How-to: Add a bow collar to a plain t-shirt

Ways to Refashion a T-shirt

t-shirt with bow

Fancy up a thrift store t-shirt with an oversized bow!

One of the things I love about thrifting is not just finding that cool vintage dress but when I run across something that’s screaming to be something else. It only took about an hour and change to add this bow detail to my thrifted tee, and I love how it turned out! Here’s how you can make your own.

Add a Bow Collar to a T-Shirt


  • Old t-shirt with a boatneck or narrow neckline
  • 1 yard of eco-friendly fabric – I used a linen remnant from a custom order.
  • fabric scissors
  • sewing machine, thread, measuring tape


1. Cut out 4 identical pieces for your bow and iron them. You can do this two ways: either cut simple rectangles or have your bows taper out at the bottom. I went for a tapered bow. Each piece should be 40″ long and 2.5″ wide. If you’re cutting a bow that will be wider at the bottom, you just want the last 4-5″ to taper, and the width at the wide end should be around 4.5″.

bow's tapered end

2. Pair up your bow pieces, and sew the narrow end of each pair together, like this:

bow sewn ends

3. Open up your sewn-together pieces and cut the seams open. You should not have two long strips of fabric. Pin them right sides together, and sew all the way around, leaving about a 2″ gap so that you can where you sewed the narrow ends together. Flip your bow right side out, and iron again, then top stitch the opening closed, using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

4. With your t-shirt right-side out, pin your ribbon around the neck of the shirt. The seam where you sewed the two skinny ends together is the center, so for an off-center bow, you want to pin this off to one side. For a centered bow, center this part on the back of the neck. You want the bottom of the bow to line up with the top edge of the t-shirt. Pin it like this:

pinned bow


5. Sew the bow to the neckline of the shirt so that it goes almost all the way around. You want to leave about a 3.5″ so that you can tie it up and so the neckline will still have a little bit of stretch – you need to get your head through there! When you’re done, flip up the collar that you just added and give it a press with your iron, tie and arrange your bow, and you’re ready to rock!

You can also just tie it in a knot, for a little bit of a different look. Yay for upcycled clothing that’s versatile, too!

1 thought on “How-to: Add a bow collar to a plain t-shirt”

  1. Pingback: Tutorial: Add a neck bow to a plain tee · Sewing |

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