T-shirt Mashup





Introduction: T-shirt Mashup

About: I run Neal's CNC in Hayward, CA, an expert CNC cutting and fabrication service. Check out what we do at http://www.nealscnc.com/. I'm a founding member of Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco, and Ac...

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.



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    18 Discussions

    well i made one using 2 shirts onto a new one(I <3 NY, nirvana and a black T)... added a stencil, added the sleaves, collar and bottom from my white shirt, added some bleach, i love making my own shirts now!

    2 replies

    Very nice, I love it! You took this mashup idea and really ran with it. Thanks for showing us the result!

    Thanks again for the EXCELLENT instructable.  I utilized a mesh jersey shirt as a base and a kids T-shirt for the applique.  I found that if you are working with two different types of fabric for both shirts, the overlock stich on a sewing machine is very forgiving.  Rather than sew up the holes though, I took the opportunity to applique Americana stars on the design for a more custom look.  I also saved the tag from the kids shirt to cover the vinyl iron on logo (a Starter shirt HEAVILY discounted) into a preppy Marvel logo that any Marvel Zombie would be proud to show off.  Considering that licensed shirts already made cost anywhere from $80-$150 brand new, my husband is proud to have for $11 - not including the custom quickie Arc reactor that he now had to make due to my creative inspiration from your instructable.

    Thanks for such a good one!  Five STARS! 

    1 reply

    That looks awesome!  I know a number of Iron Man fans who'd kill for it :)

    Very nice tutorial. I made two shirts, I found that's easier to sew if you use the same type of fabric for both shirts, it looks better and stretches the same way.

    1 reply

    That is a good point, similar fabric types will produce better results. Speaking of which, yours look great! Thanks for the pix!

    cool, i think i'll be trying this soon, i'll post pics when i do...

    Nice job, it's great to see more clothes hackers in this joint! T-shirts are some of my favorite things to mess with.

    There's also a product sold at fabric stores by Sulky called "KK2000" (that # might not be exactly right, but it's a small, white, aerosol-ish can) that I've always used for this same type of modification. You spray it onto the back of your cut-out piece and it gets really sticky. Stick your piece on and sew - no pins needed. Within either 28 or 48 hours (I'm moving and my can is packed away somewhere...) the Sulky stuff just dissipates into the atmosphere and is gone forever. It's great for all sorts of things. Also, I sometimes like to sew the edge with a zigzag stich of a contrasting color to make it even more thrown-together, handmade looking or whatever. I'm always trying to explain this to people and you've done a great job of posting it here! Thanks!

    2 replies

    I haven't heard of that before, it sounds really useful. Does the needle get the stickiness on it at all? I once sewed through something, glue or tape, that gummed up the needle and it was a real mess. Even so, I'm gonna have to get some and try it, maybe the Sulky people have solved this. Thanks for the tip!

    You could also try Stitch Witchery (sp?). It's a fusible interfacing sold by the yard. You iron the two pieces of fabric you want to stay together with the stitch witchery in between and it's enough to not only keep your fabric from slipping when sewing, but indefinitely. I use it for applique, so sort of the same idea. But keep in mind that it will tend to feel like a patch, since it's thicker (maybe not the most appealing). This is probably what I'll end up doing with my torn-up/stained/too small shirts... You trim after you sew it up??

    When sewing knits, you need to use a ball-point (yellow shank) needle & a zig zag stitch. Also if you stretch the fabric as you sew you'll have stretchy seams too. This is a good one.

    2 replies

    Thanks JanxAngel! I find that I can usually get away without changing to a ball point needle on t-shirt knits, but you're right that a ball point is recommended and it never hurts. Sometimes these are also called "stretch" needles. Generally knits with thinner fibers such as silk or rayon will be more likely to need a ball point needle. Stretching as you go will definitely produce stretchier seams. The downside of this is that they tend to stay stretched, and you get a kind of ripple effect and it doesn't lay flat any more. Experiment on the shirt you cut up and see what works for you.

    I actually made a few costume pieces for a friend out of knit and had never worked on knits before doing it. Just lots and lots of cottons and some satin here & there. Yeah if you stretch it too much you do get the ripple, but I soon worked out just how to do it.