the front under the graphic you want to save and see in the sheer fabric there, too. I'd also use this opportunity to make it a tunic length to go over leggings.

    8. Sharon

      The front will just look like a regular T-shirt because no changes have been made to it. The sheer fabric is only added to the back.

    9. Vicki R

      Can we see photos of the front of this top? Maybe a side view, too?

    10. PCHemmi

      nice idea :)