Cut out T-shirts to something WOW {10 T-shirt cutting ideas with instructions}

10 different methods to turn old or oversized or plain old fashioned tees to something more appealing by cutting it out.

Late Yoshito Usui has a character called Mitsy in his popular animated serial Shin-chan who goes on a shopping spree whenever there is a sale. And there is always a sale somewhere or the other. My kids say that I am the Mitsy of our house.

Looking at all the things I have bought at various sales I have to agree – Things I need, things I may need, things I will never need, things ‘no one’ will ever need – I have bought them all. Blank T-shirts are something that I buy like this – on a sale in many numbers. They are always in the category of ‘things I definitely need’.

Well, for me there is always a project for a blank T-shirt. This time I decided to try to cut the t-shirt and change its look – not of one but of all ten t-shirts. Whether after the work, they are “things you will need” is for you to decide.

T-shirt cutting DIY Techniques

1. Fringed T-shirt cut out

designs t-shirt cut out - mark fringes at the bottom edge
Cut out the bottom hem and mark fringes
cut tshirt designs at the bottom hem
designs t-shirt cut out
designs t-shirt cut out
the fringes on the bottom hem of tshirt after cutting out

Fringes seem to be the most popular way of cutting t-shirts the world over. The edges do not fray and the fringes you cut on the t-shirt fall quite beautifully.  Mark a line where you want the t-shirt to end (or where you are comfortable showing some skin – 14 -15 inches is ok for most people as that is where your waistline will be) and then start marking straight lines some 1/2 inches apart. Cut out the Fringes. A small stretch and the cut pieces will lose the straight cut up look and curl on themselves. If you want a tied look, tie adjacent fringes together. Some even thread beads on these fringes. I added some bugle beads on the neckline and it jazzed up the worn out neckline edge.

2. Simple neck cut out shirt

cut out tshirt diy -at the neckline
fold the neckline and make cuts
tshirt cutting design
designs t-shirt cutting

This is a very simple cut you can do along the neckline. Fold the t-shirt by the center front and mark a V shape and cut straight cuts.  A simple stretch will curl the edges attractively. I made two more such motifs but as they are cut diagonally it didnot stretch and curl as the centrally made one.

3. Peekaboo T-shirt cutouts

t shirt cutting instructions  -make peek a book elements
Add fabric pieces and cut out the front
Sew the patch fabric to the back and then mark and cut inside
t shirt cutting instructions - when you cut the extra fabric will peek out
peek a boo effect with a type of reverse applique

This is a very interesting technique. If you add a layer of fabric under your cutouts the peekaboo effect comes into play.

If you have some interesting fabric pieces like a sequinned fabric it will look lovely with this technique. Cut out the shapes – I have cut out circles. Hearts seem to be a favourite shape – you can add red colour background fabric for the heart – so cliched, I know. Go ahead and make your heart Black, just for a change.  Turn the t-shirt inside out and keep the fabric piece good side down on the tshirt inside ( just where you want the peekaboo effect) Stitch in place.

Ensure that the bobbin thread you are using matches the t-shirt colour otherwise the thread will stand out. Now start marking straight lines inside the stitching. Start cutting the lines inside the circles, being very careful not to cut the fabric piece underneath. Pinch the fabric to the back to avoid accidentally cutting it. Give the tshirt cuts a tug and the strips will curl showing you a peek of the fabric piece behind.

4. White and bland to cheerful Tee

cutting tshirt designs - add extra fabric cut from other tees
add extra band from other tees at sleeve hems

I have used the hem of the sleeve from the earlier project to give the t-shirt a double hem. Just keep it inside and top stitch in place starting from the seams. cut tshirt

The rest of the cutouts can be glued on to the t-shirt with fabric glue

tshirt paintings - done with fabric paints

Another method to change the look of lack luster white t-shirt is to paint on it. You can check out this post on t-shirt painting for more details on how to do it.

5. Cowl neck T-shirt

t - shirt cut outs
t shirt cutting instructions
t shirt cutting diy

This involves cutting the hem of the t-shirt to make the cowl neck. If you do not want the t-shirt length to be decreased ( or do not somehow fancy the crop top look) cut the hem of another t-shirt for the cowl.  Fold to the back and hand stitch in place. Add some buttons on the joining line of the neckline if it accidentally ends up in the front. Foresight – that is what I lack.

