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DIY: How To Cut The Perfect Tank from a Tee

Posted: Jan 27 2015

With this little tutorial, we’ll show you how to cut the perfect tank from a t-shirt or long-sleeve. There’s a few ways to do it, depending on the fabric in the tee, and the look you’re going for. We’ll show you the two best methods here.

When you are going to DIY a singlet, you need to select the right t-shirt to start with. We love the washed look of vintage t-shirts, and have therefor selected the Apocalypse Wow Tee by USUAL SUSPECT. All the Usual Suspect Tees work great for creating your own tank, as they already carry that cool, laidback look.

Method 1: Muscle Tank

  • Left: Final Result. Right: What you need; Your favourite t-shirt and a pair of scissors.
  • Turn the tee inside out, and start cutting in from the sleeve, to the shoulder seam. Do not cut the shoulder seam!
  • Cut as close as possible to the seam of the t-shirt, without cutting into it.
  • Repeat the same process on the opposite sleeve. Then you're all done!

This method is perfect if you’re looking to create a muscle tank (basically a tee without sleeves). If you’re working with a tee of a different fabric than cotton, like rayon jersey, this method is often preferred, since the softness of the rayon will make raw edges harder to manage (we’ll explain further!).

First, turn the t-shirt inside out. Locate the seam on the sleeve, and cut as close as possible to it. We want to get a close and sharp cut, without compromising the seam. When keeping the seam intact, the shape of the tank will stay the same, and it will prevent it from rolling upwards. If you cut on the inside of the seam, you’ll get a raw edge. As mentioned above, soft fabrics like rayon jersey will make the edges roll up and be a bit more difficult to manage. So if you want the shape to stay constant, and keep that muscle tank look, keep the seams intact

Method 2: Loose Tank

  • Turn the tee inside out, and fold it double. Make sure the seams on both side are even.
  • Make a small cut on both sides of the t-shirt. Make sure they are completely even. This will be the starting point for the bottom of the armhole.
  • Start from the small cut you made in the previous step. Map out an even line from the cut to the inside of the shoulder seam.
  • Keep cutting upwards, as evenly as possible. Since you're leaving a raw edge on the tank, it will naturally roll/fold a bit, thus be more forgiving to your poor cutting skills
  • You're all done with one side. Repeat on the other side!
  • Put your new tank on, and head wherever you're going!

With this method, we want to create a looser and more relaxed fit. We will be cutting away the seam of the sleeves, so it’s preferred to use a t-shirt of cotton.

First, decide how far down you want the armholes to go. You can make them as big as you want, and cut all the way down to the hemline (bottom). Fold the t-shirt so it’s double, and make a small cut with the scissors at the point where you’d like the armhole to end.

Do the same on the top of the shoulder, on the inside of the seams (cutting away the seams).

Start from the bottom, and cut your way to the top. Try to keep it even on the front and the back of the tee. You can either cut each side separate, or cut them together. If you cut the front and the back of the t-shirt together, make sure you don’t have any double folds. 

Since we’re cutting away the seams, we are getting so-called “raw edges”. These edges will naturally roll/fold a bit, so even if you’re not cutting perfect, it will be a bit more forgiving.

Optional: Reinforce Seams

This only applies to Method 2, since Method 1 is keeping the seams of the t-shirt you’re cutting intact.

To make sure the stitching in the cut seams don’t open further, you can reinforce them with a few rounds of thread-and-needle. We recommend giving it to your mom and have her do it.

You’re now ready to cut your own perfect tank.

Shop t-shirts to get a good starting point.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help you out. 

Good luck!

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