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15 Fantastic Ways to Alter T-Shirts and Tank Tops to Get Ready for Summer

The warmer the days get, the more excited we get each year to start wearing all of our summer clothes! We find, however, that we actually usually have more luck making things ourselves than shopping in stores because, that way, we can create things in any style we please. Maybe it’s just the DIY enthusiast in us, but there’s just something in that pile of old clothes that we set out every year during spring cleaning that screams “potential” at us and one of our very favourite spring activities is rummaging through our own clothes and finding old t-shirts and tank tops that we can alter and turn into “brand new” things!

Just in case you’re as interested in making your own DIY t-shirts and tank tops for summer but you feel like you could use a little bit of guidance, here are 15 awesome designs, tutorials, and style inspirations to get your creative juices flowing before you make your first cut.

1. Regular tank top to crossing crop

Regular tank top to crossing crop

Have you ever had a plain, basic tank top that you really liked the colour of but you’ve had it for many years and you just don’t find the fit of the shirt flattering anymore? Perhaps you got a new one that’s very similar but in slightly better shape. Well, it sounds to use like you’ve got just about everything you need to make a stylish crop top like this one outlined on A Pair and A Spare instead! We love how flattering the criss-cross style of this shirt is (and we also love how surprisingly easy it is to make).

2. T-shirt to cinched neck tank top

T shirt to cinched neck tank top

Do you have an overwhelming number of old, slightly oversized t-shirts that you never find yourself wearing but you feel bad getting rid of so many decent pieces of clothing? Then upcycling is definitely the best plan for you! We recently turned an old t-shirt into this adorable cinched neck and thin strapped tank top featured on Green PB&J’s  and we liked how it fit so much that we actually made ourselves a second one that very same day.

3. Easy tying open-back tee

Easy tying open back tee

We’ve always been huge fans of cut-outs in fashion, no matter how dressy or casual the look is, so we’re sure you can imagine just how pleased we were to come across this tutorial from Wobi Sobi that outlines that very style! This shirt, however, does more than just give you a cut-out. It’s also a tying top, meaning you can adjust how loose or tight it fits around your middle and get a cut-out in one place! We love the idea of wearing a brightly coloured bandeau underneath so it peeks through.

4. T-shirt to tying crop top

T shirt to tying crop top

Did we really catch your attention with the idea of a tying DIY shirt from an old t-shirt but you aren’t sure how you feel about the back-tying style and you feel like you’d be comfortable making a shirt that ties in the front instead? In that case, we’d suggest taking a look at how Tomboy Vintage made this adorable shirt instead! They show you precisely where and how to cut to get a classic crop top from any basic t-shirt you please.

5. Plain t-shirt to DIY fringe tank top

Plain t shirt to diy fringe tank top

Have you got some super fun music festival plans with your friends this year but you haven’t really seen any outfits in stores that you think have been worth the price, so you’re looking for some DIY inspiration instead? Then we’d definitely suggest taking a look at how A Girl and A Glue Gun made this fantastic fringed crop top in just a few simple steps! They did some easy cutting, some creative knotting, and they got crafty with some fabric paint. The best part is how customizable this particular shirt idea is!

6. DIY braided racer back t-shirt

Diy braided racer back t shirt

One of our favourite things to make from our old clothing is actually workout gear. There’s just something satisfying about wearing something we made ourselves while we’re challenging our bodies to be the best they can be. Besides, all the cutest workout clothes in the stores are always the most expensive and we’re working on a budget. That’s why we’ve made ourselves about six of these adorable braided racerback tank tops outlined step by step on Skinny Fat Girl Diary!

7. Lace cap sleeves on a tank top

Lace cap sleeves on a tank top

Perhaps the shirt you’re hoping to alter is actually quite fine in quality, fit, and colour, but you’re just not a fan of the way it shows your shoulders? We’ll fully admit that, even though we have no issues with how our shoulders look in particular, we don’t always find tiny spaghetti straps flattering on us. That’s why we loved the look of this whimsical lace cap sleeve DIY so much! Bead and Cord shows you how to add a girly touch to any tank top in a wonderfully easy way.

