Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tutorial: Upcycled Striped Bow Tank

upcycled bow t-shirt (54)
I have been wanting some new summer tops. However, the chance to get anywhere to shop has evaded me for several weeks. 
So I raided my [small, yet growing] stash of thrift-store finds.   

I refashioned a striped shirt (it was a long sleeved girls’ size XL). I got it for $1. I took scraps from another t-shirt and made it into this! 

I really love how it is longer, almost tunic-length. I love the vertical stripes at the bottom. I also love that the neckline isn't too low. Which is a problem I have experienced with tank tops sold in various stores.
recycled bow t-shirt (31)

I love my new $1 shirt.
upcycled bow t-shirt (1.1)

It all started like this….

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I was going to use that hot pink fabric pictured above. Ignore that! 
I changed my mind and used some pale pink instead.
I started by cutting off the sleeves. I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do at first but the shoulders of the shirt were just too tight. So the sleeves had to go.
 upcycled bow t-shirt (3)
I decided the neck had to go as well. So I cut around one side…
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To make the neck symmetrical, I flipped the part I had cut over and cut around it like a pattern.
 upcycled bow t-shirt (5)

This is what the neckline looked like prior to binding. The straps were really skinny.
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I made binding from a pink t-shirt by folding a 2” wide piece in half and then pressing the edges under about 1/4”. I pinned it to each armhole (with loads of pins).
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I did a double row of stitching to secure the binding.
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For the neck binding, a cut strips 2 1/2” wide and followed the same technique to make, pin and sew the binding.
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I let the seam of the binding be in the front. I later covered this seam with a bow.
upcycled bow t-shirt (10) upcycled bow t-shirt (11) 

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To make the bow, I sewed a tube of 2 1/2” wide strip of jersey. I turned it right sides out, ironed it flat, and starched it before tying it into a bow.
upcycled bow t-shirt (13) upcycled bow t-shirt (14)

The shirt was a bit short for my taste. I removed the bottom hem and pressed the old hem flat.
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To add extra length to the shirt and create the contrasting stripes’ direction at the bottom of the shirt, I used the former sleeves.
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I needed two 17” widths of fabric.
To get as much fabric as possible from each sleeve, I first cut off the cuff as close to the stitching as possible.
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Then I opened each sleeve up right at the seam. upcycled bow t-shirt (18)
I cut two 18” x 4 1/2” wide pieces (one from each sleeve). I allowed a 1/2” seam allowance.upcycled bow t-shirt (19)

After sewing the short edges of the 18” x 4 1/2” strips into a tube, I started pinning the right sides of this wide tube to the bottom of the shirt.
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I lined up the seams, pinned with lots of pins, and sewed it onto the bottom of the shirt using a stretch stitch. I pressed it flat. upcycled bow t-shirt (21)

I opted not to hem the bottom. Since it is a jersey knit, it will roll and not fray. I like the look of jersey rolling at the edge.

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Now I have a shirt that fits and looks good. Since it didn't cost much, I won’t mind wearing it for everyday tasks…going to the park, cleaning up sandy footprints, cooking…
upcycled bow t-shirt (58.1)

Here are a few more pictures. Hope this inspires & equips you to raid a thrift store and make a new shirt for your everyday summer wardrobe.
upcycled bow t-shirt (53)

Positively Splendid


  1. This is so cute! I have a thrift store shirt I've been trying to figure out what to do with... it might become a tank top!

  2. This is a cool idea! Thanks for sharing!! :-)

  3. this is so cute...i love the stripes

  4. You did such a great job with that shirt! The binding looks great, and the pale pink is a great color for it. Thanks so much for linking this and the shirred shirt up to The Fun In Functional and sharing them with all of us!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks! I might have to make another one...I have another striped shirt calling my name.

  6. This turned out great! I love to see things upcycled.

  7. Super cute! And I read the entire post with a smile when I realized that my daughter had this same shirt. Wish I'd been as creative as you with the shirt.

    1. THat is so funny that she had this shirt! I love the stripes.


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