T-shirt Projects

I-Love-the-’80s Fringe Fabulous T-shirts

It’s springtime, which means one thing to me: T-shirt weather! It’s an exciting time here in the Land of Generation T, because as many of you know, it only gets better: After spring comes summer, which means we all get a little more scantily clad — T-shirts turn into tank tops and tube tops and ooh-la-la! So grab your scissors (to cut away some of that extra fabric, of course), crank up the color (bring on those fabric spray paints), and hop in your fabulous fashion time machine, because fringe is enjoying a bit of a renaissance this season. Last weekend, I dialed back the decades and dug into my craft stash to make some classic ’80s-inspired geometric tees.


-light-colored T-shirt (I used a light blue one)

-masking tape
fabric scissors
fabric spray paint (variety of colors)
-scrap newsprint paper

Make it:

1. Lay the T-shirt flat. Use masking tape to mark a horizontal line about 8″ up from the bottom of the shirt. Find the vertical center of the shirt and apply tape to the chest-region of the T-shirt to create a crisscrossing geometric pattern.

2. Insert the newsprint paper between the layers of the T-shirt to prevent the paint from bleeding through. Then apply fabric spray paint over the taped area. Apply another color or two, then let dry.

3. Peel back the tape, and then lay down more tape (I cut the tape strips in half, thirds, and quarters to make thinner lines) across your pattern to create a modified plaid pattern. Then spray paint more color!

4. Let dry completely before peeling off the tape to reveal your design.

5. Cut off the bottom hem of the T-shirt, just above the stitching. Then, using the tape marker you pressed down in step 1 as your guide, cut 1/3″- to 1/2″-wide fringe from the bottom edge of the shirt.

6. Cut off the sleeve hems, just above the stitching, and cut out the neckband, just below the neckband edge in the front and the back, and about 2″ wider on the sides.

7. Gently tug on the fringe to stretch it out (the fabric edges will curl in). Try it on!

8. Grab up additional T-shirts and experiment with your paint patterns and fringe — cut it on a diagonal, in a chevron-inspired V-shape, make it long or short!

Then pack a picnic, sling your boombox over your shoulder, and turn up any of the decade’s Billboard hits!

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[ Posted on May 22nd, 2012 ]


  1. Jerri Dyke says:

    Really like the V-shaped pattern shirt. They all look really great.
    If I may be so bold to add an extra step that will add to the longevity of the colors. After spraying the shirt with the paints once the paint has dried, prior to cutting off the hems, etc., press the shirt.
    Take a piece of regular wax paper(or a teflon sheet) large enough to cover the front of the shirt. Take your home iron on the highest setting and press (up and down motion), not iron (back & forth motion) each section where the paint is. This sets the paint into the fabric. The paint may still fade, but not as quickly. Allow the wax paper to cool completely prior to removing.
    This is also useful when using fabric pens or crayons.
    Thank you for all of your wonderful ideas.

  2. megan says:

    thanks for the suggestion, Jerri!

  3. Emily says:

    I like the chevron-shaped shirt on the left–it’d look more flattering on me than just going straight across my abdomen area.

  4. Emily says:

    Also, would the fabric spray paint work on a black shirt? I remember black and fluorescent was a staple of the 80’s and early 90’s. As for places to wear this shirt, my first thought would be the roller-skating rink.

  5. […] friend! Shirt #2, below, is a variation of the Fringe Benefits shirt from Generation T and the Fringe Fabulous shirt from […]

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