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Recycle a T-shirt and make a tube top

Updated on December 20, 2014

Recycle and repurpose t-shirts into fashionable tube tops

Repurposed clothing has become a high fashion trend. Many stores like Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, and American Eagle sell items that appear to have been torn apart and remade. It is a lot more fun and a whole lot cheaper when you do it yourself. Besides saving good clothing from landfills, when you wear a garment like this, you know you have a unique designer item. Designer? Yes, you are the designer!

Tube top made from a t-shirt
Tube top made from a t-shirt

Easy to make

Easy to fit

This little square tube top can be made from a t-shirt that is too big for the intended wearer. There is a little shaping done on this one to bring the waist in slightly. That is not necessary.t. The ties and bands are made from extra fabric left over from the t-shirt.


You will need a t-shirt that is significantly larger than the intended wearer. Most tshirts that we have collected over the year from various events are usually XLarge anyway, aren't they? Try to find an interesting design on a shirt to make it extra special. You will also need matching thread and elastic for the bands. (If you use my secret elastic method, you will need an old-time diaper pin.)

T-Shirt Surgery: cutting the shirt

Starting with a rather large t-shirt, cut across the shirt from armpit to armpit. If there is a design that you are trying to preserve, be careful to avoid ruining the design.

Cutting the bands for the top and bottom

Hold the shirt up to the intended wearer and determine where you want the shirt to fall on the hips. (Remember there will be a narrow band of fabric attached at the bottom and a larger band with elastic attached at the top.) Cut across the bottom, which hopefully will yield a nice wide piece of fabric for the banding.

Attaching upper and lower bands to shirt

Cut strips twice the width that you want; the upper one should be wider to hold the shirt up when elastic is threaded through. The bottom band will be more like a little sash, tying at the side, without elastic. The length of the strips will vary, of course, but you will probably need to piece the scraps of the t-shirt together to get the length that you need.

For the top band, fold the strip together lengthwise and sew, and then sew the ends together so that the band fits around the top of the shirt. Pin the sewn edge of the band against the raw edge of the shirt, right sides together. Sew around to attach to the top.

Cut the bottom band longer than you might think is necessary to allow for the little ties at the sides. Fold the bottom band lengthwise, too, and sew the edges together. Pin the little band around the bottom of the shirt.

Inserting the elastic

Including my own special secret

You need to insert a suitably wide elastic into the top band of the tube top. The easiest way to do this is to slice a neat opening on the wrong side of the shirt. Take a diaper pin and attach to the elastic, threading through the shirt. Secure the elastic with the diaper pin, and allow the intended wearer to try it on. Adjust the elastic to the tightness that is needed, and secure again with the diaper pin.

Sew the elastic together, remove the diaper pin, and clip the ends. Neatly sew the hole closed. .

Tell us about your tshirt surgery! - Or maybe another clothing prepurposing project

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    • tricomanagement profile image

      tricomanagement 5 years ago

      great ideas - have some tees I just love but the necklines are becoming worn - thanks

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 5 years ago

      This looks like a great way to use up those old t-shirts and remake them into something worthwhile. I have about 30 t-shirts to use - are you busy??? LOL

    • psiloveyou1 profile image

      psiloveyou1 5 years ago

      Very cool! I will have to show this to my teenage daughter.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Cute. So far my largest shirt remake is to remove the sleeves to create a vest. I like your design much better ;)