8 Creative ways to refashion a plain T-shirt for next-to-nothing

If you want to update your wardrobe for 2019 but don’t have the budget to go out shopping, why not reuse what you already have in your wardrobe? When you refashion a plain t-shirt, you’re creating a unique fashion piece that no-one else owns and you can usually do it for less than £5 because there are so many low-cost DIY hacks out there. Here are 8 creative and thrifty refashioning ideas to get you started…


First, you need to dig a plain t-shirt out of your wardrobe. If you don’t have anything blank it can be somewhat difficult to find plain t-shirts at charity stores, so you may have to buy a new one for a few pounds from a budget retailer. There are budget websites that offer wholesale blank apparel, where you can buy plain tees at extremely low prices. From there, you can use scissors, fabric dye, lace and various alteration methods to repurpose and refashion your t-shirt. Be prepared for all your friends and family to start begging you to transform their shirts, too!


You can transform a plain t-shirt into a statement t-shirt using fabric dye. You could create a dip dye ombre effect, a tie-dye look or a splattered paint effect using fabric dye. Fabric dye also allows you to draw something on a t-shirt or write a meaningful message.


A pair of scissors and a YouTube tutorial is all you need to transform a plain tee into a fashion statement. You can create a pretty lattice effect on the shoulders of a t-shirt with scissors, or cut out your own small holes to create a cool distressed look. Geometric shapes cut out in the back always look great, especially triangles or diamonds.


A plain t-shirt strategically embellished with metallic studs always looks cool. You can pick up a bag of studs from any sewing shop for a few pounds, and glue them on using a hot glue gun or heavy-duty fabric glue. You’ll need a measuring tape if you want it to look symmetrical and professional, allowing you to place the studs perfectly for a diamond pattern all over the t-shirt.

Check out my iron-on star design hoody project 


You can use bleach on coloured t-shirts to create your own designs. Flicking bleach onto a dark tee creates a unique effect, but you can also use bleach to add a chevron design or dip-dyed effect. To write a message on a t-shirt, simply dip a paint brush in some bleach and write whatever you like. For a geometric shape, use painter’s tape to guide your paint brush.


You can add your own peter pan collar or lace collar to a plain t-shirt to give it a preppy and stylish look. Try adding a vintage collar using lace and pearls, or using pieces from an old gemstone necklace.


Another great way to alter a shirt is to cut very thin slits in the front of the shirt in the shape of a ‘V’ to create an illusion v-neck. If you keep the slashes very thin, the shirt will look chic without showing too much skin. Cutting into the fabric can also create a distressed look for a 90s grunge style, so snip off the sleeves or add snips to the sides.


You can create a beautiful design by cutting the sleeves off of a plain t-shirt and sewing on lace sleeves or leather sleeves using an old item of clothing that you’ve finished with. To complete the look, you can even use the same fabric to sew on a matching lace or leather pocket. In general, contrast sleeves add personality to plain t-shirt, and if you have an old striped or patterned top that you no longer wear, you can cut it up and use the fabric for your contrast sleeves. If you know how to sew, you can play around with this idea by creating ruffled sleeves or bell sleeves. Suddenly, your plain t-shirt isn’t so plain anymore, and you’ll be loving this look.

Here’s my no-sew contrast pocket tee project


When you add ruffles to the neckline or bottom of a plain t-shirt, you’re transforming it into a feminine, tee that can be worn on a date or to a special event. You’ll need two plain t-shirts in the same colour to achieve the DIY ruffles. One shirt will be cut up to give you the extra fabric needed to pleat and transform into ruffles.

I hope these ideas have given you inspiration for refashioning the clothing you already have in your wardrobe. What other hacks have you used to add detail to your tees or update your wardrobe on a budget? Let me know in the comments below.


This blog post is an advertisement feature that has been written in collaboration with a sponsor. The pink links in this post indicate a sponsored link 🙂


Please take care, stay safe and use common sense when following the advice, projects, recipes or ideas from Cassiefairy.com. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk. Please read our Terms and Conditions, our Privacy Policy and Disclosure for more information. Thanks!


If my DIY projects or money-saving articles have helped you please consider supporting the 'My Thrifty Life' blog to enable me to create new content. I really appreciate every donation and it allows me to continue helping readers to live a lovely life on a budget 🙂

Posted by

Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

Share your comments, tips and ideas...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.