how to modify a tee with only scissors and safety pins

June 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm 6 comments

Happy Pride, everyone!

Speaking of which, I really wanted to get one of Old Navy’s Pride-themed t-shirts this year. I don’t know why it became such a quest for me, but I must’ve gone in at least half a dozen times over two weeks to two different Old Navy stores in Chicago. The last time I went into the State St. store, they had four left: two designs, all men’s size Large.

I decided I’d get one and somehow modify it to fit and look cute. Here’s the before:

What to do? While I can handle a needle and thread enough to sew a button back on, I wanted this to involve nothing but scissors and maybe safety pins, which seemed like a fun thing for Pride. I looked up modifications online and watched a few YouTube vids for ideas but ultimately ended up making something I hadn’t been able to find anyone else explaining. Maybe it’ll help you too!

First I grabbed a t-shirt that fit me well – snug and flattering – and laid in on top of the tee. I outlined it lightly in pencil to see how much excess there was.

Then I cut off the sleeves.

Next I cut off the collar.

Now it looks like this. It could be a tank top easily, but it was still way too big (and boring) for me.

So I cut right up the side seams of the shirt, all the way to where my arm holes now are. And here is where those light pencil marks come into play from outlining my shirt. After cutting up the seam, I cut off more of the excess fabric, right around to wear I made my pencil markings.

After trying it on – aka laying what was then just one piece of fabric over my head – I used a safety pin to mark what felt comfortable for the arm holes. Then I laid the shirt down so the side was “flat” and started to re-create my seam – this time with safety pins. Use however many you like. I specifically chose the large ones and bought a total of 60. I randomly ended up doing 16 pins down the side. I also put them all in the same direction, but, again, that’s totally up to you.

Repeat on the other side.

Let’s check it out:

Nice. I cut the neckline a bit wider, and we have this:

Front and back are still pretty long, so I trimmed them a bit. Now this could be done if you like, but I wanted to add a little more pizzazz – and ventilation! – for the Pride parade. I decided I’d put a cute heart cut-out in the back. Keep scrolling, and you’ll see what I mean, promise!

Sorry the lighting and contrast is kinda jacked in this photo; had to adjust them so you could (hopefully) see the details. First, I folded the shirt in half to find the center, and I made a small mark where I wanted the top/middle of the heart to be. Then I unfolded it and lightly freehanded half a heart in pencil (above).

Then I folded again, making it as even as possible and making sure I only had the BACK of the tee.

Then I cut out my heart as evenly as possible. There are some little rough spots, but once it’s done, you won’t notice at all.

Now here’s what we’ve got:

But you’re not done with the heart yet! Fold it in half again…

…and cut a strip off the outside so you’re left with a smaller heart. Now put it back in its place on your tee:

Don’t worry if your shapes aren’t a perfect match. It just has to be close enough.

Now it’s time for more pins! I safety pinned the top and bottom first to anchor the design and make it more centered and secure as I carefully worked my way around with 28 total pins.

And it’s finished!

I’m ready for Pride!

How cute is this?

I also did a fun rainbow manicure with bright colored French tips.

I enjoyed my silly French tips, but my friend Jamie went the classic route.

I got lots of compliments on this. And man, it got hot – glad I had my heart and side ventilation! Although I definitely got a bit burnt, as you can see from my pink upper back here, despite many applications of sunblock. Oops!

What a fun, super successful Pride parade. I LOVE these people. :)

Let me know if you decide to modify a tee – I’d be curious to see how creative people can get!


Entry filed under: Cara's Guide to..., Events, Hair, Nails & Makeup, What I Wore. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erinn  |  June 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Sarah Goldman was always able to modify the Sponge Repro shirts into something adorable…I was always jealous and still curious as to the method.

    Also, I wish I had been there this weekend instead, I always miss pride everywhere!

    • 2. Cara  |  June 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      Funny! Sarah was actually with me when I bought this shirt, and she got one too! I don’t know if she was able to mod hers or not. I texted her, but sadly we didn’t end up meeting up in the crazy fray today.

      Wish you would have been here too! Katy and I had a blast along with all my other friends. You’ll see pics soon! Also she stripped down to her bra while we fashioned her a top out of a scarf. No pics of that. She’s so hardcore.

  • 3. Andrea  |  June 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

    I love your different color french tips! Those are really cute!

    • 4. Cara  |  June 27, 2011 at 8:44 am

      Thanks! I did a regular rainbow last year (like Jamie’s), so I wanted to do something different this year. Also I couldn’t decide on colors, so I used lots. :)

  • 5. Mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Super cute Cara!

    • 6. Cara  |  June 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

      Thank you!


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20-something Chicagoan, pop culture lover, and graduate of the Clinton Kelly School of Fashion, sharing & snarking on shoes, frocks, jackets, patterns, textures, trends, celebs & more


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