That time I destroyed a t-shirt

So we are a little behind here, but long story short my phone shat itself with half of my photos for content on here and after much swearing, I recovered nothing. Are you surprised?

So today I’m trying something new. I’m going to do a “DIY upcycle” shirt thing. Because DIY wasn’t wanky enough without adding “upcycle” to it. Yes, I’m sure I’m saving the environment by hacking up something old of mine. If it does, well hey, call me a lean, green DIY machine. But don’t, because that’s stupid.

Anyway, so I have a backlog of DIY shit to try, so here’s my first attempt at doing a cut out braided t-shirt thing. Previously I’ve bought shirts like this, but figured, like many of my arty, crafty, talented, frugal friends, that I should give this a go myself.

diyNo, no I don’t.

So because I love geeky things and being a fatty, I scored a free Batman Arkham Knight *insert shameless promotion* shirt with my free gelato at N2 Extreme Gelato *insert even more shameless, but delicious promotion* who were just giving shit away to promote the new game.

After a failed attempt at winning a playstation with my amazing photoshop skills (see below) I thought I should at least attempt something cool with my free tee.

batmanEven Batman likes free gelato.

Anyway, enough Batman and back story, lets get to the cutting up and destroying of my free couture.

To start, I cut off the collar and hemmed part of the sleeves. There is probably a better name for this.. Sleeve end? End cap sleeve? Sleeve butt? Obviously, I cut this with extreme precision.

tshirt1This is a straight line, right?

Then I pulled on the bits I cut off to make it bend and shit. This is my favourite part because when it curls over, you can’t see how shitty and jagged you cut the sleeve butts off. It’s also a bit like waiting for something to explode. You hear a snap or two of the stitches coming out and just wait for it to explode into a thousand pieces with your mighty strength, in a mushroom cloud of cotton and shame.

After this seemingly easy part, the pictures became unclear and I discovered that my first problem was that I was following a tutorial that was clearly German.

“2. Den Rückenteil genau in der Mitte falten (am besten kurz bügeln, damit das ganze stabiler ist)” …. Of course!!

I could have used Google translate for this, but I decided to be a stubborn asshole about it and “do it myself”.

So the next step was making all of the horizontal cuts in the back of the shirt to prep for braiding. In theory, this seems easy, but I had many questions. How far apart? What shape? Should I draw this shit on first? What if I try to do this gradient shape and it looks more like a rubbish can or Sarah Jessica Parker’s face?
I decided to abandon my cautionary anxieties and figured that I’d just knife it and see what happens. Ironically, the phrase “I’ll just knife it and see what happens” is probably the motto of all of Batman’s enemies, so this approach felt fitting.

This actually took me a while to work out. How am I supposed to cut the holes properly without piercing the other side of the shirt? And don’t tell me “just put some cardboard or a cutting board in the shirt, moron” because that wouldn’t work and fuck you.
This stupid shirt didn’t have a side seam, so that made my life much more difficult. Thanks free shirt, you and your hippy ass, seam-free ways are preventing me from knowing what the fuck direction you are supposed to sit. I made a crisp fold down the middle of the shirt (thanks, pointy Batman symbol!) hoping that it would reflect the same crisp fold on the back side, you know because t-shirts are square.

But no, this shirt is apparently a fucking rhombus or something, as it kept having a big curve for some reason. Like this wasn’t enough of a problem, the sleeve now looked like a vulva and I couldn’t stop staring at it.

tshirt2This about sums up the last paragraph.

Anyway, I gave up on getting a straight line for the middle of the back, as this shirt was clearly made for Quasimodo, and decided to just cut it anyway and hope it turned out okay… Until I went to start and realised how high the first cut was on the tutorial. The aim was to cut the first line about 2cm away from the very top. However, this appeared to be near the vulva sleeve, which, like vulvas, isn’t quite clear where they begin and end when you first look at them. I did my best and started to cut my strips, trying to create a diagonal line so they got smaller each time.

Unfortunately, I was also sitting at a bit of an angle, and this happened.

tshirt3Maybe “Blurred Lines” is really about just trying to DIY a t-shirt.

Anyway, that shit turned out not to matter. I did the fun stretchy thing again where I watched strips of fabric turn into string.

Now was the “fun” part! I use the term “fun” loosely, because this is where it starts to feel more like crochet or knitting, or some other repetitive thing where everything gets fucked up. There were a few ways to do this – I could braid down the middle, do both sides, do some kind of weird twin braiding thing but I figured I’d just stick to basics and go with straight down the middle.

The tutorial said (okay fine, I caved and translated the page, but it was all backwards and rarely helpful anyway, so eat a dick) to go anticlockwise, but I was just looking at the pictures so I decided to do whatever the fuck direction I wanted and went clockwise so I could stick it to the man of DIY.

Take that, Tim.

I did my best to stick to the middle of my loops so I didn’t get all off centre, leaving me with a drunk looking braid. Surprisngly, I did okay at this. I also decided that my loops were too big once I finished, so I got the shits and did it all again.

tshirt4That shit is tight, yo.
(actually you can only really see that its tighter at the bottom, but shut up, this is my story)

This time, it looked a lot more awesome, but as I would tighten the “string” around my finger to make it smaller, it got more and more to one particular side and I got that drunken braid look. I just shoved it around until it looked about right again and kept on my merry way.

I got stuck at the end. I didn’t read the last step where you need to sew in the bottom (realistically I had no idea what I thought was going to happen, obviously that it would magically just combine itself into an infinite knot of disarray) so I just sat there for 20 minutes with my finger in a loop, not sure how to make my next move. Fearing my work would unravel and lives would be lost, I waited, alone, for someone to save me.

A dramatic re-enactment.

Eventually, boyfriend came to the rescue and after a brief argument about what cotton is (“can you get me some black cotton?” “No! What are you talking about? What is that? You come get it.” “I can’t, I’m stuck.” “Gah! What is it?” “Cotton!” “Thread?” “YES.”), I was saved.

The last step was vague, “last small loop with a few stitches sewing” thanks to Google translate, so I knew I had to sew something. I just grabbed the bottom piece and shoved it through the loop and hoped for the best.

For some reason I thought this method lengthened the shirt, but maybe that’s only if you do the stretching thing on the sides, or all way down, or don’t braid it. I don’t know, I’m not a physicist.

As I was nearly done and my subconscious clearly decided I hadn’t fucked this up enough, I decided to cut the sleeves down more and do some stretchy things on them too for good measure. I then decided to do it again because I had no idea what I was doing and it looked ridiculous. In this last minute panic, I of course accidentally cut a loop, soo, I just cut that whole bit off. Pretend you didn’t notice it.

This bodged it even more, so I decided to use my new found braiding talents!

Until I accidentally sewed the armhole shut.


After I rectified that rookie mistake, I completed the braids. They looked just as bad, maybe they need to just settle. But I did find they looked slightly better if I wedged it into my bra a bit, but that’s not an ideal long term solution.



… For this reason, I’ll probably just end up cutting the whole sleeve off, otherwise this crying sleeve will haunt my nightmares.

So lets just remember the shirt in its former glory.

Here is the finished* product!

tshirt7Don’t act like you’re not impressed by my bacon and egg pajamas.

All things considering, pretty happy with a first attempt at t-shirt braiding in the back.

As for the sleeves, well, lets just pretend that never fucking happened.

Stay Cussy!!



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