Save that Shirt–Remaking an Unflattering Tee

Ok-so they may not be vintage but I use a lot of tee shirts in my Kikis Rewind Designs.  Tees, especially old tees are great sources for the words I use in my reclaimed fabric collages  like the “Green Me” bag below. 

But great words or not– there’s no way I  was going to cut up a very cool tee best-pal Melissa brought me from the Botanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro .  I wanted to wear it proudly.  Only one problem– most tee shirts look terrible on me.

Here’s how I remade Melissa’s gift into a knit top I love to wear–

1) Cut off that awful neck-band.  You know the one I mean–the one that makes you look like you raided some man’s  underwear drawer. 

2) Match shoulder seams and fold side ways.  ( Remember cutting out valentines in elementary school? Same kind of fold)

3) Now cut a new neckline (top photo), sticking pretty close to the original band at back and shoulder seams, but taking a little scoop in the front.  (Not too much–you’ll can always cut off more, but you can’t add it back.)

4) After trying your shirt on, press and turn under a narrow hem (1/4 to 3/8 inch).  Tee shirt knit doesn’t ravel, so the raw edge is fine

5) Pin or baste–this fabric wanted to curl under so I basted my new neckline

6) Now stitch, using a narrow zig-zig stitch.  Zig-zag has more stretch than your machine’s straight stitch so it makes great sense for knits.

7) Remove basting, press your new neckline and you’re done. 

Thanks for the great shirt, Melissa.  It’s one I really love to wear.

Final Note:  If you’re harvesting words from old tees,  make sure to also repurpose the rest of the shirt.  All-cotton  knit makes great rags for cleaning, painting and furniture staining.  I always have a box of tee scraps in the garage and it’s very, very useful.    So save that fabric too!



  1. This is awesome. I saw the before and after…the new version is not only more modern, but more flattering. Plus–you will wear it more now because it fits better and looks better.

    Awesome job!

    I have a few shirts I am going to try this on…maybe I will bring them out of the depths of my closet and wear them again….

    Sew on!

    • Thanks for the great shirt and the great comment. I have always steered clear of tee shirts in my travels because they look so frumpy on me. Now I’m going to buy and remake them. And like you, I’m dragging out a tee from the back of the closet– Greece’s largest University, a gift from my big brother’s trip.

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