Introduction: T-shirt Mashup

About: I run Neal's CNC in Hayward, CA, an expert CNC cutting and fabrication service, easily findable by Google search. I'm a founding member of Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco, and Ace Makerspace (forme…

Mashups are all the rage these days. You see Google mashups, song mashups, someone somewhere is even talking about business mashups... This Instructable describes a simple way to mashup clothing. There are of course a million other ways to do this.

Suppose you have two tshirts. One fits you but has a boring image on it. The other is too small, but has a cool image. Here's a quick and easy way to combine them into one excellent shirt that fits.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

  • Two T-shirts as described in the intro

T-shirts come in various weights and qualities of fabric. This technique works best if the two shirts are made of similar fabric, but small variations will be fine. I don't recommend using woven fabric for the second shirt since it won't move in the same way as the knit, plus the edges will unravel and the patch will probably come off. Two woven shirts would work, but you'll need to keep the edges from ravelling either by hemming, serging, fabric glue, or some other method.

  • scissors
  • sewing machine (this can also be sewn by hand)
  • tape measure - optional

Get an idea of what the finished shirt will look like by folding up the one with the good image and laying it on top of the one that fits.

Step 2: Cut Up the Shirt With the Image You Like

I always start by cutting pretty much the whole front of the shirt off, as this leaves the most options. Especially if the shirt you're cutting up has a smaller image on it than the shirt that fits.

You may want to measure the size of the image you're going to cover up, to make sure your cut-up will fit completely over it. If the cut-up image is much bigger, there's really no need.

Step 3: Pin the Cutout Onto the Shirt-that-fits

I find this is MUCH easier if there is something flat inside the shirt. This way I don't pin through the back of the shirt and I don't have to keep rearranging the pins. A piece of plastic works best but cardboard will do just fine. I used the back of a yello lined pad.

In most cases, pin perpendicular to the line you're going to sew along so you don't have to take the pins out as you go along, or worry (much) about sewing over them.

Step 4: Sew the Cut-up Onto the Shirt-that-fits

Take the cardboard or whatever out of the shirt and put the shirt into the sewing machine. I like to use contrasting thread and here I've used white to match the shirt-that-fits. Use a fairly long stitch length. If the shirt fabric is very stretchy, or if the shirt is tight when it's on you, use a slight zig-zag stitch so the stitching line has some stretch to it. The stitching line will necessarily not stretch as much as the fabric but for most cases this is find. If the shirt is VERY tight on you, this probably isn't a good technique to use to alter it.

Check out the comments on the pictures for ideas about avoiding some common problems, like sewing over pins or having the lines come out uneven from one edge to the other.

Step 5: Trim the Edges Along the Sewing Line

First trim the edges of the cut-out, about an eighth of an inch out from the sewing line. Then turn the shirt inside out and trim the inside of the shirt away so you don't have two layers over the whole new image area. You don't have to trim the inside as close and as tidily as the outside.

Step 6: Wear It Proudly!

That's it. Your new mashed-up shirt(s) is(are) ready to wear. Knits don't ravel so you can wash this in the same way as before - you might get a couple of bits of fluff hanging off if you trimmed unevenly but these can just be cut off. If you trimmed too close and get a hole, just sew it up again.

The next step is just some additional tricks. I mashed up a second pair of shirts, where I had a larger original image and a smaller cover-up image, to show you some ways of dealing with that.

Step 7: More Info (optional)

For this shirt, I had a large, ugly, green image I wanted to replace with a smaller cooler image from a smaller shirt. the smaller shirt had a tiny logo on the back that I cut out but didn't end up using. This one was a bit problematic because I didn't have a lot of space above the motorcycle image to balance the space below it, because the image was printed quite close to the original shirt's neckband.

After some playing around, I came up with a shape that is kind of like a modified highway sign that I thought was appropriate for this biker pic. I'd have liked the image to be a bit lower down but this was acceptable and I simply didn't have any extra space to work with. Also because of the tightness of the space and the fact that the shape is not made of straight lines, I placed the pins along the stitching line instead of perpendicular to it. I had to take each pin out as I sewed; if you do this make sure the pins are all facing the same direction, away from you as you sew, because it is very hard to take a pin out when the sewing machine presser foot is in the way.

I didn't sew this as carefully and ended up with stitching that was too tight. I fixed this by not cutting the ends of the thread off short when I took it out of the machine, and just scootching the fabric along the stitching line until I reached a stitching end. This is easier to see pix of than read about.