This no-sew fashion project is simple yet satisfying. No special skills or knowledge are needed to make this adorable top. Take an afternoon to make it and then wear it proudly to a beach, pool party, outdoor mall, concert, summer festival, etc!
Step 1: Materials
Long, fitted t-shirt (It should go a few inches past your hips. I used a 100% cotton shirt, but a cotton + synthetic blend should work okay, too. Be sure to wash & dry your shirt if it isn't pre-shrunk.)
Pencil (A dark one if your shirt is light; a light one if your shirt is dark. A tailor's chalk pencil would work best, but I got by with a Crayola white colored pencil.)
Optional: rotary cutter and cutting mat
Optional: beads (See note in Step 4 about bead hole size.) and a bead threader (I used a dental floss threader.)
Step 2: Cut Out Shirt Hem and Sleeves
Using fabric scissors, cut off the bottom hem of the shirt, just above the hem stitching. Then decide what shape you want the upper part of your tank top to have. You can either lay a tank top over your shirt and trace its shape with your pencil, or you can improvise the shape (with the help of your ruler to keep things even). When improvising, I found it helpful to turn the shirt inside-out so that I could see the shoulder seams. Cut out the sleeves (and neckline, if desired) to achieve the tank top shape you want. In the picture I drew a few ideas for tank top shapes.
Step 3: Mark Fringe Upper Limit and Fringe Lines
Put on the shirt and decide how high you want to cut the fringe strips. I recommend stopping the fringe a couple inches below the bust. Mark where you prefer with the pencil. Take off the shirt and lay it down right-side out with the front facing up. Using your ruler, draw a straight line across the shirt at the point where you marked it. Now decide how wide you want to cut your fringe strips. For my project, I cut 1/2"-wide strips and ended up with 32 strips across. In order to do the macrame technique I feature in this tutorial, you need your total number of fringe strips to be a multiple of 4. So in order to get the right number of strips, you may need to adjust your strip width to 3/8" or 5/8." I wouldn't recommend deviating far from 1/2"-wide strips. Use your ruler and pencil to mark the lines you will cut for the fringe. Be sure to check for even spacing of your lines from top to bottom; it's easy to mess that up.
Step 4: Cut Fringe
Cut out the fringe using your scissors or rotary cutter. Since you are cutting through both the front & back of the shirt at once, be careful to not let the back of the shirt move out of place as you are cutting. A note about side seams if your shirt has them: I ended up cutting out the side seams since the bulky stitching wouldn't work well as fringe. Make sure your total number of fringe strips is still a multiple of 4 if you decide to do this, too.
Step 5: Plan the Beading
See the diagram for ideas on where you can use beads in your macramé design. (This diagram will make more sense in the next step when the knot pattern is explained.) When slipping two or more fringe strips through a single bead, you will most likely need the help of a threader. In the diagram is a picture showing how to thread a bead. A note about bead size: You need the bead hole diameter to be 6mm (just under 3/16") in order to fit TWO 1/2"-wide fringe strips through it. If you want to fit FOUR 1/2"-wide fringe strips through a bead, you need the bead hole to be 11mm (about 5/16") in diameter.
Step 6: Tie Macramé Knots
With your shirt laid right-side out and front facing up, start tying square knots beginning with the far-right (or far-left; it doesn't matter) fringe strip that you cut on the front of the shirt. Follow the diagram for making one row of square knots all around the tank. Then repeat with a second row in an alternate pattern as shown in the diagram. (The fringe strands are shown in two different colors to reduce confusion about which strands are used where.) When adding beads to the fringe below your square knots, be sure to tie overhand knots immediately below the beads to keep them from slipping off the fringe strips. Tip: Don't make your knots very tight when you first make them because you may need to do a little adjusting as you go along to keep your work even. When you're satisfied with the knots, go ahead and tighten them.
Step 7: Care Instructions
I don't know how well the knots would fare in a washing machine & dryer, so I recommend hand-washing your tank top and laying it flat to dry.