How to Distress a T-Shirt

Distressing A T-Shirt Framed by Sarah (1)

The words “vintage” or “distressed” can be used with just about anything these days.  Distressed items are those that look aged or worn. A really fun trend is to distress your T-shirts with a pair of scissors! ✂️

Maybe it’s a way to express your creativity….that longing to not look like everyone else. Maybe it’s the fit that you want to change up.  Sometimes a collar that’s too high or a sleeve that’s too long can be a nuisance. Or maybe you just want to be on-trend and add a little funky flare to your wardrobe.

Whether it’s an old one you’ve had in your closet for a while or one you just purchased, I’ve got a few ways you can add a fun distressed look to your tees.

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No t-shirts were harmed in the making of this blog….however I do recommend starting with a tee you won’t mind ruining….just until you get the hang of it.

DIY Off the Shoulder Distressed T-Shirt

I started with one of my Patriotic Tie Dye Tees 

This tee has kind of a high collar and has bothered me a little.  Because of that, I decided it would be perfect for an off-the-shoulder look.

Start by laying out your tee on a flat solid surface and smooth out any wrinkles.

I use 4 fingers to measure from the outside of the collar to my cut.  Note: choose which side you want this on.  I chose my right shoulder because I typically have my hair pulled to the side on my left shoulder.

Cut both sides of the shirt (the top and bottom layers).  

As you start to get past your fingers you want to curve with the collar of the shirt.

How to Distress a T-Shirt
How to Distress a T-Shirt
How to Distress a T-Shirt

Once you are at the middle of the shirt you are going to start cutting up closer to the collar.  You can see, I get right next to the collar on my last cut, but I do not cut the seam.

Now you want to stretch it out, tug on it several times with both hands and opposite ends, you will start to see a curling effect where you made your cuts.

How to Distress a T-Shirt

Next, we are going to trim the sleeves and give them the same curling effect as the collar.

Cut as close the seam as you can without cutting it….going through both layers.

Tug and stretch the sleeves just like you did the collar.

Throw on your favorite lacy tank or bralette and rock your new off-the-shoulder look!!❤️

Sarah in distressed tee 1

Cutting an Old Tee

For the second distressed t-shirt transformation, I picked one of my T-Shirt Club tees from July.  I wanted to show a little less shoulder, but create some more cuts to add a little more fun!

Start by trimming the collar off.  I get as close to the seams as I can without cutting it.  This will open the neck a little without showing too much skin.

How to Distress a T-Shirt
How to Distress a T-Shirt

Next, I create a butterfly cut on the sleeves.

Make 2 cuts, one on each side of the seam, without cutting the seam.

Insert your scissors into the sleeve edge and cut all the way around, giving it a butterfly look.
Pull and stretch the sleeves to help them curl a bit.

I added 2 slits to the front of the tee directly below the collar.  Note: Be aware of how low you go and how far over the bra line you are.  I want to wear a normal bra with this, so I tried to keep it off my shoulder.

Stretch those slits to help them curl.

From there I went to the sleeves.  I laid them flat and added 3 slits along the fold, getting both layers.

Pull and stretch to make them curl.

Add your favorite accessories and slay your day in your newly distressed tee!

How to Distress a T-Shirt

Add your favorite accessories and slay your day in your newly distressed tee!


Sarah in distressed tee 2

What do you think? Have you ever taken a pair of scissors to distress a t-shirt? I would love to see!

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