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Herringbone Side Laced Tank Top T-Shirt Reconstruction

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If you’ve visited my blog before, you probably know I love t-shirt reconstruction projects. As a fairly small person, I’ve spent years trying to make literally cut my clothes down to size. Even if a shirt isn’t too big, cutting it up and restructuring it is a great way to add a personal touch to an over worn (or never worn!) tee. Several of my previous t-shirt projects product tops ideal for a workout of day at the beach, so I though I’d show you how to make something that doesn’t have holes, revealing slits or a backless design. This side laced tank top is totally decent and something you could wear to the store when you aren’t on the way home from the gym!

You can use pretty much anything to lace the sides. In the example I used t-shirt yarn, but I’ve made similar shirts with spare shoestrings and ribbons. If you don’t know how to make it, you can check out my t-shirt yarn tutorial here. It’s pretty easy and can be used for all sorts of things!

Herringbone Side Laced No-Sew Tank Top

Materials for No-Sew Side Laced Tank Top

  • A tee you’re bored with
  • A sharp pair of scissors
  • An awl, small pair of scissors, pair of needle nosed pliers, or something similar
  • T-shirt yarn, (or a second shirt to turn into yarn), shoe laces, ribbons, etc. for lacing

I used two shirts – one for the tank top and another for t-shirt yarn. I have lots of yarn left over!

How to Make the Tank Top

1. If necessary, make your t-shirt yarn using your favorite method or by following the instructions here.

2. Cut the sleeves off your t-shirt. Make sure to cut them away from the body so that you remove the seam, as shown below. Cut off and discard the bottom hem.

cutting the sleeves off

3. If your shirt is too big, cut straight up each side to remove as much fabric as necessary from the shirt. Cut through both thicknesses at once and try to cut each side the same amount so that one shoulder doesn’t end up massive and the other tiny. I advise cutting a way a little bit, testing the fit, and then cutting away more, as needed. You can always cut off extra, but you can’t add it back on! If your shirt already pretty much fits simply cut the side seam out and discard it.

sleeveless tee

4. After the shirt’s body is the appropriate size, it’s time to poke little holes in it! A small awl is best, but a pair of needle nosed pliers, the tip of a small pair of scissors, or probably even a nail will work. I like to space the holes about an inch apart. Making the holes through both thicknesses at once is a little more tricky, but it ensures the holes match up. Poke holes all the way from under the sleeve to the bottom.

6. If you’re using t-shirt yarn or ribbon without a convenient point for lacing, simply wrap each end of the yarn with a small piece of tape, as shown. This will allow you to lace the shirt quickly and keeps the yarn from fraying while you lace.

DIY lacing tip

7. Find the middle point of one piece of lacing. Then, find the top pair of holes on one side of the shirt. Insert one end of the yarn through a hole from back to front, pulling it through until the yarn’s midpoint. Then, bring the other end of the yarn through the other top hole, pulling it through until the shirt’s two sides meet.

shirt lacing

8.Cross the right lace under the left, as shown below.

side lacing shirt

9. Bring the laces through the next available holes, from back to front, as shown below.

side lacing shirt

9. Continue lacing, always passing the right end behind and the left in front. You can lace it differently if you’d like, but lacing this way ensures the two laces are used up at the same rate and gives the cool herringbone pattern.

side laced tank top

10. Once you reach the bottom, rouche the shirt a little, if you’d like, but pulling gently on the laces. When you’re satisfied, tie the two lace ends in a tight square knot. You can tie the leftover laces in a bow or leave them hanging – you just might want to snip off those makeshift tape lacing points!

tied off ends

11. Repeat steps 7-10 on the other side.

laced side tank

12. Wear and enjoy!

t-shirt tank top (no sewing!)

If you’re looking for more of my t-shirt upcycling ideas, I suggest you check my tutorials index page. It has links to tutorials posted both on my blog and HubPages, so it’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything! As always, please let me know if you have any questions or if any of the steps are unclear.

Do you upcycle t-shirts? Other clothing? What do you like to make? Are you ready to take your t-shirt reconstruction to the next level? (By that I mean “Are you willing to sew a little?”) If so, I recommend these cool books!


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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Cathy July 30, 2013, 15:43

    Awesome idea! I am co-hosting this week on the Wondering Brain Show Off Weekend Party. Thanks for sharing your creations with us! I hope you found inspiration in all of the terrific posts.
    I host a (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and a TGIF Link Party at my place — A Peek Into My Paradise… http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/ I would love for you to link up and follow (if you don’t already) if you like what you see. =) I follow back – I love making new friends!
    I can’t wait to see what you link up next week!
    Hugs, Cathy

    • Natashalh July 30, 2013, 15:55

      Yes, there are always fun things at the party! Thanks for stopping by and I’ll try to remember to link up tomorrow with you “WW” post. I believe I am following you on BL, but I’ll make sure to check!

  • Mandy July 29, 2013, 05:12

    This is a cool project and super cute top! Thanks for sharing on Small Fine Print!

    Small Fine Print

    • Natashalh July 29, 2013, 06:29

      Thank you and thanks for stopping by!

  • Linda July 28, 2013, 08:54

    PINNED!! Thanks so much.
    Linda craftsalamode.com

    • Natashalh July 28, 2013, 08:58

      Thank you for pinning!! I appreciate it.

  • Bethany July 27, 2013, 13:49

    Great idea! Looks cute on you!

  • Vague July 27, 2013, 13:04

    Will definitely have to try! Recently, I had to buy a generic T-shirt from Wal-Mart (part of I want to wear my coffee Monday) and I don’t like the cut. I figured it would become a bedtime shirt, when the hubby isn’t here, or a paint shirt. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Natashalh July 27, 2013, 13:54

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy remaking the shirt – it sounds like the perfect candidate!

  • LeAnn July 27, 2013, 04:34

    What a cute, cute upcycle!!!

    • Natashalh July 27, 2013, 07:12

      Thank you! I have so many tees to work with now that my man gave me!

  • Rose July 25, 2013, 16:55

    Fun! What a versatile top. I love Edi’s idea of pairing bright lacing with a gray shirt.

    • Natashalh July 25, 2013, 18:45

      It would be great looking! Even some crazy rainbow laces would work.

  • Tammy Bour July 25, 2013, 15:34

    New follower from Deezy does it showcase.

    Great projects I am seeing.


    • Natashalh July 25, 2013, 18:45

      Thanks for stopping by and following! I appreciate it.

  • Marieken July 25, 2013, 10:01

    What an awesome idea! I have a bunch of shirts I never wear, so I’ll try this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Natashalh July 25, 2013, 10:45

      I really never get tired of reworking tshirts! There’s always a fun new idea to experiment with. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the project if you get the chance to do it!

  • Tyler July 25, 2013, 09:06

    This is such an awesome way to fix a t-shirt that’s too big, and I never would have thought of it! Thanks for the great idea!!

    • Natashalh July 25, 2013, 09:07

      Thank you! I think the first time I did this design was the summer of 2003. o_O That was a little while ago now!

  • Edi July 25, 2013, 08:07

    What a cool project! Bright colored ribbon would be awesome with a gray shirt too!

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