8. Basic tank top sewing pattern

Basic tank top sewing pattern

We know we said this post was going to concentrate on altering old clothes into new things, but what if you’re realizing as you scroll that what you’d really rather do is make yourself a top from scratch? Well, lucky for all of us, we threw this fantastic bsic tank top tutorial from Domestic Bliss Squared into the mix, just in case! Now you’ll be able to create a simple sleeveless shirt in whatever fabric or design and colour combination you please.

9. Long blouse to a sleeveless dress shirt

Long blouse to a sleeveless dress shirt

We’ve talked a whole lot about altering t-shirts so far, but what if the older shirt you’ve got to work with is actually a blouse that you don’t find yourself ever wearing? We’ll admit that we don’t often wear our nice blouses as often as we should because the combination of dress fabrics and long sleeves often makes us too hot to stay comfortable in them all day. That’s why we were so happy to stumble across this DIY formal tank top alteration tutorial on Sew Aldo! They show you how to neatly remove the sleeves so the shirt looks like it came that way fresh from the store.

10. Simple ruffled tank

Simple ruffled tank

Perhaps you’ve found a plain, basic tank top in your closet that you really like the colour and fit of, but you can’t help wishing it had a little something extra to it because it’s a little too plain for your personal style the way it is? That’s where your DIY skills come in to save the day! Adding some exciting detail to a tank top can be done in plenty of ways, but we recently made ourselves a brightly coloured version of this ruffled tank featured on Crafty Cousins and we love it so much that we have to make a concerted effort not to wear it every day.

11. Plain tank top into knot woven crop

Plain tank top into knot woven crop

Did we really catch your attention with the knotted fringe crop idea we talked about earlier on our list, but it was actually the little knots and not the fringe itself that interested you so much? In that case, we have a feeling this crop top from Jak and Jill that actually lets the knots take centre stage rather than being a supporting feature will be right up your alley. We fully admit to already having made ourselves three of these because they’re just so quick and simple to do, but also super fun to wear!

12. Easy DIY halter top from a graphic tee

Easy diy halter top from a graphic tee

Have you finally had to admit that your favourite oversize graphic tee is about three wears away from biting the dust all together because its’ completely worn though in the armpits and the bottom edge is tattered, but not in a cute, “distressed chic” kind of way? Well, what if you altered it so you can wear it without either of those spots being there at all? Check out how LaurDIY turned their favourite t-shirt into a halter neck tank top so the graphic in the centre front gets preserved while the ratty pieces are done away with.

13. Tied side V-neck tank top

Tied side v neck tank top

Did your ears metaphorically perk up when we mentioned “distressed chic” because that’s actually exactly the kind of DIY you were thinking of going for but, despite the fact that you want the finished product to look a little intentionally careless, you’d still like a bit of guidance when it comes to style and detail? Then we think we might have found the perfect tutorial for you! Check out how Delightfully Kristi made this super cool side-knotted V-neck tank top from their old oversized fav.

14. Button down tank top from a men’s shirt

Button down tank top from a men's shirt

What if the shirts you have to work with are actually all your dad’s, brother’s, or husband’s rather than your own? Well, you might not have thought they’d really be useful when it comes to altering old clothes for yourself, but Bead and Cord is actually here to prove you wrong on that count! Check out how they turned a large men’s dress shirt into a cute, lightweight button down blouse that’s perfect for summer.

15. Wonder Woman inspired cropped tank

Wonder woman inspired cropped tank

Maybe you have a top that’s already a colour, style, and fit you like but you just keep looking at it and wishing it had a little more detail or pattern than it currently does? Then we’re ecstatic to introduce you to the concept of DIY appliques! They’re so much fun (and so easy) to use that we honestly have to stop ourselves from adding cute, funny little patches to just about everything we own. Here’s a cute Wonder Woman inspired shirt from Me Sew Crazy to show you what all the buzz is about.

Have you designed, altered, and created other DIY tank tops in summers past that you don’t see on our list but that you loved enough to wear all season? Tell us all about how you made them or link us to photos of your finished shirts in the comments section!