Turn a boring T-shirt into a stylish embellished top with this easy no-no sew technique. All you need is a small piece of thin leather and some strong fabric glue. Varied colors and textures of leather will give your design different looks, but I think this technique looks especially nice with a metallic leather because it creates an effect like a shattered glass, a disco ball or one of those metallic flash tattoos everyone is wearing this summer.
You can find garment weight leather at most fabric stores, or you could easily re-purpose leather from an old thrift shop garment. I got this silver leather at Tandy Leather which is a great source for leather if you want large pieces.
Step 1: Supplies
- A T-shirt you want to embellish
- Thin garment weight leather - I used silver, but other colors would look nice too
- Washable fabric glue like Magnatac, Fabritac or Fabric Fusion
- Paper or wax paper, a pencil and a ruler
- Inspiration for your design - I looked at photos of shattered glass to help inspire the style of my embellishment
- A sketch - I drew out a rough version of the design I wanted to create and referred back to it as I worked, but you could just as easily work without a sketch
Step 2: Create Your Shirt Shape
Before adding the embellishment to my shirt, I cut it in a few place to give it a new shape.
First I trimmed the sleeves, cutting up from just below the underarm point up, trimming off the hem of the sleeves.
Then I slit the sleeve along the overarm all the way up to the armhole seam. This lets the sleeve open up an have a nice drape and flutter.
Last I folded the shirt in half and then trimmed the bottom of the hem, making the sides slightly shorter than the front and back.
Step 3: Add Shoulder Diamonds
The first piece of embellishment I added to my shirt was two large triangles on the shoulders. Having these two symmetrical pieces helped anchor the design as I filled in the rest of the pieces.
I first measured the shoulder width and then cut two identical diamonds of silver leather as long as this measurement.
I folded the shirt so the shoulders were facing up and put a piece of paper between the layers of fabric so I wouldn't end up gluing them together.
Then I spread glue all over the bottom of my leather diamonds and pressed them down onto the shoulders of the shirt.
Step 4: Embellish
Now I lay my shirt out flat with paper in between the two layers of fabric, and began cutting and arranging pieces of leather along the collar to look like shattered glass.
When I had all my pieces arranged the way I liked, I glued them down, being sure to spread glue thoroughly over the backs and press them down firmly.
When I was done, I peeled away any places where glue was sticking the fabric to the paper, and left the whole thing to dry for a little while.
Step 5: Cut
Finally, I added a little cut-out detail to the shoulders by cutting out the center of the large silver diamonds.
Step 6: Be Shiny
I was pretty pleased with my shiny new shirt. The silver leather really catches the light nicely and definitely transforms a simple T-shirt into a much more exciting garment.
If you really want to give your embellishment durability, you could sew down the pieces with a sewing machine. I tried this and it worked fairly well once the pieces were glued. However, with the right kind of glue it should hold together pretty well, especially of you make sure to only wash it by hand.