5 Easy No-sew DIY T-Shirt Modifications for a More Feminine Fit

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No-sew DIY t-shirt modifications from Wardrobe oxygen featuring a t-shirt from pgcnty.com
Wearing a size large t-shirt from PGCNTY where I used the methods below to trim the sleeves and open the neckline.

I love a graphic t-shirt, but as a petite curvy woman, they don't always love me. Most graphic t-shirts have a “unisex” fit, which has a high crew neckline and long, snug sleeves that aren't really my jam. Over the years I have mastered a super easy no-sew, no measure, no tools needed except a decent pair of scissors way to cut my t-shirts for a more feminine fit. Below are my favorite no-sew DIY T-shirt modifications:

The same shirt, what it looks like after three washes and tumbles in the dryer. I show this to let you know you do NOT need a lot of trimming and modification to get the look you desire. Go slow, be conservative, and read on for my tips!
The same shirt, what it looks like after three washes and tumbles in the dryer. I show this to let you know you do NOT need a lot of trimming and modification to get the look you desire. Go slow, be conservative, and read on for my tips!

No-Sew DIY T-Shirt Modifications for a More Feminine Fit

My sewing machine is covered with dust and most of my scissors have been hijacked by my kid for school and girl Scout crafts. Even so, I usually modify every unisex t-shirt I get with at least one of these two steps below. Super easy and quick, yet quite effective in making a straight-cut t-shirt more feminine or work better with curves.

black t-shirt with the text goal weight: strong AF
This shirt was a gift but I believe this is the same one.

I am going to show how I do these easy DIY t-shirt modifications with a favorite t-shirt of mine that my sister got me when I was regularly weightlifting before the pandemic. Clearly, I've worn it a lot, but now I want to modify it to wear it outside the gym.

The Easiest No-sew DIY T-shirt Modification: Shorten the Sleeves

scissors cutting off a t-shirt sleeve's hem at the seam
Cut along the sleeve's hem, removing the stitching along with the extra length.

The easiest and quickest way to improve the fit of a t-shirt is to shorten the sleeves. I am 5'3″ and whether I have been a size 10 or a size 16, I find just cutting off sleeves right above the hem gives just the bit of lift and softness I desire.

No need to be precious, but you will have a better time using fabric shears instead of that sticky rusty pair of scissors in your junk drawer that also open shrink-wrapped packaging and cardboard boxes. The ones I linked to are under $10 and a highly-rated classic. Hide them from your family so they are only used for fabric.

Showing the hem of a t-shirt sleeve cut off
It's okay if it's not perfect; tug and it will roll up to hide any imperfections.

Snip right along the edge, and when finished, give a little tug and gently stretch the sleeve so the unfinished edge curls. There is no need to finish the edge; it won't fray. I have shirts decades old I've done this to and the sleeves haven't frayed, the seams haven't unraveled, they still look great.

two hems of t-shirt sleeves cut off; they make for great headbands!
A better-fitting t-shirt AND two new headbands? Win/win!

A perk is that little loop of fabric that was the original hem makes for a good headband! Even my big noggin finds them comfortable and good for workouts!

How to Modify a T-Shirt's Neckline Without Sewing

a pair of scissors with a black t-shirt that has half the neckband cut off

First step for some is the only step needed to modify a t-shirt's neckline: do exactly what you did with the sleeves. Turn the t-shirt inside out and cut along the neck band, removing it (this will also remove the tag). This simple modification will instantly open the neckline while still covering bra straps.

Where the shoulder seam meets the neck seam; follow the neck band and cut over this seam; it won't unravel.
Where the shoulder seam meets the neck seam, follow the neckband and cut over this seam; it won't unravel.

At the crossover shoulder to neck seams, cut across it, using the ribbed neckband and not the seaming as your guide. I promise these seams will not unravel even with multiple trips through the washer and dryer. When you have removed the neckband, again give the opening a bit of a tug so the edges curl under. Snip off any points that are jagged and obvious (often, the shoulder seams will stick up) and tug again.

How the t-shirt looks after just cutting out the neck band and trimming off the sleeve hems
How the t-shirt looks after just cutting out the neckband and trimming off the sleeve hems

Put on the shirt with any undergarments you would wear with it. Check yourself out in the mirror. Wish the neckline was a bit more open/boatneck? Wish it would scoop lower in the front or back? Think more of a v-neckline would be better? You can do this and more… but you need to go slow, take off slivers at a time, keep the shirt rightside out (so you are always aware of the location of the graphic), tug to curl after each snip, and try on again after each snip.

