Introduction: Sew Heroic! Hulky Shirt Project

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I enjoy the challenge of making comic-inspired clothing. They are fun to wear for Comicons and Halloween or other costume events, without being too costumey. I've been working through the different characters from the Avengers, and here is my latest iteration: The Hulk! Read on to see how you too can make a Hulky Shirt happen...

Step 1: Materials

Purple shirt(easily gotten on Amazon), matching thread, sewing needle

chalk, small scissors,

green felt, pins

optional: sewing machine, hulk magnet or pin

Step 2: The Basic Shirt

I needed a purple button-down shirt so headed straight to Amazon with those easy search terms. You want a skinny cut, with a bit of spandex for stretch. Mine was $20, 97% cotton/3% spandex. When it arrived, I was very happy with the quality - definitely good enough for what I needed it for.


The goal is to have the shirt snug all over. I tried it on in front of a mirror and analyzed the fit. I decided that the arms should be narrowed by an inch each, and the waist almost 2" off each side, tapering up to the arm, and also tapering down to the bottom of the shirt, leaving the hem undisturbed. Use the buttons as a guide for pinpoints of alterations (i.e. the smallest part of my waist was at the 6th button down).

Turn shirt inside out and chalk the new seam lines to stitch. Stitch along lines, stretching slightly as you sew. Turn right side out and check fit. If happy, great! If you don't want to serge or pink away seam allowances, just clip at waist to allow new curve to spread.

Step 3: Cut-outs to Show Hulky Skin

Find some green felt. Two tones are better than one! There are two types of felt: wool or synthetic(polyester). They will produce slightly different results as one will "felt" as you wash and dry, while the synthetic will not. I used a nice wool felt(from Italy!) because the two colors were perfect.(It did shrink up a very small amount after the wash and dry cycle, which created a nice effect.) You'll need about (2) 8" x 10" sheets if using one color, or 3 if using two colors.

Study your own muscles or look online at bodybuilding pictures. This will help you decide where to create your "rips". My guns, lats and abs are just massive, so of course I didn't need to look online. : D : D (JK! I did and it was totally helpful.)

I decided on 3 rip lines for the biceps, making the middle one a bit longer. I chalked 3 lines on each upper arm and cut out 3 rectangles from the felt about 1.5" wide by 6-8" in length.

I cut along the chalk lines, feeding each felt piece underneath and pinning, first at the ends, then the sides as I spread the "rips" open to the show the green.

Because the sleeve is a narrow tube and tricky to manipulate in the sewing machine, I hand-basted a running stitch, removed the pins, then sewed it using my machine without worry of shifting/distortion. Just a basic straight stitch on the machine for sewing the sleeve to the felt.

Step 4: Abs and Lats

Position your six-pack lines appropriately, chalking, cutting and pinning felt behind, being sure to leave enough seam allowance while also not exposing too much green. It should be subtle. Too much exposed will cause the rip to puff out, which isn't a problem if you're super-pumped, but is if you're not. : ) You can skip the hand-basting and move straight to the machine to stitch this easier, flat surface.

Looking online, I found that the upper back muscles(Trapexius) would work better for this shirt rather than the lats, which are lower and more to the side. The Trapexius muscles have a slight curve to them also, so I thought that would have a nicer aesthetic than straight lines. Pin and sew on.

Step 5: Wash and Dry for "wear"

I wanted to take the crispness out of the shirt, shrink it a bit after adding some girth, and give the rips a distressed look. A quick wash and timed dry worked nicely, the shirt being a tad damp for stretching back out some of the felting of the wool.

I tried it on to make sure I still liked the fit, then turned it inside out to trim away all the excess felt seam allowance.

Step 6: Finishing Details

Go through all of the rips and trim away wayward frays.

I bought a multi-pack of Avengers magnets and used one as a backing to hold the radiation symbol magnet to the shirt. They are surprisingly strong magnets.

Pair this shirt with some brown wool trousers(or a pencil skirt) to really complete your Superhero ensemble!

Any questions on methods, ask below.

~ Cynthia

Step 7: Sew Hulky and Fun!

: )

Oh, and here is an 'ible that I published on my Capt. America dress:

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