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How to Make a Custom T-shirt

Highlight your individuality by customizing a T-shirt -- without much time, effort, or money. Here are some ideas to get you started.


  • Step 1: Paint them Channel your inner Jackson Pollock by splattering on some fabric paint. You could also design a picture or write your own message to the world.
  • Step 2: Tie-dye them Tie-dye it; this 60s fad never goes out of style.
  • Step 3: Change the sleeves Snip off the sleeves for an instant update. Or simply change the sleeve style: Women can create butterfly sleeves by taking one inch off each sleeve and then cutting a slit from the top of the sleeve to the bottom. Or, shorten them in an arch pattern to create cap sleeves.
  • Step 4: Alter the neckline Transform a crewneck into a scoop neck or a V-neck with just a snip of your scissors.
  • TIP: For a more polished look, hem the new neckline. Use colored thread for contrast.
  • Step 5: Make a tube top Take a too-tight T-shirt, cut off the top, trim with elastic in a funky pattern, and you’ve got a stylish tube top.
  • Step 6: Add laces Add pizazz by cutting two rows of small holes and tying them up like shoelaces, using ribbon or strips of leather. Lace up the back of the shirt for a corset look.
  • TIP: Lacing up part of the shirt is a good way to take in a too-baggy tee.
  • Step 7: Make jagged edges Slice up the hem to make jagged edges. Then take some of those cut pieces and use them to tie the shoulder tops of a sleeveless T-shirt.
  • Step 8: Dress it up Add buttons, rhinestones, sequins, patches, fringe, lace, bows, glitter, iron-on appliques, or whatever else you can think of.
  • Step 9: Gather it up Gather up fabric to add interesting folds, and anchor them with a brooch or an oversized safety pin.
  • Step 10: Get punked Punk it up by adding leather strips, chains, spikes, studs, safety pins, zippers--or all of the above. Rip a few holes in it for good measure.
  • FACT: The first promotional T-shirt was made in 1939 for The Wizard of Oz.

You Will Need

  • T-shirt
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Tie-dye kit
  • Scissors
  • Elastic
  • Ribbon or strips of leather
  • Trimmings
  • Brooch or an oversize safety pin
  • Punk accessories
  • Colored thread

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