Men’s T-shirt to Ruffle Tank Top tutorial.

I do love recycling men’s T-shirts.  I can go to the Goodwill and get an extra large tee for $1.25, come home with it, and make it into a lap tee for Luke, a pair of pants for Levi, or in this case, a ruffle tank for me!

Materials needed:
a tank that you like that you already have (for making a pattern)
tracing paper or sewing paper to trace your pattern onto
L/XL T-shirt of your choice
1/4″ elastic (enough to fit snuggly around your waist, and then a little bit.
sewing machine
stretch needle for your machine

1.  Take your tank top and fold it in half lengthwise.  Trace around the tank top.

2.  Lay out your XL t-shirt and cut off the sleeves, then cut up the sides and at the shoulders so that you have a front piece and a back piece.

3.  Fold the front piece in half and lay your pattern piece on the fold, with the inside edge of the pattern on the fold.  Make sure to line up the bottom of your pattern with the bottom of the t-shirt, you want to use the original bottom of the t-shirt later as a casing for elastic.  Pin into place and cut around the pattern.

4.  Repeat step #3 with the back piece.

5.  With your leftover t-shirt scraps, cut about 4 long strips of t-shirt, about 1″ wide.  Set those aside.  These will serve as the neck and arm hole trim.

6.  Right sides together, sew the front and back pieces together at the shoulders and finish the seam with a serger or zig zag stitch.

7.  Now take two of those strips of t-shirt material that you made in step #5.  Open up the shirt and lay it flat so that your neck line looks like a circle.  Start sandwiching the neck line into the strip of material, pinning as you go.  Go all the way around the neck line, overlapping the strips of fabric if you run out before you make it all the way around the neck line

8.  Stitch around the neckline at the raw edge of the trim.

9.  Grab your elastic and pin a safety pin to one end.  Thread it through the bottom band of the front panel of the tank top.  You are using the casing that was created when you cut the original t-shirt apart, easy-peasy, huh?  When you get your pin and elastic all the way through, secure the elastic by sewing across the band.  Back stitch to make it nice and secure.

10.  Bunch the material a little bit so that the bottom of the front of the tank top is gathered, then secure the elastic on that end just as you did on the other.  Repeat steps 9 and 10 for the back of the shirt.

11.  Right sides together, pin the side seams together and sew with about 1/4″-1/2″ inseam.  Finish with a serger or zig zag stitch. 

12.  Now you have a choice.  You can finish the arm holes with the leftover strips of fabric that you cut, of you can leave them raw.  It’s totally up to you.  If you choose to finish them off, just do it the exact same way as you did the neck line.

You can stop right here, or you can embellish a little bit!  

I decided to add a little ruffle to the neck line of my tank top.  I cut a strip from the scraps of the t-shirt, about 10″-12″ long and 1 1/2″ wide.  I sewed a line of basting stitches (set your stitch length to its longest length) right down the middle.  Pulling on end of the bobbin thread, I gathered the material into a ruffle that looked good to me.  I pinned it along the neck line of my top and stitched right down the middle to attach it (Don’t forget to set your stitch length back to normal).  Voila!
You can add more ruffles anywhere you want, I just like a more simple look, but I didn’t want it completely plain.

What do you think?  
Not a bad improvement from a big old men’s t-shirt, right?
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  1. melody-mae says:

    this is so creative!!!

  2. Sew Much Ado says:

    Ooh, that’s way cute!

  3. hope says:

    so cute!! where is the pic of you wearing it?! now if i can get to stop by The Lobby and grab one of those needles for me.

  4. great idea! if i get a nice big shirt, it might even fit over this belly o’ mine!

  5. great idea! if i get a nice big shirt, it might even fit over this belly o’ mine!

  6. Jenny Yarbrough says:

    You must try!!

  7. Jenny Yarbrough says:

    There’s a story behind that, Hope. I was planning on taking a pic, but it ended up in the laundry before I got the chance. 

  8. Cherie says:

    Super cute and creative!

  9. Morgan says:

    The ruffle is adorable! You made it look easy … too easy! :)

    Enjoy your SITS Day! :)

  10. Marie says:

    Oh my gosh I love it, I want one! :)

  11. Alethea says:

    So cute, what a simple idea that I’d NEVER have thought of!

  12. Liz says:

    I think even I might be able to do that. On second thought, no, I couldn’t. But it’s so cute!

  13. I’m your newest follower from SITS. I just love this tutorial. I love repurposing things, this is very clever.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Wani says:

    Adorable! Thanks for the tutorial!

  15. JmCupcakes says:

    Confused – is the elastic only on the ft side, not the back??

  16. @JmCupcakes I was confusing there, wasn’t I?? It should read for you to repeat the same thing with the back hem of the shirt as well. So sorry! I’ll fix that in the tutorial! Thanks for pointing it out to me. :)

  17. Anonymous says:

    Exactly what I was looking for! I have a t-shirt that I am trying to save, it has unsightly pit stains that I can cut off using this method.

  18. becky says:

    Thank you for the tutorial.It is written very well and made it easy for me to follow.My first clothing project was a success Thank-you again.Becky

  19. says:

    On the neck opening, after joining the shoulder seams…Use the strip you cut, only place it right sides together matching edges, start in the back and slightly stretch the trim piece as you sew. The width of the seam will be your trim width. Suggest 1/2″. Turn the trim to the inside and stitch in the ditch on the right side. You can leave the inside edge raw it will not ravel. Suggest your strip be at least 2 inches wide.

  20. Rhonda says:

    Love it!. I’m always ruining my tank tops while outside playing with the dogs , gardening, and mowing the lawn. Now I can use some of my husband’s old shirts to make “play clothes” for myself. If I ruin them, I can just make more. Thank you!

    • Yes, this tutorial is perfect for that! You’re welcome… thanks for coming by The Southern Institute!


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