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DIY Fashion: Bow Back T-Shirt


DIY project: bow back tee shirt
{Shirt: Delia’s}

This summer, cutout and low back t-shirts have been extremely popular – you can find them in almost any store! These shirts are a perfect way to achieve a summery vibe and beat the heat. One of my favorite styles is the bow back t-shirt (see above); it creates such an effortlessly girly and chic look, and can easily be tucked into a skirt or worn with your favorite denim cutoffs. This DIY will show you how to make your own bow back t-shirt from an old tee you have lying around.

What you’ll need:

  • An old t-shirt – although any cut will work, a scoop or crew neck will work best for this DIY
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread OR sewing machine
  • Seam ripper (Optional – for fixing mistakes!)

How to:


1. First, make sure your shirt has been washed and dried if it’s new. Lay it out so you are looking at the back of the shirt, making sure that the seams on each side are even and the entire shirt is flat. On the back of the shirt, make light pencil markings for how wide you want your cutout area to be, and how far down the shirt you want it to go (see the finish product at the end of the post for an idea of where mine was).


2. Begin cutting one half of a “U” shape in the back of the shirt. Make sure you don’t cut through both sides! Try not to pull or move the shirt too much while you cut, and avoid closing the blades of the scissors all the way so you don’t get jagged edges. Once you have cut half of the U shape, stop cutting.


3. Fold the half “U” over to the other side of the shirt to use it as a guide. Cut along so both sides are even.


4. Cut out the pieces for your bow. Cut off the top of the “U” to make a rectangle, about 4 to 5″ tall. Cut another strip of fabric, about 1 inch tall. You should end up with 3 pieces, similar to the ones shown. You will only be using the top two pieces.


5. Make your bow using the fabric you just cut. Fold the larger rectangles like a fan- the folds should be horizontal. Pull your needle and thread through the center to hold the folds in place. Then, using the strip of fabric, wrap the center of the fan. Cut off the excess length, and sew along the edge to form a loop. Your bow is complete!


6. Align your bow. I found mine looked best when it was at the top so the neckline was continuous, but you can put it lower if you want. Turn your shirt inside out, then pin the bow so that the side of the bow you want facing outward is facing in, too. In other words, you’ll be looking at the “inside” of the finished product when you sew, so that the seam will be on the inside of the shirt. Try the shirt on inside out while it’s still pinned to make sure you like where the bow is.


7. Sew your bow in place. Make sure you knot or backstitch, since this area will receive a lot of strain. Turn your shirt right side out, and you’re done!

DIY bow back tee shirt

DIY bow back tee

You could also add more bows if you want, or even cut out the entire back and make bows all the way down. The amount of the back you cut out can completely change the look of this shirt. Don’t let the idea of sewing scare you. Although a needle or sewing machine may seem daunting, it just takes a little practice and patience! And if you do mess up, you can use a seam ripper to tear out any seams you messed up on. If you don’t have a seam ripper, you can also use a pair of scissors, you’ll just have to be extra careful. Most mistakes in sewing are fixable, so don’t stress – just be creative!

Your thoughts?

What do you think about cutout and low back shirts? Will you be making your own bow back shirt? Have any other DIY’s you’d love to see? Tell us in the comments!

Posted on on July 27, 2012 / Filed Under: Miscellaneous / Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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28 Responses to “DIY Fashion: Bow Back T-Shirt”

  1. 1
    July 27th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I love this tutorial! Definitely going to do it~

  2. 2
    July 27th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This is so cute I love low back shirts ;) Great post!

  3. 3
    July 27th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I love it I love it I Looooooooooove it

  4. 4
    July 27th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Really cute! Such a great DIY

  5. 5
    July 27th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Wow it looks great. Good job!

  6. 6
    July 27th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Love love love this tutorial! Definitely going to try this one out.

  7. 7
    July 28th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    There’s a much simpler way to do this DIY – just cut wide slits in the back of the shirt, bunch up the material and put a stitch in to create the bow.

  8. 8
    July 28th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    So glad you loved it! I would loved to see how it turns out.

    Emily, I’ve seen that way too! I wanted to create a larger cutout, and I wanted it to have a more finished look so I covered the stitching. There are a lot of different ways to do this, depending on the look you want!

  9. 9
    July 31st, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Awesome idea! A fun and relatively easy diy with lots of room for creative variations. I especially like that it allows you to adjust the cutout to accommodate covering the back bra strap. I’m also thinking it could be a great alternative for taking in the neck of a shirt that otherwise fits, a problem I run into a lot because of my proportionally broad shoulders. Thanks!

  10. 10
    August 10th, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Not sure if anyone is still checking comments on this post, but do you know if the unfinished bits from the cutout will unravel over time?

  11. 11
    August 10th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Kate- As long as you use a knit shirt (as in tshirt material, not like a sweater knit) you’ll be fine.

  12. 12
    August 17th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Great DIY! I ended up doing it on a floral shirt using beish fabric for the bows and extra material from the U cut out to tie them together, I did 2 bows. I love it and I”m planning on showing it of on the first day of school. Thanks

  13. 13
    September 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    So I read the part that said to be careful not to cut through the shirt and thought “Haha, that’s unnecessary, who’d be stupid enough to do that?” And guess what I did… oops…
    Great tutorial!

  14. 14
    June 7th, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I just did this and it is so cute! love it <333

  15. 15
    June 25th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Emily’s right! For those of us who don’t have a sewing machine!

  16. 16
    November 19th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I attempted this DIY and failed miserably! I sewed my bow on too high up and cut too much off! Oh well, hopefully I’ll do better next time!

  17. 17
    August 13th, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    This is absolutely adorable! My husband works for a beer distributor and is always bringing home t-shirt that are way too big for me. Now I can make them into something cute for me to wear!

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