NASA Shirt {refashion} + tutorial

One day during my second internship with NASA, there was a “town hall” meeting with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and all the NASA interns. Ames decided to give out some t-shirts commemerating the occasion. They did not, however, differentiate the sizes when tossing the shirts into the awaiting audience of interns…..

my friend Hannah ended up with an XL (or larger!) blue NASA t-shirt. the problem? She is like a size 2.


so, after waiting a year, drawing up plan after plan to change the shirt into something wearable (it did have a nice NASA logo), and even buying some light blue mesh fabric to add, she just left the fabric with me at the end of the summer and said “I don’t care what you do with it…”

dangerous words to tell a designer.

I took the shirt, blue mesh fabric, and a bit of elastic I found in my stash, and made this:

{I used the back of the t-shirt for the shirt lining}

the tank top is modeled after a one I picked up at Target. I really like the fit of the tank with the curved lines around around the top of the garment!


Note: quit reading here if you don’t want to read the following tutorial – I’m going to outline how to turn any oversized t-shirt with an awesome graphic into a similar tank!

First, find a tank top that fits you well, trace around it onto newspaper to create the basic pattern

*note: make sure to smooth curves with your curved drafting rulers and remeasure each significant point (bust, waist, hip). no measuring got me in the end, as you’ll see….

cut out all the various pattern pieces, it’s easiest if you add seam allowances in the paper pattern. I didn’t add seam allowances to any edge that was going to be bound and not seamed (basically, all the arm and neck openings)

as you can see below, I couldn’t quite get the NASA logo to be centered on the tank. So, I cut it out and decided to applique the logo on later.

However this made it tricky to cut out all the pieces and I creatively folded the shirt to get three pieces on the fold…

I also cut out a number of 1 3/4″ mesh strips (not on the bias, but you can only get away with doing that with a stretchy fabric!) and began assembling the shirt. I finished all the binding and non-side seams with two rows of top stitching. The side seams were finished with an overlocker and I  hemmed the tank with a double row of stitching. Make sure to use a ball point needle with jersey material – it makes all the difference in the world when you’re stitching the material!

(appliqued NASA meatball, top mesh pieces seamed and topstitched)

finally, I tried the tank on, even though I’m not exactly hannah’s size… the downside to using tshirt jersey? it’s not very stretchy. And remember how I forgot to remeasure the pattern? yeah. turns out the waist was fine but the bust and hip were not (or so I thought. when hannah actually tried it on I made the underarm too large 😦 ) I made a side panel insert to widen the garment appropriately, tore out the seams and re worked the binding. Yes, I basically made the shirt twice….

Done! What do you think? Would your remake a tshirt to an athletic tank? This style is great for  rock climbing 🙂 When I get it back from Hannah to fix it, I think I might add pockets along the back to make it better for cycling!


3 thoughts on “NASA Shirt {refashion} + tutorial

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