#SewcialistsTNTee: Hacking the Humble T-Shirt

Sketch of a t-shirt with the text "Hacking the Humble T-Shirt"

T-shirts are my favourite thing to sew. Fast, simple, and so easy to hack! In preparation for our T-shirt mini-challenge, here are some ideas for how you can adapt any tee for a whole new look.

(I’m going low-fi for this post—I sketched a T-shirt with a Sharpie and traced on top of it to show different looks.)

Sketches of a t-shirt dress with a a-line skirt, a peplum top, a swing dress and a sleeveless sheath dress.

How about making your tee into a dress?

  • Add a skirt or peplum using an A-line, circular, or gathered rectangle skirt from another pattern
  • Extend the side seams down and out for a swing dress
  • Extend the side seams straight down for a sheath dress (body or fitted, depending on the T-shirt style you start with!)
Sketches of a puffed sleeved t-shirt, a top with ruffled sleeves, a cropped tee and a tunic.

Alternately, you could adjust the sleeves or the hem length:

  • Puff sleeves and bishop sleeves are popular this year, and there are lots of tutorials online
  • Circular or gathered rectangle ruffle sleeves add some glamour
  • Make a cropped top or a longer tunic
Sketches of a colour-blocked t-shirt, classic cardigan, coatigan, and tunic with a shark bite hem.

More options!

  • Try colour blocking
  • Use sweater knit or ponte to make a cardigan or long coatigan
  • Experiment with a shark-bite hem, asymmetrical hem, or high-low hem
Sketches of four necklines: v-neck, scoop, boatneck and cowl.

Change the neckline, and change the whole look!

  • V-neck, scoop, or boat necks are easy to copy from your favorite RTW or other sewing patterns
  • Stay cosy in a cowl, turtle neck, or funnel neck

If you are the type of sewist who likes clear instructions, you might be saying, “But Gillian, tell us HOW!” Well, I’m not going to give you instructions for the simple reason that a Google search will find you multiple tutorials for each of these hacks. Here are a few to get you started!

May the Google spirits be with you! If you get really stuck, feel free to ask below and maybe someone can help you out.

8 photographs of a blonde plus-size sewist wearing various hacks from one same T-shirt pattern: a short gray cardigan, a long burgundy cardigan, a teal cardigan with an asymmetrical hem, a burgundy turtleneck, an animal print shirt, a black-and-white mini dress with a geometric print, a floral print mini dress, and a mini dress with an abstract print.
All of these cardigans, dresses and tops come from just one basic pattern!

The possibilities for T-shirt hacking are literally endless! I think it’s totally possible to have a wardrobe full of hacks that no one would recognise as coming from the same pattern. For our mini-challenge, don’t limit yourself to just a classic crew-neck tee—as long as you start with a tee-shaped pattern, whatever you make will count.

Do you like to hack your T-shirt patterns into something new? Have we inspired you to get creative during this mini-challenge?


Dear Reader: Our goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. We support crafting as an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes. Regarding sewing challenge themes, we ask that you take each challenge as you see it fitting in your life, and express your involvement how you like, at the given time. Our challenges are for the pure enjoyment of participation and the love of community. Extended Mission Page Here.