How To Make a T-shirt into a Tank Top

Girl wearing tank top
Running low on tank tops this summer? Not partial to the big and baggy sleeves on your new tee? Why not turn your favorite t-shirt into a tank top instead? This quick and easy guide will help you to make a t-shirt into a tank top in no time at all.

Step 1

Gather your supplies. For this t-shirt makeover, you'll need the following items:

  • A t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Chalk or a fabric crayon
  • Thread/needle or a sewing machine
  • Sewing pins
  • An iron

Step 2

Cut off the sleeves. The first step to turning a t-shirt into a tank top is cutting off the sleeves. To do this, first turn your t-shirt inside out. You need to be able to see the seams for reference. Using a sharp pair of scissors and your seams as a cutting guide, cut off both sleeves at the inside edge of the seam. Avoid cutting the sleeve off while it's laying flat - you can't ensure a straight cut this way. Instead, cut your sleeve through a single layer, working your way around the entire sleeve.

Step 3

Shorten the shirt. In general, tank tops are much shorter than t-shirts. So in addition to cutting off the sleeves of the t-shirt, you'll also need to trim away a bit of the bottom of your t-shirt in order to make it look more like a tank top. Use your ruler or measuring tape and your chalk line to mark a 2" cut line around the entire bottom of your shirt. Cut off more if you prefer. (Just be sure to measure the new length first by holding up the shirt to your chest before you make any cuts.) Again, cut your fabric in a single layer, working your way around the entire bottom.

Step 4

Sew along your cut lines. Once you have cut off the sleeves and the bottom of your t-shirt, it should now resemble a tank top. And if you're happy with the grunge look, you can stop at this stage. However, if you want to avoid fraying, you should really sew a seam into the arms and bottom of your new tank top. You can do this by hand or with a sewing machine (don't be intimidated - a sewing machine is quite simple to operate).

Start by first rolling the cuff of your tank top up at least ½". Use your ruler and some chalk to make a consistent hem all the way around your tank top sleeve. Then use your iron to flatten the sleeve so that your hem won't shift. Use pins to keep your fold in place. Do this for both sleeves, and for the bottom of your tank top.   

Regardless if you are sewing by hand or with a machine, your seam needs to use a tight stitch. (A straight stitch will do!) That means that there should be no gaps between where the thread goes down into the fabric and comes up again to make a new stitch. Your sewing machine will do this automatically. The tighter the stitch, the longer your hem will last on your new tank top.


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