A few months ago a reader wrote in and asked me to write a t-shirt surgery tutorial.

If you haven’t head of t-shirt surgery it’s basically when you take a plain old t-shirt and you make it into something cooler and more fashionable. There is a community for it here where you can see some fantastic examples.

So anyway when I got the request I didn’t think it was something I would do because I don’t wear t-shirts often… but it stayed in my mind for ages and I kept thinking about it more and more until I had an idea ๐Ÿ˜€ When we were in Singapore for the Nuffnang Awards, Nuffnang Australia was lovely enough to give us all shirts. Mine had the slogan “I’m famous (in the blogosphere)” hahaha! I thought it was awesome but they only had large sizes so since then I’ve used it to sleep in… but no more!

Making this…

T-Shirt Surgery

From this….

T-Shirt Surgery

Into this….

What you need for this particular t-shirt surgery tutorial:

  • Large shirt (I’m using my Nuffnang one)
  • Other shirt in a cute colour. I’m using an old pink Emily the Strange shirt
  • Needle and thread
  • Thin elastic
  • Flowers or decoration
  • Scissors
  • Overlocker or sewing machine
  • Shirt that actually fits you (for measuring)

Please note that I am hand stitching almost everything here because my sewing machine has been packed up for the move, if given the choice I would definitely use a machine for this project. I am going to redo the stitching when we get to the new house ๐Ÿ˜€

T-Shirt Surgery

First turn your white shirt inside out. Lay your white tee on a flat surface and place the shirt that fits you over the top. Line up the shoulder seams to make sure it’s in the right place.

T-Shirt Surgery

Cut the bottom off in line with your nice shirt.

T-Shirt Surgery

Cut up the side seems around 1.5cm away from your nice shirt’s seam, this is to give it enough room for the new seam we’re going to sew. You will notice when you’re cutting that the seam is probably not a straight line but instead it curves slightly. This curve will give the waist some shape so if you want to adjust this now is the time!

T-Shirt Surgery

Cut until you reach just below the sleeves.

T-Shirt Surgery

Following the line of the sleeves cut around at an angle. Now it just looks like a longer sleeve ^_^

T-Shirt Surgery

Fold the shirt in half and repeat on the other side.

T-Shirt Surgery

So this is what you should end up with… it pretty much just looks like a smaller shirt now ^_^

T-Shirt Surgery

Now let’s cut a new neckline! Turn it the right way out so you can see what you’re working on. I chose a square neckline so I could show up pretty necklaces. I started by cutting out the collar carefully and then kept cutting until I reached the neckline I wanted.

T-Shirt Surgery

Now get your coloured shirt and lay it out…

T-Shirt Surgery

Cut the back section from the shirt, you want to remove all of the seams. You will end up with something this shape.

T-Shirt Surgery

Lay the pink version over the white shirt. You should cut the sides and the neckline to match the white shirt. The pink part should be on the same side as the writing/pattern you want on the front of the shirt. You’ll end up with this:

T-Shirt Surgery

Now you should use your overlocker (or sewing machine) to stitch up the sides. Start from the bottom and sew towards the sleeves, continue until there’s no hole left ^_^

T-Shirt Surgery

Now at the top where the straps of the pink part are, there should be a strip of interfacing on the white shirt. Sew the pink to the white. Most shirts have it but if yours doesn’t just sew it into whatever seam is there.

T-Shirt Surgery

You end up with this (although mine is terribly hand stitched).

T-Shirt Surgery

Now move over to the sleeves, cut around 4cm off the ends. Repeat on the other side.

T-Shirt Surgery

Measure a piece of thin elastic around the top of your arm and cut in two.

T-Shirt Surgery

Sew the elastic around 4cm from the edge of the sleeve. While you sew stretch it to the correct size so when it’s unstretched it will form a ruffle. Mine looks a bit dodgy because it’s hand stitched >_<

T-Shirt Surgery

So how you have something like this ๐Ÿ˜€

T-Shirt Surgery

Turn your shirt the right way out now and fold it in half down the middle with the pattern facing out. This next part is all about measuring. From the bottom of your pattern (my pattern is the slogan on the front) fold the shirt in 3 sections. Place a small marker at each fold.

T-Shirt Surgery

Flatten the shirt out again but keep it folded in half. The pink strip below is marking how far in were going to cut, it should be as far in as the markers are apart. It’s a little hard to explain but it should kind of form a square.

T-Shirt Surgery

Now do the actual cutting! DO NOT CUT THE PINK FABRIC! Only cut the white.

T-Shirt Surgery

Repeat on the other side so you end up with this:

T-Shirt Surgery

Now we’re going to make the sections into little bows ๐Ÿ˜€

T-Shirt Surgery

Cut 3 strips of the hem of the pink shirt.

T-Shirt Surgery

Fold them in half and use them to form the center of the bow. Sew it all in place like this:

T-Shirt Surgery

On the bottom bow place a small holding stitch through the white and pink so the bottom bow will keep it’s shape.

T-Shirt Surgery

Now let’s go back to the neckline! Cut the rest of the hem off the pink shirt and measure it out like this:

T-Shirt Surgery

Sew along the seams that are already there. Do the sides first and continue around the back.

T-Shirt Surgery

Add a final piece to the front and cover the edges ^_^

T-Shirt Surgery

I decided to add some chiffon flowers to the neckline just to girly it up some more. I’m going to add more as soon as I can unpack my craft supplies and dig them out XD

T-Shirt Surgery

And so there you have it! Finished and much more my taste than the original ๐Ÿ˜€

T-Shirt Surgery

And of course it’s time to try it on!

T-Shirt Surgery

Close up of the bows…

T-Shirt Surgery

Mwahaha and no I’m not conceited enough to think I’m *actually* famous in the blogosphere, it’s just meant to be cute and funny ๐Ÿ˜›

T-Shirt Surgery

Well there you go, my first attempt at t-shirt surgery and I’m pretty happy with the results! So much so that I’m going to wear it tomorrow to the going away party that Nuffnang is throwing James and I ๐Ÿ˜€ I even made a little matching surprise but you’ll have to wait for the event to see!
Love Violet
What do you all think? Should I made more of these? Would you ever actually try a t-shirt surgery tutorial like this?