Thursday, June 11, 2015

Getting Crafty with a Race Shirt

I have talked much on the blog and the Facebook page about being an art geek. And, that's not a title I take lightly.

I also have written about my "selectiveness" with running clothes. Nothing cotton. Bright colors. Funky shoes (usually with pretty laces). And, I prefer the shirts to be more fitted than loose.

I'm a tall gal (5'9), and have a slender build. I'm kind of borderline when it comes to shirts....I usually get a medium-sized shirt if it's a ladies cut, and I go with a small if it's unisex sizing. That's what works for me. Oh, and did I mention that I hate crew-necks? I prefer a scoop neck, or a V-neck...but those aren't always an option. There have been many a race shirt that I have taken the liberty to cut out the neck (making it more of a scoop neckline).

People often ask me (or they probably wonder in silence) why I "destroy" a race shirt? My answer? If I'm not ever gonna wear it with the (cumbersome and unflattering) crew neck, why not make it into something that I WILL wear? If the race shirts are cotton, they usually get donated or left at the check-in table; if they are made of tech fabric, they usually won't fray when cut (did you know that?). You can do this with cotton shirts, but the cut edges will probably curl.

I did a couple half marathons that both came with Brooks short-sleeved tech shirts, coincidentally in the same exact blue color. Both shirts had pretty cool designs on them, but did I really need two shirts in the same color? (I think not)  And, both of the shirts also were sporting crew necks (double whammy).

One shirt was from the Rock 'N Roll St. Louis Half  Marathon (October 2013), which had really cool artwork on the front and also on the back. The other shirt was from the Dam to Dam Half Marathon, which basically had the logo on the front and most of the back was plain.

This shirt is from the Rock 'N Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

Without much hesitation, I laid out shirt #2 and grabbed a couple of favorite racer-back tank tops. I modeled the front to have the same "cut-away" arm holes as the tank top. The back was a little trickier. I wanted it to have the racer-back look (so it wouldn't be too obvious of a DIY), but I didn't have any tanks that would work with the image placement on the back. Always thinking outside the box, I used a frisbee to give me the perfect circle pattern for the armholes on the back. Presto! A "new" singlet!

The first "Kim-ified"race shirt

Since then, I have cut a few other shirts into singlets. Most recently, I transformed a shirt from a favorite race (from the 2013 race) and wore it to this year's event. And, a lot of runners came up and asked me about my shirt, wondering where I got it (because there weren't any shirts like it at the expo). Ironically, the ladies event shirts this year were the same color (pink) as the one I had modified, but the logo was slightly different. They had a few spare black shirts at the expo, so I was able to swap the 2015 pink shirt for a black one.

This time I remembered to take a few pics to illustrate the process:

Step 1- I took the other modified shirt (from last year) and used that as a pattern. Since these were from the same company (and the same size), it was easy to layer the cut shirt over the new shirt. You can use any tank top as a pattern, just be careful to take into account any designs/screen prints on the shirt.

Layered up and ready!

Step 2- With a ball point pen (or, if you're too fearful of making the mark in the wrong place, you can use chalk), carefully outline the pattern onto the shirt. If you're afraid of cutting away too much, just draw the line closer to the arm hole.

Cut-away lines in place (front side)

Step 3- A trick I came up with, to make it easier to cut the fabric, is to put tape over the cut lines. Use scotch tape for this. I tried using packing tape one time, and it was too sticky. It was more difficult to peel off (after cutting), and some of the edges frayed as a result.

Scotch taped (back side)

A closer look

Step 4- Carefully cut away the sleeves and neck.

The cut-aways

Step 5-When finished cutting, remove the tape. Try to peel it away towards the edge, not along it. If you peel it "parallel" to the edge (instead of "perpendicular" to it), you may fray the edging as it puts more tension on the fabric

The finished Dam singlet on race day

Side note-- Last summer I also ran the Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. Guess what color shirt came with that event? How's that for Karma coming full circle! It has a really cool image of the Chicago skyline, though. I still haven't cut out the neck, or done the tank-conversion on this one. Stay tuned.

Another blue Rock 'N Roll shirt...also with a cool pic on it

What do you think? Is there a future career in fashion (re)design for me? Have you ever modified a race shirt?


  1. Oooh what a great idea! I have a race shirt that's a boxy man's small but I love the design. It's in the goodwill bag, but I'm heading to dig it out as we speak!

  2. Wow, love how you transform those crew necks!! Want to try this out on a couple of my own shirts now!

  3. Do you then sew the edges so it doesn't fray? Super cool!! I am so NOT crafty!

    1. I have never sewed the edges. If it's tech fabric, it shouldn't fray much unless you pull the tape "along the edge" (instead of towards the opening) or use dull scissors (which will pull/stretch the fabric).

  4. Great idea! And great idea for the scotch tape to help with the cutting! Ill have to try this out!

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  6. Wow! It must be fun. My brother-in-law likes to participate in marathons and this year he has asked me to do the same. I have bought some nice running bare outfit for myself and will soon start working out a little. It is very important to keep oneself healthy and fine.