3 Ways to Revive a Boring T-Shirt You Never Wear

Everyone has a simple T-shirt that is “just OK” — it’s a good color and fits well, but it’s just lacking style. Instead of dooming the top to the back of your dresser drawers, give it a new life! Here are three ways to refashion a T-shirt with a bit of personality.

Finish it with a contrast trim

purple tee before and after refashion

This is a great fix for any T-shirt that might have shrunk in the wash and is now too short. 

I removed the neck and sleeve bands and replaced them with a new edge finish in a coordinating fabric. Be sure to use a fabric with enough stretch to work with this type of neckband. For the bottom, I removed the hem and replaced it with panels of the coordinating fabric.

Add a sheer panel

grey t-shirt with sheer back panel

A popular look in T-shirts lately combines a standard knit with a sheer or lightweight fabric to create a different look. 

To add a sheer or contrast back panel to a T-shirt, start by marking a horizontal line a few inches below the armhole. Cut up the sides and across the back.

cut back of t-shirt

The seams on a T-shirt are often a bit bulky — since they are typically stitched on a serger — so cut the side seams off as well.

Use the portion removed from the back of the T-shirt as a template to cut out the inset fabric. Here is where you can make the design any style you want.

cut out sheer knit fabric

For this one, I cut the sheer knit wider than the T-shirt and so I could gather it when attached. You can also match the hem of the original T-shirt or create a different look — here it will be a high-low hem effect. 

Place the new portion across the back cut edge of the T-shirt, having the new fabric extend about ½” past the corner created when you removed the back. It helps to stay-stitch the corners and then clip into each corner so you can sew the new portion along the side seams and back. 

attach sheer knit to t-shirt

Create a diagonal color block

This is a great refashion for a top that has a hole near the hem — as the one pictured does — or one that has become too short.

Cut the bottom part of the existing T-shirt off at a diagonal.  Start the diagonal about 3″ below the sleeve and mark and cut at a 45 degree angle toward the other side.

cut the t-shirt on the diagonal

Use the bottom piece you cut off the T-shirt to create the new portion. You can have the hem of the new portion mimic the original T-shirt with an even hem of any length, or measure evenly down from the diagonal edge to create this high-low effect.

cut the diagonal piece

You can seam both sides of the new portion or cut one on the fold, eliminating one side seam.

attach contrast portion

Attach the contrast portion to your original T-shirt, sewing just up to the side seam. Then you can seam up the remaining opening, blending the contrast portion side seam into the original T-shirt seam. 

color block diagonal seam t-shirt
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