SSW / DIY Unisex Tee Hack

I recently ordered a super cute graphic tee {is that what you call them? Cute words … a typography tee might be better … DO NOT search for graphic tee} online.
I was so excited to get it, until I got it and UGH … the words “unisex” flashed through my mind and I understood just what they meant.
The problem?
I’m not unisex. I’m a girl.
I do not have biceps the size of my husbands, nor do I have a barrel chest, but I do have hips (that don’t lie).
I really, really, really tried to love this shirt.

But I couldn’t.
Until I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

I couldn’t return it {should have been clue #2, following the words “unisex”} so I figured I might as well try to hack it into a wearable t-shirt.

I first tried to use an existing tee with a good fit as a template to simply ‘shave a little off’ the sides and take in the sleeves.
Fail. As in, no photo kind of fail.

Next idea? Use one of my trusty patterns and see how I could salvage this hot mess of a shirt.

Que the Union St. Tee  pattern by Hey June Patterns … Ahhhhhh yeahhhhh.


So, this was a bit of an experiment and thus I did not take any photos of the process.

What I’m going to do instead is walk you through the basics (this post assumes you have basic sewing/pattern knowledge) referencing another ‘unisex’ tee {although not really a bad fit overall and a perfect sleep shirt, so I do not want to actually cut it up} for photo purposes.

Step 1.
Lay out ill-fitting tee making sure all of your seams are aligned on top of each other and everything is laying smoothly.


Step 2.Using a long ruler, locate the center of your shirt, measuring from armpit to armpit.
This *should* ensure that the graphic on your tee will be properly centered on your hacked version. However, in my case, the printing was also off, so I found the center line of the graphic used that as my reference line.
Use a disappearing/washable fabric pencil/marker to draw your center line.



Step 3.
Place your tee-shirt front pattern piece on the shirt to make sure it is going to fit.
As you can see from my example shirt, there is enough fabric to cut my front pattern piece.
Do the same thing for your tee-shirt back + sleeve pattern piece.

DO NOT CUT your shirt until you’ve checked all of your pattern pieces.
Usually you will have some extra length at the hem that you can use for your neck-band pattern piece.

** You’ll notice in the image above that I do not have extra length and in fact my hip/hem would be more narrow than the pattern piece. Keep that in mind as you evaluate your shirt to be hacked and the pattern you’ve chosen. **

Step 4.
CAREFULLY cut your shirt along the seams and lay out your four pieces of fabric (you should have a front/back/sleeve (x2)).
Fold your front fabric along the center line and cut out front pattern piece.
Repeat for back, sleeves & neck-band.


** Because I first tried to shave off a little on the sides, I did not have enough front fabric for my front pattern piece. After I cut along the seam lines (as noted above), I then straightened up the sides of my front fabric using my center line. (I know that my main graphic piece still looks off-center … that is why I included the ruler above. The left justification throws off the eye.) I then cut (2) 2.5″ strips of gray heathered knit to sew to the sides of my front fabric giving me enough width for my front pattern piece. I liked the idea of a more deconstructed look so I serged the two pieces {wrong sides} together and then pressed the seam toward the side and top-stitched to hold it down. **


Step 5.
Follow your preferred tee-shirt pattern directions to finish your custom fit tee!

** I used the same gray knit from Step 4. for my back fabric and neck binding. I cut my sleeves from the back fabric of the original shirt. Don’t hesitate to mix-n-match knits if you don’t have enough to work with. **

How to Hack a Unisex Tee

Celebrate that you made lemonade from a lemon of a shirt!!

Follow along with my sewing + life adventures on Instagram @knittybitties.


  1. Julie T. says:

    I want to try this, and the aurora! Great inspiration!


  1. […] And I’m amazed how she turned this Unisex tee into something more fashionable! […]

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