The T-Shirt Hack (Or: How to Revamp an Old T-shirt With Nothing But Scissors)




About: I am obsessed with making things, and am developing a love affair with upcycling. I make babywearers and other funky parenting tools, and teach people how to wear their babies. I am a work in progress, ent...

How to make an old hum-ho t-shirt (that you ignore in the back of your closet til everything else is in the wash) into something funky & unique that you'll want to wear all the time! Using nothing more than scissors. (Pen optional.)

Step 1: You Will Need...

You Will Need:

  • a hum-ho t-shirt that needs a second life
  • scissors
  • (optional) a pen

Step 2: Choosing Where to Cut

There are lots of places you can 'hack' on your t-shirt: I've done sleeves, sides, and 2 different kinds of back, and I can see applications for a frontal hack as well (maybe just halfway down).

For the purposes of this instructable, we are doing an hourglass spine hack.

If you would like precision, grab your pen and mark two rows of dots on the back of the shirt to indicate where you're cutting to and from.

I've placed mine wider at the top and bottom to create an hourglass effect - helps my figure look curvier! (or so I theorize at this point)

You can make a narrow hack, say - the width of your spine, or you can hack from side seam to side seam - its up to you. It doesn't have to be centred either - I just like it that way.

In short: Decide where you'd like your Hack to go!

Step 3: Start Cutting

cut from dot to dot.

Or randomly where you have chosen.

the idea here is to make strips. they must be longer than they are wide, otherwise they'd be too hard to manipulate for the under-over-y bit.

Step 4: Trimming Bits Off Etc.

cut the bottomest strap/piece in half.

cut off the neck band.

I hated the arm cuffs so I cut those off too :) Besides, it made it more uniform - matched the neckline that way.

Step 5: The Under-Over-y Bit (that I Mentioned Earlier...)

ok, this is simple - but hard to explain. So I've made a wee video of me doing it, which may do the explaining better than pictures and words.

Step 6: Tying Off

ok, now your end result should look like pic1 of this step.

pull the chopped halves of the last strap through the last loop, as in pic2, and knot off in the corners (pic3).

Your end end result should now be pic 4!

Step 7: Stick It on and Dance Around!

Note to readers: it is hard to photograph your own back. :)

But it looked something like this, when I'd finished my T-shirt Hack!

I did a second one, with two rib hacks instead, and have the final result picture of that for you here as well.
How to? same as the hourglass spinal hack we just walked through, but on the sides.

Good luck! :)

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62 Discussions


5 years ago

So trying it


5 years ago

I just don't get how to tie it off…


5 years ago

This is exactly what I needed because all I had was scissors and a t-shirt! Lol.


6 years ago on Step 7

just read and done this, been wanting to know for so long :) thanks very cool easy to understand instuctions :)

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Step 7

thanks :D glad you found it easy!


Reply 6 years ago on Step 5

I have emailed you in reply - I'll post it here as well in case it can be of assistance to someone else as well.

Imagine these are some of the straps you've cut into the tee:


Hold strap 1 in the middle and pull it up over strap 2, so it looks like this:

1- ---1
2--\-------+------/----2 ( the + is where you pick up strap 2 in the next step)
\_______/ (just imagine that this lines up properly!)

OK now pick up strap 2 in the middle where you can see it underneath strap 1, and pull it up over strap 3 (at this stage you can let go of strap 1, as it will be held by strap 2, where the pluses are in the following diagram.):

1- ----1
2-+_________+---2 (The ____ line here is strap 1, running underneath strap 2, from + to +)
\_______/ (just imagine that this lines up properly!)

basically, keep repeating those steps again and again til you get to the end of your straps: lift the first strap up and over the next strap, grab that next strap through the gap in the middle, and lift THAT strap up and over the NEXT strap, and grab *that* one in the middle, etc. etc. :)


7 years ago on Step 7

Wow! I tried this just today and did the sides instead of the back. This is a really great instructable, it had enough detail to get us through it, but short and to the point enough that it wasn't boring or tiresome. I really liked that you threw in the suggestion to cut off the arm bands along with the neck, as I too like the more uniform. This is the best way I have found to mod a tee shirt and I will for sure use it again! (Everywhere my dad goes on training or courses, he brings me back a shapeless too big tee shirt!)


7 years ago on Introduction

This is AWESOME. I have never done or tried anything like this before and you made it so easy. Granted, there was a bit of confusion during the twisting part (that I blame on lack of experience on my part) but overall a great and fun thing to do. I have a new shirt to wear at no cost to me! :D


8 years ago on Step 7

This was a totally awesome and clear tutorial. I chopped up my husband's extra large cotton shirt (it has no stretch to it) and now it fits as a tight large/medium women's t-shirt. Thanks so much! And the video clip was a big help. :D


8 years ago on Step 7

Love it!!!!! It was so easy to do.


8 years ago on Introduction

I love this! Thanks so much, I'm working on modding up my own shirt! :)


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

well...technically this is fairly unisex - it's just on a woman cause I'm one :) A guy could have a MEAN spinal hack - and can have front hacks where girls would look indecent.

Don't let gender limit you! :) give it a whirl, old tee shirts were MADE for this.


8 years ago on Introduction

Thats really a unque idea, just got this post by chance, but really informative one.


10 years ago on Introduction

I did this tonight! I was super excited :D THANK YOU! I have pictures... The things on the front i thought would be cool to have and it worked way better than i thought. Plus it's really a simple process :D

2 replies