Matching up the shoulder seams to gauge how to modify the neckline after cutting out the neck band
Matching up the shoulder seams to gauge how to modify the neckline after cutting out the neckband

I usually desire a bit more of a scoop in the front. To do that, I have the shirt right side out and match up the shoulder seams so the “front” of the shirt is the sleeve, not the graphic. Then, with a tailor's marking pencil, a bit of bar soap, or even the more crumbly sidewalk chalk, I'll draw a little smaller than what I think will be the right angle.

Marking out my "slice of pie" with a leftover piece of Ivory Soap. I eyeballed it after trying it on, or you can use a ruler.
Marking out my “slice of pie” with a leftover piece of Ivory Soap. I eyeballed it after trying it on, or you can use a ruler.

Note I said angle, not width. Imagine you're cutting the thinnest of slices of a pie. It will be thicker at the crust, and get thinner until it makes a point at the center of the whole pie. You may be drawing a line 1/4″ from the center of the neckline but you'll angle it getting thinner and thinner until it ends, likely an inch or so before the shoulder seam. Cut on the outside of your mark so nothing is left on the t-shirt. Tug to roll, try on again.

If you want your shirt off the shoulder, I have had more success with cutting another “pie” off the back of the shirt and tugging and trying it on before cutting wider into the shoulders. Try this first, but be conservative as we are all shaped differently and what works for me may not work for you.

woman in a t-shirt that was DIYaltered without sewing to create a more feminine fit
The final result with the t-shirt knot I mention below

Before you trim again, tug it a bit more; t-shirts are super stretchy without their seams and you very well may not need to do anything more to get what you desire. In fact, if you're unsure wash your shirt before going further. Frustration and uncertainty have destroyed many a t-shirt.

How to Shorten a T-shirt That is Too Long

Like sleeves and necklines, a cut hem of a t-shirt will roll, and unless you're just trimming off the hem, cropping it, tying it, or tucking it in, this can look messy (and can roll more, especially if the shirt is fitted over the stomach). However, some standard-issue t-shirts for jobs, teams, fun runs, and family reunions can end up looking like dresses without some modification.

To ensure this is done evenly, I press my t-shirt so it is as smooth as possible, and use straight pins to have the front and back stay together. Use a ruler to draw dots with a tailor's pencil, chalk, or soap the specific amount you want off (remember to be conservative because the shirt WILL roll up), and then use the ruler to connect the dots. Cut with the t-shirt against a table or flat surface. Do NOT tug to roll when finished, you want it to roll as little as possible.

If your shirt is a bit too snug, try trimming off just the hem of the shirt. Use the same process I used for the sleeves. just removing the hem will loosen the shirt, and a couple of tugs here and there can make a meh shirt look and feel wow. The hem will roll, but if the shirt isn't so snug and you haven't shortened it a lot, it shouldn't roll up too much.

How to Make a Unisex T-Shirt Sleeveless

Learn from me, you can't just cut off a shirt's sleeves and think it will look cute. This is better with a shirt 1-3 sizes large and knowing you'll want to wear a cami or cute bralette underneath because it will gape.

Just like with the neckline, cut right along the shoulder seam, removing the seam along with your sleeve. Again, I do not recommend tugging to roll; it will do it on its own a bit but you don't want to encourage it or make the arm openings any wider.

I do like cutting out the neck of a t-shirt, cutting off 2-4″ of the hem, and then the sleeves for a cute top to wear with a sports bra for working out and outdoor activities. This can also make for a cute layer over a dress or jumpsuit.

How to Knot a T-Shirt Without that “Penis” Sticky-Outie Part

video of a woman tying the edge of a t-shirt
The embed feature for Instagram is acting up so here is a screenshot of my video; click here to see it in its entirety and learn how to tie your shirt in a different manner!

I know you know what I'm talking about. You grab your shirt's hem and loop it around itself to knot it. It looks great… except for that appendage sticking out. My video above and linked here shows how I knot my t-shirts by creating two “tails” and tying them in a knot. After laundering, the shirt goes back to its original shape.

This works especially well on shirts where the hem is cut off; if you know you will be wearing your t-shirt in such a manner every time you may wish to just snip off the bottom hem to get more stretch for a t-shirt knot.

If you plan on always wearing your shirt knotted, slice the shirt from the center of the front bottom hem up about 3″ and tie! For visuals, see the second bulleted video from Vintage or Tacky that I link below.

Final Tips and More T-Shirt DIYs

woman in a sweatshirt with the neck cut out to create a more feminine fit and to make an off the shoulder sweatshirt.
For this sweatshirt from PGCNTY I bought one size larger and just cut out the neck band and tugged; no other modification. I often cut off the hem band of sweatshirts as well for more comfort and a cute look.

I am very conservative with cutting my t-shirts for a more feminine shape because I have been burned in the past. Nothing worse than snipping too much off a t-shirt you love and make it something you hate. Don't be afraid to just cut off the sleeves and/or neckband and sit with that for a while. Wash it, tug it, get to know it before you go further.

