DIY Workout Tank

If you’re anything like me, chances are you have a collection of random, too-baggy, t-shirts from mud runs, 5k’s, souvenir shops, concert tees or old pit-stained tees from your alma mater that you’ve resigned to wearing only as a night shirt to bed. Yet for some sentimental reason or latent hoarder tendencies, you simply can’t bear to throw them away.

Here’s an easy DIY hack that will upcycle those frumpy, old t-shirts and repurpose them into cute and comfy workout tops.

This look was inspired by Barry’s Bootcamp trainer and fitness model, Astrid McGuire, pictured here, sporting her own DIY Barry’s tee converted into a sexy, backless halter. But let’s be honest, she could wear a gunny sack and make that look good.

DIY Workout Tank

DIY T-Shirt Tank

So, I decided to do a real-world road test and convert a baggy men’s t-shirt into a cute, backless halter that could look flattering on a non-supermodel body. It turns out that this no-sew project is easy and do-able, even for the most craft-impaired.

Shown here are two version.

Version 1 is easiest and looks best with a fairly fitted t-shirt. Meanwhile, VERSION 2 has an extra step(s) to customize baggy t-shirts of any size.

t-shirt 1 numberewd

1 sharp pair of scissors
Any size T-shirt. (For VERSION 1, the more fitted, the better).

Lay out t-shirt flat, face up. Make sure the seams are all lined up and as straight as possible before you make the first cut.

Cut the sleeves at an angle, just under the armpit seam to the outside of the collar.

If the shirt is long, now would be a good time to trim the bottom to the desired length

Now flip the shirt over so the back is facing up.

Make a cut along the collar to separate the shirt and create the halter back.

Now, make the final cut straight across the back from one armhole to the other and discard this flap of fabric (or save for a cleaning rag). You are finished!

If you have a longer, boxier shirt or prefer a more fitted customizable look, here’s an optional extra STEP #5 and/or STEP #6 to ensure a better, more body-conscious fit.

t-shirt 2

Make an incision about an inch or two deep (your choice, depending on how wide you want your ties to be and/or how many ties you want in the back). Your personal preferences are what’s “right.”

Now, make another cut perpendicular to this incision, and cut maybe 6 inches away from the middle. Go back to the center and make the same cut on the other side. Way to go! You’ve just made your first back tie!

Try on the shirt and see if the desired fit is achieved. If not, you can continue to repeat the step above and make as many additional ties as you need.

Once you’ve tied the knots in back, you can trim any excess ends, if necessary.

You can also cut the collar and convert it into neck ties that can be tied as loosely or as tightly as you want.

Since function matters as much as fashion when it comes to workout wear, I road-tested (rather, treadmill-tested) this workout tank during a brutal Barry’s class and it held up and stayed on during a Full Body Day. Not only that, it was actually much more comfortable than my usual basic tank top because the drapey fit and halter back served as much-appreciated ventilation. Instead of having my tank top plastered to my chest like a sweaty, cotton paper maché, I walked out with a fairly dry(ish) shirt.


Minsun Park


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Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter: @MinsunPark