How to Restyle Your Big Old T-Shirts With a Fringe on the Side

Restyle a plain white T-shirt into a side-fringe edgy look.
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Restyle your oversized and outdated old T-shirts into an updated look. Jazz up your unwanted extra-large tee to a rocker top by creating side fringe. You can reshape and contour the tee for a form-fitting style while using the excess side-seam fabric to make self-fabric fringe. Get your creative juices flowing and string colorful beads to the ends of a few fringe pieces as another design alternative. With a few modification steps, you can reconstruct your old T-shirt into a revamped style.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing Machine
  • Clear Graph Ruler
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Dressmaker Straight Pins
  • Protective Sheet
  • Beads (Optional)
  • Disappearing Ink Fabric Pen
  • Iron
  • French Curve Ruler

Smooth out any wrinkles or deep creases from your old T-shirt with your iron. If you are working with a cotton graphic tee with embellishments, cover the artwork with a protective sheet. Glide the iron in a back-and-forth motion using a high-heat setting. Although most cotton tee's recommend a high-heat setting, read the care label for suggested temperature settings, especially if you are working with an embellished tee.

Lay your T-shirt flat on your worktable without turning the tee inside out. The right side of the T-shirt is required for this project. Align the front and back bottom hemlines ensuring both panels match.

Mark a princess seam -- shaped seam that contours the side seams -- on the right side of the tee from the armhole to the bottom hem with a disappearing ink fabric pen using a French curve ruler as your guide. If you are having difficulty shaping the seam, place a clear graph ruler 2 to 3 inches from the side seam. Place the curved ruler at the top of the vertical line and shape the line as you extend it to the armhole. Contour the line with the curved ruler into the armhole seam. Repeat this step on the front left side of the T-shirt.

Pin the front and back T-shirt panels with dressmaker straight pins along the princess seams on the right and left sides. Carefully try on the tee to ensure you are satisfied with the shape and fit. If you are unsatisfied, repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are happy with the fit.

Machine stitch the right side's princess seam closed, using the fabric pen's seam markings as your guide. Stitch from the armhole to the bottom hem to ensure a smooth seam and prevent any puckering. This is the T-shirt's new seam line. Repeat this step on the left side of the tee.

Cut fringe strips approximately 1/4 inch in width on the bias -- diagonal -- with your fabric scissors. For example, position your scissors at the right side bottom hem and slightly angle the scissors to cut the first strip diagonally to the princess seam. Stop cutting approximately 3/8 inch away from the new seam. This ensures the fringe will naturally cascade down the side and not create unnecessary bulk along the new seam.

Repeat step 6 until the entire fringe side is cut from the bottom hem to the underneath area of the armhole. Do not snip open the armhole seam. The last fringe may be slightly wider or shorter in length than the rest of the fringe because of its underarm position. Repeat steps 6 and 7 on the left side of the tee. You can add large hole beads to the ends of the fringe, making a small knot to hold them in place as a stylized design option.


  • Make sure your disappearing ink fabric pen brand does not leave residual markings. Certain fabric pen brands recommend specific ink colors for specific garment colors.

    You can increase or decrease the width of the fringe according to your design.