Consider taking a t-shirt you don't love, or one you thrifted or scored from Freecycle or your local Buy Nothing group to test out these methods before going to town on your beloved band tee. Who knows, that meh shirt may DIY into your favorite top!

Cut your t-shirt in a well-lit room and try on in a well-lit room with a clean mirror. If you're using scissors that also cut plastic, paper, etc. prep them by cutting folded-up aluminum foil; this will clean and sharpen them a bit. Do not modify your favorite t-shirt while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, heartbreak, or TikTok.

5 Easy No-sew DIY T-Shirt Modifications for a More Feminine Fit by Wardrobe Oxygen

More T-Shirt Modification Tutorials:

If you're looking for ways to get supa dupa creative with your t-shirts, here are some fun tutorials I found:

Do you have any no-sew DIY t-shirt modifications I didn't cover that you love? Please share them in the comments! This post was originally published in 2021, but I updated it for 2024 due to recent interest!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. You are fantastic!! Thank you for the clear, precise instructions for all of the tips you presented. You articulated it well, and anyone of any age can follow along with ease and confidence.

  2. 25 years ago (before they made made feminine versions of NHL team shirts) I customized a children’s-sized mesh hockey jersey into a cool, one shouldered shirt – so…not regular T-shirt material – a bit more structured.

    -cut a diagonal from the left shoulder/neck intersection to the right sleeve/torso intersection to make a 1 shouldered shirt
    -I extracted the original neckline from the scraps, opened it up into strips and sewed it across the front of the new neckline to give the shirt a finished look
    -I opened the right torso seam, added grommets down the right (now open) side and laced it to fit with a hockey skate shoelace.

    This looked great – purposeful, unique and properly sized on me.

  3. This is GREAT! I am tall and thin and rarely find a t shirt that fits. Also, music festivals usually only sell men’s t-shirts that are huge on me and not feminine. Can’t wait to get scissoring. Thx again for this wonderful tutorial!

  4. Have you ever cut a tshirt made from 50% Cotton / 50% Polyester? How do the edges do? Do they stretch and “curl” like 100% Cotton does? What about after washing? Do they look okay? Thanks for any input!

    1. Good question! I have found that they work similarly. If it ends up being a thinner fabric it doesn’t always curl as much but it doesn’t fray, even after washing.

  5. thanks for this – I’ve always cut the necks of men’s t’s but always SEWED them and never realized that wasn’t necessary. Just tweaked 2 T’s that had been sitting in the “to do” pile for a year! Also really excited to try the “make a T larger” tip from the other blogger…planning to try it on a T-shirt from the Cavern Club in Liverpool that I had given up on (literally rescued it out of the donation bag this morning, hours before the truck arrived to take the bag). Excited to finally wear it without losing 40 pounds. . . british “Large” is not US “Large” haha!

  6. Great advice. I was too impulsive and aggressive with a sorority reunion tee shirt in the hotel room 10 years ago. Now I see where I went wrong and feel fortified to try on another.

  7. I know this is an old article but I have a question. I have a ton of sweatshirts with hoods and I am not really a fan of hooded sweatshirts. Will the hack for sweatshirts work of they have a hood? I don’t want to ruin them if it’s not going to work the same. Love all the tshirt hacks BTW!

    1. I’ll be honest I haven’t done it with a hoodie. And looking online I didn’t find a lot of tutorials for hoodies. I’d recommend trying with one you don’t love to test. If it works please report back!

    2. Great tips! Especially this one: “Do not modify your favorite t-shirt while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, heartbreak, or TikTok.”

      Inspired me to create this handy formula:
      + ✂️ + ( // / ⏰) =

  8. I think I commented on the original post, but am too lazy to scroll through to find it, LOL. This is still such great info. I wanted to add that, as a tall woman, I always have to buy men’s sweatshirts — I hate the masculinity of the cut, so I buy them extra large, cut off the entirety of the sleeve cuff, the bottom hem, and the neck ribbing, and voila, I have a perfect sweatshirt. If I’m feeling bold, I make vertical cuts up the side seams to make “side slits.” So easy and totally transformative.

    Also, I really love the current rolled/raw hem or fringed hem on some clothing. You can do this yourself with most fabrics. Denim, for example, can be frayed by unhemming the original seam. Yay for modifying clothing!

    1. PS. What a difference a year or two makes. Your photo of the sleeve ends, your “headbands,” were what I first used to make a COVID mask at home, back when we couldn’t get anything and we thought the pandemic would be over in a few months.

  9. Fantastic post! I wish I was a rock chick who felt OK with raw hemlines – Alison makes them look so good. Raw hemlines will hold up fine over the long term on good-quality cotton knit.

