How to Cut a T-Shirt into a Racerback Tank Top (No Sew)
No-sew T-Shirt Projects
I already shared how to make t-shirt yarn from totally worn-out, unwanted t-shirts, but what about those shirts you bought a size too big because it was the only choice and you really, really liked the design? I know I'm very guilty of buying a shirt I like if it's on sale, even if it isn't quite the correct size. And how many over-sized freebie t-shirts do you have sitting in drawers because you just can't bear to get rid of a perfectly good shirt?
In high school, my friends and I used to cut the sides of t-shirts in ribbons and re-tie them smaller, but if that seems a little young for your current tastes, trying turning your liked, but too large, t-shirt into a racer-back workout tank top. Doing this removes some of the extra, bulky fabric and too-long sleeves, but allows you to keep the design intact.
Turning a t-shirt into a tank top only requires a pair of scissors sharp enough to cut cloth and a t-shirt. It takes about 15 minutes and does not even require needle and thread!
How to Make a T-Shirt Tank Top
To get started, make sure your t-shirt is clean and as wrinkle-free as possible. Wrinkles in the fabric make it more difficult to cut accurately and evenly, which can detract from the appearance of your new tank top. All of the steps are illustrated in the photographs below!
To make the tank top:
- Place your t-shirt on your cutting surface. This can be a table, a cutting board, a counter top, or even the floor, if you have no other large, flat space. Try to smooth it out and make it as flat and even as possible.
- Cut away the t-shirt's collar and throw it out. Most t-shirts are cut lower in the front than in the back, but you may want to make the neck's front even deeper. However, if this is your first time creating a t-shirt tank top, I recommend only cutting off the stitched collar at this time. You can always go back after completing the tank top and make modifications, such as deepening the neck.
- Cut the bottom hem off the t-shirt, but do not throw it away. Cut it so it forms a long strip, instead of a loop, pull on it to stretch it as much as possible. Retain the strip for use in step #5. Alternatively, you can toss this strip and use a piece of t-shirt yarn in a different color for some added fun. If you don't know how to make t-shirt yarn, learn here.
- Cut the sleeves off, but do not simply follow the stitching line. Instead, decide how wide you want the finished tank top straps to be and make a cut straight down the side of the shirt, as shown. After cutting until you are just above the bottom edge of the sleeve, then make a wide curve over to the t-shirts edge. If this sounds confusing, just look at the picture. If you start the curve immediately instead of going straight, your tank top will look really goofy! It is very easy to make the arm holes too big and create a tank top that is somewhat revealing. I recommend starting by cutting small, trying the shirt on, and cutting down, if necessary.
- Flip the shirt over and find where you want the bottom edge of the racer back to begin. Tie your t-shirt yarn or stretched hem strip to this spot, pulling in the slack to make a tight knot around the bunched up shirt. Once again, just see the picture to see how it's done. I recommend tying a square knot, but any type of knot will do. If you love sewing, you can can attach this piece with a few quick stitches, but it is not necessary.
- Wrap the t-shirt yarn up the shirt, as shown, until you reach where you want the back neck hole to start.This is up to personal preference, but I left about *** inches between the top seam of the shirt and the top of the racer back. You can always try the shirt on to see where you would like the racer back to end. Once you have found your ending point, simply tie the yarn to the shirt, again, and cut away any excess.
- The last step is customizing your shirt. Try it on and see how you like the length and front neck and trim away until you reach your desired shirt silhouette. When you are cutting, remember that cut t-shirt edges tend to roll up a little, so you may "loose" an inch or more of length to rolling. I have cut off many shirts and ruined several by cutting exactly where I wanted the shirt to end without taking this rolling in to consideration. I recommend wearing it as-is, and maybe even washing it, before cutting any length.
How to Make a Tank Top from a T-ShirtClick thumbnail to view full-size
What's your favorite tee reconstruction project?
When to Wear a Racer Back Shirt
A racer back tank top is perfect for exercising, the beach, or relaxing around the house. Wherever you decide to wear it, when someone admires your unique piece of clothing, you can proudly announce "I made it!"
If you'd prefer a non-racer back tank top, you can create one by cutting and re-tying the sides. Interested in learning how? Check out my side knotted tank top tutorial! If you're looking for something without gaps or holes, I also have a tutorial on how to create a herringbone side laced tank top from an old tee.
No matter which method you choose, upcycling too big t-shirts into something cute and wearable is a fun way to spruce up your wardrobe for free.