Five Ways of Looking at a T-Shirt


Who hasn’t marveled at the waste-not, want-not resourcefulness of transforming old t-shirts into something kitschy and novel? A cozy for your iPod; a makeshift yoga bag; a jaunty pouch, even, to hold all that jaunty pouches need hold. The idea that the Jovi t-shirt you dribbled chili on in 6th grade could be reborn as an ironic groupie halter top was so very appealing—until seeing the umpteenth version of it at places like Urban Outfitters. By the time tee-modification shop Cronick Valentine opened last year, the idea had grown stale.

Or had it? Two new instruction books explore this trend thread by thread: 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim & Tie Your T-shirt Into Something Special and Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt (both currently available through A 108 ways? Who knew?

A cursory read of these two books yields some choice suggestions.

Five Final Uses for a Ratty Old T-Shirt:

The punky poncho! According to Generation T, by cutting rectangles out of two large t-shirts and sewing them together with a whipstitch (you’ll have to learn a proper whipstitch), the punk poncho is born. Granted, it might appear as if you arms are straightjacketed to your sides by your McGruff the Crime Dog t-shirt. But with the addition of snappy fringe—strips cut from remainders of the tee—it reads “Cinco de Mayo nuttiness.”

The t-shirt hairnet! Carrie Fisher’s cinnamon-roll coiffure in Star Wars garnered her the attentions of Han Solo and her hunky-yet-confused brother, so just think what it can do for you. Adorn your dueling hairbuns with circle-shaped t-shirt scraps, suggests Generation T, and fasten it all with a bow. Note: Omit step two, and you can make a set of golf-club covers instead!

The t-shirt bling! Generation T calls it the “un-bling ring,” the real “ice” of t-shirt jewelry. Sew a scrap of t-shirt into a circle, and add a whipstitch along the edges—this stitch will sub for real diamonds. Or how about this: Grab a few squares of t-shirt fabric and hang them from an earring back for some instant dangly earrings. (“And hey, funky and functional, too,” advises Generation T. “Fold the end up into your ear and they act as earplugs.”) You’ll never be left wanting at the Gwar show again.

The conceptual tee! Turn the shirt horizontal, and cut out two massive holes on each side—one will be for your neck, the other for your waist. One of your arms will go through what was originally the neck hole. Of course, this “sexy, exaggerated” look might reveal too much, so 99 Ways suggests wearing a tank top or swimsuit underneath. To the uninformed, this might appear as though you’ve actually just worn your t-shirt sideways. They might call you out on it, but they would be completely wrong. The world is full of uncultured boobs.

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