    If you are used to sewing using a sewing machine, you’re OK with sewing knits, and you DO want to sew a t-shirt to alter it…here are two easy adjustments.

    I admit, the first one is lazy! This will give 3/4 to 1 inch of adjustment. This method is best for fine or light t-shirts, such as light rayon knits or slub cottons/linens, and for t-shirts with straight hemlines.
    1. Fold up the cuff or bottom hem.
    2. Pin it.
    3. Stitch the folded cuff/hem into place with a stretch stitch.

    I will also sometimes narrow the sides of a t-shirt with a shallow curve. I do this from about 2 inches below the bust to 2 inches above the hem. Like Alison recommends, I press and pin. This gives a blocky shirt better side shaping if you’re a busty hourglass, like me. Even a tiny curve or a half inch of narrowing makes a surprising difference.

    Twice in my life I’ve looked at a really desirable cotton t-shirt and… taken it to my tailor! Yes, I asked a tailor to adjust a t-shirt. Once, she completely reshaped an oversized men’s t-shirt on me. It went from a blocky sack to relaxed/cool. Another time, she took the ribbing off a neckline, halved it cleverly, and used to create a deeper neckline with a narrower edge – just amazing. This was not cheap tailoring, but I’m still wearing both those t-shirts to this day.

  10. I love this hack. I’m a bigger girl and really tall too. So regular women’s tops just don’t look very good on me in my opinion. So I’m normally stuck wearing men’s tees and I HATE the way they look on me. They just look so masculine that I can’t hardly stand to even look in the mirror.

    I’m going to be using this hack to make all my tops look better…I hope. I’m going to practice on an older one first.

    Thank you for posting this video!!

  11. I know this is an old post, but I wanted to say thank you for your clear and helpful instructions! Such great and easy tips. Also, your curls are poppin! So pretty.

  12. I was amazed how much more comfortable a tee is when the neck is just a bit wider than crew neck. I have a sweatshirt from 1998 (it’s crazy now to have items that are over 20 years old when I couldn’t even go a week without losing/destroying something when I was younger) that I can’t bear to part with but I’m tired of it. I think I might alter the neckline!

  13. I used your instructions, Allie. It made a great difference in a T-shirt I wear to Tai Chi. I love it!

  14. Good hunting, Alison! Thanks!
    But shoppers should read the reviews carefully before purchasing. Evidently the quality has changed, making newer shears harder to use. Mine are old and work perfectly. One reviewer recommended looking on e-bay instead.

  15. Thank you for this! I got the US Riley in the mystery box and the neckline is really funky and too high. This might make it wearable!

    1. And I fixed my Riley and now I love it! While I was there I also had a go at three graphic Ts that were unisex and they are alos much better.
      So thank you …..

  16. Thank you for this helpful post. I was gifted some men’s graphic tees that I just don’t wear because they look too masculine. Looking forward to (carefully) trying this out!

  17. This is a brilliant post! I too, love graphic tees but don’t like how they fit. I think I’ll thrift a couple and try this. Great suggestions, thank you again!

  18. These are great ideas for the blah crewneck t-shirt that I always look terrible in! I don’t often wear statement t-s, but I’ll take a couple old ones and try these suggestions out.

  19. So glad you included a sweatshirt, too! I’m tall and like the length of men’s sweatshirts, however, the sleeves are always too long and the neck too tight. I cut the sleeves off right above the hem binding, make slits up the sides, and cut out the neck. No raveling, easy to do, and looks great. As you said, tiny snips are the way to go — I’ve ruined a few along the way.

    1. What I meant: Make slits up both sides of the sweatshirt, from the hem upwards for a few inches, to allow for hips and for ease while sitting.

  20. Ooooh! I have a fave tee that the crew neck is all stretched out (much like that “bacon” neck commercial ) that I can’t wait to cut later today! Thank you for the inspiration and know-how!

  21. >>Do not modify your favorite t-shirt while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, heartbreak, or TikTok.

    LMAO! So true!

    I love Fiskars — thanks for reminding me I need a new pair. I always tie a bit of fabric around one of the handles to let my family know these are the cloth scissors ONLY. Everyone knows to stay away!

      1. For those of you with family members not deterred by reminders, a combination lock through the handle makes my sewing shears my sewing shears

  22. For lefties, Fiskars also make left-handed shears. Worth hunting for so you don’t get pain and grooves on your thumb from using right-handed shears. (I hear bewildered righties saying “Oh, that’s a thing?” Yes, my children, it is.)

      1. When I was in high school, making my own clothes and struggling with the righty shears at school, my home ec teacher advised my mother to get me a pair of left-handed shears. They were harder to find then. On my next birthday, that was my present. I used them until they fell apart.

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