DIY T-Shirt to Tank Tutorial

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A Step-by-Step Guide to a New Workout Wardrobe Essential!

BEFORE: “Drab!”


AFTER: “Fab!”

Have a few old t-shirts laying around and don’t know what to do with them? If you’re a girl who likes to look good, work out, and not spend a fortune doing either, then this is a craft designed for you! These rugged-looking tanks are a hit at the gym, and can be made out of any jersey cotton t-shirt. They’re also a great bikini cover-up in the summer, as they cover you adequately but allow your body to breathe during that dreadful heat. Follow this step-by-step guide for a DIY (Do It Yourself) racerback tank, and turn that “DRAB” t-shirt into a “FAB” workout essential! Let’s get started:

For this craft you will need:

An old t-shirt to cut up
A pair of scissors

Step 1: Cut off the shirt’s collar. 

Follow the perimeter of the collar and cut just below the stitching. 


Step 2: Cut off the sleeves. 

How far in you go is up to you. Remember, the farther in you go, the smaller your tank’s straps will end up being. When you determine how far in you would like to cut, follow the curve of the sleeve’s stitching as an example.

When you finish cutting the first sleeve, fold the shirt in half and follow your first cut as a guide for the second sleeve in order to keep the tank symmetrical. 

Step 3: Cut off the t-shirts hem. 

Most t-shirts have a double hem at the bottom, giving them a clean finish. To achieve a more rugged look, cut off the hem completely, but be sure to save the scraps.

Step 4: Cut the loop. 

When you finish cutting the hem off, you should be left with a long, skinny loop. Using your scissors, cut the loop in order to create a long, ribbon-like string.

Step 5: Cut the stitches off the string. 

While stitches can give fabric a finished look, you will need to stretch this string later on, and the stitches will prevent you from doing so. Cut the string all the way down, being sure to cut closely to the stitch line. You can go ahead and put the stitched fabric in the scrap pile, but hang on to the folded fabric string.

Step 6: Stretch! 

This is a fun part. Using both hands, stretch out the string so it becomes thinner and begins to curl. Have fun with it! When you’re done you should end up with a long, slightly-rolled string. 

Step 7: Turn the back of the shirt into a “Racerback”. 

I love racerback tanks because they show off my shoulder blades, and essentially all of the hard work I’m doing to strengthen my upper-back muscles. To achieve this look, cut a “U” shape into the back, allowing it to expose more skin. Use your scrap from this as a guide to cut the other side the same way in order to keep your back symmetrical.

Step 8: Cut a V. 

In order to make skinny straps, you need to get rid of excess fabric. Cut a deep “V” into your racerback. The bigger your “V”, the skinnier your straps in the end. Try not to go past your mid back. 

Step 9: Wrap the V. 

Take the skinny, rolled rope you created earlier and tie a double knot around both of the “V” straps, about three fingers in from the top. Wrap the rope around the two straps over and over until you come to a few inches left of rope. You can double up on the wrapping in order to create a shorter “knot” in the back. When you finish wrapping, tie another double knot at the end. Cut off the excess rope strands at the top and bottom.

Step 10: Alterations. 

Do you prefer V-necks or U-necks? High-to-low hem, or hems with higher sides? Use this step to alter your shirt and give it your own flair. I created two shirts and gave them each a slightly different alter (finished products are down below on Step 12). In the example pictures below, I chose a high-sides hem. To do this, fold your shirt in half, and cut a diagonal line, starting low in the “middle” folds of the shirt and going higher as you get to the edges.

Step 11: Stretch some more! 

Take a look at your tank so far. It looks good, but it’s not finished just yet! Try on your tank, and let’s focus on getting those straps a little more long, lean, and loose. Pull down on your shirt from all sides in order to stretch it out a bit and add to the rugged, workout look. 

Step 12: Flaunt it. 

Do a happy dance, because you have just finished your DIY workout tank, and are now ready to go flaunt your thrifty attire at the nearest gym! Try your hand at a few more, and do something different each time. Try a different hemline, skinnier straps, a different neck cut, etc. Check out these two I completed in a matter of minutes!

Slightly lower U-neck line.
Medium-sized straps, high-sides hemline. 


Low U-neck line; High-to-low hemline.
Small straps, extra deep V-cut in back! Lookin’ good!

Hope you enjoy this 12-step guide! If you try it out, be sure to let me know! Post a picture link in a comment, or mention #ADashofSarah on a Twitter/Instagram pic! Good luck, stay healthy, and stay FABulous!

Is there anything else you’d like to see? Another DIY wardrobe guide? Another t-shirt alteration? Perhaps some home decor craft guides? Comment and let me know! 🙂


Stay Dashing, My Dears!

Sarah is a Marketing Project Coordinator at Research Now.
Sarah writes about events, experiences, and happenings around Dallas, Texas and Plano.
Sarah is a blogger, foodie, and brand advocate, dedicating her free time to DIY craft tutorials, creating new recipes, and reviewing products.

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