Refashion – Zip Back T-shirt with Tutorial

Today I have a very easy, fun and satisfying DIY refashion to share with you. If you've ever inserted a zipper, this will be a breeze for you. Yesterday, in my DIY Outfit post I shared my inspiration for this top as well as sewing patterns and fabric to make it all yourself. If you don't feel like starting from scratch, you can grab a striped t-shirt from your closet or the local thrift store. Read on for all the how-to details.

I had an old hand-me-down t-shirt that had become kind of stretched out over the years. It was just screaming to be made over. I found a colorful zipper in my stash and I was ready to go. By the way, I highly recommend having a zipper stash. Over the years I found some super cheap (as in 10 cents) zippers at thrift stores and snatched them up. It's so handy to have a box full at the ready.

Adding the zipper, takes in the shirt a couple of inches at the center back. It was perfect for this shirt, giving it just the right fit. If you're making your own or buying a new (or previously used) one, be aware, it will be a little smaller when you're done.

How to Refashion a Zip Back T-shirt

Zipper (about 24 inches long)
2 strips of interfacing (1 inch wide by length of shirt)

Step 1: Fold the t-shirt in half with the fold down the center back. Cut along the fold and finish the raw edges.

Step 2: Adhere interfacing strips to wrong side of cut edges. Fold cut edges to inside.

Step 3: Pin zipper to folded edges and stitch in place. Topstitch folded edge in place.

Design Tips:

  • To see more of the zipper, stitch the zipper on top of the right side of the shirt (instead of the inside as I did here). 
  • Use contrasting thread for added design details. You could even redo the topstitching along the hem or neckline to match the zipper.
  • A contrasting color zipper makes this shirt feel really special. Choose one in a neon color for extra fun.
  • Try adding zippers to other seams like the bottom side seam or the front of a raglan sweatshirt.

Here I've styled the shirt with some casual skinny jeans, a matching vintage bracelet and driving moccasins. It's a great t-shirt for weekend wear, casual but still interesting.


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