Like the popular off-the-shoulder t-shirt look? This flattering style is one that’s here to stay, as other fashion trends come and go. A shoulderless shirt reads casual, on trend and effortless. Whether you want to upcycle an old band t-shirt or cut brand-new t-shirts to sell online, it’s easy to get started with a DIY off-the-shoulder cutting project that you can do right at home.
The off-the-shoulder look is versatile, since you can bare one shoulder (sometimes called the “cold-shoulder’ look) or both shoulders. If you look at what’s hot at retail and on the runways, you’ll see shoulderless necklines on everything from t-shirts to dresses, to jumpsuits and gowns.
These hot off-the-shoulder styles are right in your reach! If you’ve got an old t-shirt and a pair of fabric scissors, you can create a custom look at home. We’ll show you how easy it is to make an off-the-shoulder shirt, whether you want to wear the style yourself or sell them on your website.
Celebrities like Olivia Culpo, Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Dakota Johnson, Bella Hadid and Candace Swanepoel love sporting their off-the-shoulder tops. The feminine look is distinct, fashion-forward and classy—and never goes out of style. It’s simple and fun to DIY your way to turning any of your favorite crew neck or boyfriend t-shirts into a chic, but still comfortable, off-the-shoulder top.
Before we dive in, let’s review a few reasons why you’ll love DIYing your own off-the-shoulder shirts to wear or sell.
They’re easy to make: Whether you want a one-shoulder t-shirt, or to show both shoulders, there’s no sewing required. You’ll just need to follow some easy measuring instructions and use fabric scissors to create the new neckline.
You can use t-shirts you already own: If you want to give new life to an old graphic tee or band t-shirt, you can easily turn your shirt into an off-the shoulder top.
You can dress this style up or down: Turn things up by layering an off-the-shoulder style with a blazer or cardigan, and wearing your statement jewelry. Keep it casual with jeans or leggings.
While you can buy off-the-shoulder shirts at retail, it’s more fun and creative to make your own version, especially when you upcycle old t-shirts you haven’t worn in a while.
First fold your t-shirt in half, so that the back of the t-shirt is “inside.” The two halves of the neck should line up. Use your fabric chalk to mark the center of the neck at the fold.
3. Take Your Personal Body Measurements.
You can look in a mirror, if it helps you to be more accurate. Use your measuring tape to get the distance from the base of the side of your neck, moving diagonal to just below your shoulder. This will be the line that your one-shoulder neckline will drape. (Once you have that measurement, divide it by two. This will be important in step 4.)
4. Compare Your Personal Measurements to Your New Neckline.
Now, lay your t-shirt flat, face up. You should be able to see where you marked your neckline in the second step. Use your tape measure to measure diagonally from the shoulder on one side to the neckline marker. This measurement should be half of your original measurement. If that original measurement was 10 inches, this should be 5 inches.)
5. It’s Time to Start Cutting.
Use your scissors to cut the seam of the neckline from the starting point at the shoulder to your mark on the center of the neck seam. However, only cut the top, or front, layer of the t-shirt. When you reach the middle, fold down the flap you made, and cut around it. (Don’t worry about cutting a perfect line.)
Next, cut the rest of the shirt collar from the back of your t-shirt. Complete your off-the-shoulder look by removing the hemline and seams on the sleeves. This will give your t-shirt a more relaxed look!
6. Make Sure That You’ve Got Just the Right Off-Shoulder Fit.
If this is your first time cutting a shoulderless top, you might need to do a little tweaking to keep your drape in place. Remember, everyone has a different shoulder width, but you can customize your fit.
Your new neckline should hug you right below your shoulder. If the neckline hole you cut droops too far below your shoulder, you can use a safety pin to secure it. You can also use another technique to keep your t-shirt in place if you’ve worn your shirt a few times. Sometimes, the t-shirt material gets a little looser the more times you wear it, so you’ll need to keep it in place.
Here’s a quick and easy way to create a DIY fastener:
Attach two safety pins to both ends of a wide, stretchy rubber band. Attach this to the top of your sleeve, pinning it on the seam or elastic, so it’s “invisible.” Repeat this for the other side of your t-shirt.
When you wear your off-the-shoulder top, slide your arms into the fastener, and the bands will rest underneath your armpits. That way, your t-shirt stays secure and doesn’t move around as you wear it, so you look and feel great!
How to Cut a Truly Shoulderless T-Shirt
We just showed you how to cut a one-shoulder t-shirt. But what if you want both shoulders exposed? Building on the steps above, here’s how to cut this slightly different neckline:
1. Lay your t-shirt completely flat on your workspace.
2. Use your measuring tape to measure from the shoulder seam (along the sleeve) about 1 ½ to 2 inches down. Mark the spot with your fabric chart. Repeat this on the other sleeve. Then, connect the two marks with a fabric chalk line that arcs downward like a smile.
3. Finally, use your fabric scissors to cut along the chalk line, cutting both the back and front at the same time. You can pin the front and back before cutting if you want a more secure fabric line. That’s it! Try on your t-shirt, and make any adjustments if you want the off-the-shoulders look to be more dramatic.
How to Cut More Off-the-Shoulder Tees in Less Time
If you’re a t-shirt reseller who wants to stock and sell lots of off-the-shoulder shirts in more time efficiently, we’ve got some expert tips and tricks you can use to speed up your operation. You’ll be cutting more shoulderless t-shirts in less time!
1. Optimize Your Work Area.
That might include setting up a long table or counter so you can arrange your t-shirts, supplies and tools in the most efficient way possible. Place your items in a logical order so you move through the measuring and cutting process as easily and quickly as possible. Store your tools in handy containers so everything you need is accessible while you’re working, and conveniently stored when you’re not working on a DIY shoulderless shirt project. If you like to sit when you’re working, purchase a swivel roller desk chair.
2. Perfect Your Processes.
It’s a good idea to perform similar operations at the same time. For example, let’s say you’re working on five one-shoulder shirt projects. First, measure and mark all shirts. Then, pin all of your shirts before starting to cut them. Then, cut each shirt. That way, you can speed up your processes and minimize needing to move up and down the line for each step, for each shirt.
3. Invest in the Right Tools.
If you’re planning to make and sell lots of off-the-shoulder shirts, you should invest in quality tools and supplies to get professional results. Here’s a short list of some of the items we recommend:
High-quality blanks: You’ll want to invest in high-quality t-shirts when you’re cutting, decorating and reselling garments.
High-quality fabric scissors: Purchase a pair of scissors meant for fabric only. Don’t use them to cut paper or other items, as it’ll dull them, and you’ll get ragged edges when you cut your t-shirts.
Smaller scissors: Use these to clip threads or loose edges.
Seam ripper: It’s always a good idea to have a seam ripper or two on hand if you need them.
Measuring tape: Purchase a regular measuring tape and a retractable one so you have both on hand.
Straight pins and safety pins: You’ll use pins to secure your fabric before cutting, and for making adjustments.
Fabric marker or chalk: Purchase a few different types and colors for different fabric types and shades so you can accurately mark your cut lines.
Shop Threadsy for Your Next Off-the-Shoulder T-Shirt Project
Now that you’re ready to start your DIY off-the-shoulder shirt project, Threadsy makes it easy to find high-quality shirts to showcase your beautiful and stylish designs. Choosing the right t-shirt might just be the most important part of gathering your supplies. After all, your t-shirt is your blank canvas for your creativity and self-expression! You can choose from our great selection of men's crew neck shirts or women's plain t-shirts.