6. Illusion neckline from T-shirt cut out

cutting tshirts
how to cut out a t-shirt

Tulle fabric is very well suited for easily adding this type of neckline that can change the look of a t-shirt to something like a regular top Trace the shape of the area where you want the tulle with some extra seam allowance Cut out the top portion of the sleeve from where you want the illusion portion to start. This will give you a cold shouldered sleeve Cut off the top portion of the tshirt front. Finish the armhole edges of the tulle pattern piece. Join to the top . If your t-shirt fabric has stretched make small gathers at the center.

7. Kimono jacket t-shirt

tshirt cut out to make a long shrug  -diy tutorial
cut out the neckband of the t shirt
cut the front part

A slightly over sized t-shirt can very easily be turned into a Kimono jacket by cutting out the neckline and by the center of the tshirt Mark as in the picture below – First mark the center fold and then mark two lines on either side starting from the neckline 6 cms from the center fold line. Cut it out and you have a 2 minute no sew jacket. If you want more work hem the cut edges or add some lace along the cut edge or add a shawl collar as in this post on making a velvet blazer.

8. Lace and knots – Tshirt cutouts

cut out tshirt designs with knots made over the cut out area
cut the shoulder seam
cutting out tshirt diy instructions
place lace under the cut out area and sew
cut the bottom area and then tie them together

Lace adds a beautiful feminine touch to a t-shirt ( for that matter to any dress). Cut out the tshirt along the lines as in the picture below ( Do not cut the neckline – just the top edge of the sleeves and the shoulder. It will look like this. Keep the lace of appropriate length and width along the cut space – pin in place – As you stitch fold the edge of the tshirt for a neat look – top stitch the lace and the t-shirt. You are inserting the lace in the space you are cut out – if you are confused. I cut the sleeves a little shorter and left the hem as it is. Make straight cuts along the hem. Tie the cut strips to each other with embroidery thread. Knot twice to secure. Tie from the back of the t-shirt. I found that it is better to tie from the back of the t-shirt so that the knot is not visible from the front. You can add studs or beads on top of the knots/tie for a more ornate look t shirt cutting designs

9. Tank top Cut out tee

tshirt cut to make a tank top - tutorial
cut out t-shirt neckline and the sleeves
use bias binding tape or fabric strip to bind the cut out t-shirt edges
cut out t-shirts
cut out t-shirts

If you have a t-shirt that is a little too tight and you are heading for a sunny weather turn the t-shirt into a summer top by cutting the t-shirt into a tank top. Here you use the shoulder seam as it is. Just mark the shape of the shoulder straps and cut. Bind the fabric edges with fabric strips. Ensure that as you sew you are not stretching the neckline as the t-shirt may gape in this case

10. Neckline cutouts 

tshirt cutting step by step
cut out t-shirts
cut out t-shirts
cut out t-shirts

This is my favourite type of cut out – very easy to do and looks very good on you. Ignore the marks made on the sleeves – I found the sleeves hang awkwardly so I left out the sleeves. Make a straight line along the top of the t-shirt. Make the marks only on the front as I have done or on the back as well.

Important points in cutting out designs from T-shirts

T-shirts are made of knit fabrics – this translates to its best advantage for cutting – the cut edges do not ravel like woven fabrics.

So you do not have to finish the cut t-shirt edges and they will still look nice. So easy. No hemming or turned under stitching. You can cut almost anywhere on the t-shirt without fear of fraying.

A tug will stretch and curl the edges into an attractive finish on its own. The cuts look nice when made horizontally or vertically; not diagonally.

For stitching on Tshirts use a stretch 75/11 needle. When you sew t-shirt fabric with a straight stitch on ordinary sewing machines the stitches will break at places.

To prevent this, slightly stretch as you sew or Make narrow zig-zag stitches to sew the seam, where possible. A small zigzag stitch with 2.0 length, 1.5 width works or use the stretch stitch in your machine.

Find more about the stitches in your machine here. If you want some not-so-simple but even more exquisite designs for your t-shirts – check out this board . In the meanwhile, you can follow sewguide on Pinterest here.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

15 thoughts on “Cut out T-shirts to something WOW {10 T-shirt cutting ideas with instructions}”

  1. On your last shirt (blue one) I found if you cut out the piece where the sleeves are sewn on, you can cut the sleeves on the lines you made to continue the design. I stretch mine and let them hand down. It gives a cold shoulder look.

    Thanks for the ideas! I love cutting up my t shirts!

    • Can I slit the neck band on a v neck t shirt fight along the fold all the way around to make the edges curl? Thank you!

  2. Wow! This is a great post!!! So many ways to breathe new life into those old t-shirts. I want to try all of these. Hopefully I have enough t-shirts. 🙂

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