Loot Crate’s newest crate is filled to the brim with “mechanical memorabilia” (yes, I 100% lifted that from the e-mail because it’s so accurately well worded!), giving fans of cyber creations from fandoms all across the grid something to 0110001101101000011001010110010101110010 about. Looters opened the epically large crate to find an assortment of goodies, including a terminator head replica (and yes, we all made the “to be or not to be” joke), Borderlands mouse-pad, target range practice in the shape of a Cylon, a cool circuit board pouch, and a Tron/Transformers t-shirt.

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Choosing this month’s hack took me a little deliberation. I desperately needed a new mouse-pad, so that was off the cutting board, and the Cylon posters were soon to be pierced with arrows during an archery session. It was almost a jewelry holder topper with the Terminator head–I mean, that sounds hilarious and I really could use a place to store my necklaces–but finally I decided that hacking and slashing this month’s crossover tee would be my most prudent decision. Summertime heat dictates a need for cool clothes, and a black t-shirt doesn’t really comply. Besides, I generally have a bad relationship with t-shirts. Cut ’em all up, I say.

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Hacking and slashing t-shirts is a common practice nowadays, with multiple books, pinterest boards, and websites dedicated to explaining the art of cutting the collar off your t-shirt for a cuter look. That’s nice. Let’s make it nerdier. My Tron/Transformers mashup t-shirt needed a bit of a makeover–well, really, it needed to channel the grid lifestyle a little more. This hack combines a couple of basic hack and slash t-shirt techniques and creates a whole new design: an Identity Disc!

And now here’s a tutorial filled with tips for avoiding all the mistakes I made while making my shirt!

The requirements for this month’s hack are simple: the T-shirt you’re going to be hacking, a pair of scissors, a white crayon/chalk/marking pencil, and a ruler. This hack works best with a fitted shirt, since it requires a bit of rigidity to show off the design. If your shirt arrived and was too baggy, I’ve included links to a few alternative tutorials that can help make your shirt wearable at the bottom of this page!

Hacking the Shirt

I decided that I wanted some Tron-esque cut-outs on the front and sleeves of the shirt as well, so I started by laying the shirt flat on my cutting board and marking out where I wanted the designs to go.

tshirt diagramTo create the strappy look, we’re going to cut out a semi-circle shape from the sleeves. For this part, we will be cutting through both layers of folded sleeve. Leave about an inch of material below the seam, and a half inch above the hem on the edge of the sleeve.

For the cutouts on the front of the tee, it’s easiest to mark where you want them to fall while wearing the shirt. You can eyeball it if you prefer, but it’s definitely helpful to draw it out before you begin cutting. I drew out my first triangle shape, cut it out, and traced the piece I removed from the shirt to measure an exact copy on the other side.  Make sure you only cut through the front of the t-shirt!

DIYing t-shirts involves lots of trying on and making sure you’re happy with the results throughout the process, so try it after every new addition and make adjustments accordingly. The t-shirt on the table looks completely different once on!

Tips For First-Timers

  • Cut carefully! There’s really no going back if you miscut
  • Make sure you insert something between the front and back layers to avoid cutting through both at the same time–that could be disastrous!
  • neck-AWhen cutting the collar off, make sure not to cut too wide. If you cut too much off around your neck, the shirt’s not going to stay on your shoulders. If you want thinner straps, cut more off around the armholes!
  • Start with smaller cuts, especially if you’re not sure how the fabrics behaves. T-shirt material tends to stretch out, so a small cut can go a long way!

Creating the Identity Disc Design

I happened to have an Identity Disc lying around, so I used that to measure my own replica across the back. Here’s where you want to separate the front and back of the t-shirt so now accidental snipping occurs–I used an old Loot Crate box to create a work surface.

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This is how I should have cut the piece originally.
This is how I should have cut the piece originally.

The design above is the one I cut out. But I don’t recommend you use the same. I underestimated the rigidity of the fabric the first time around, and my fitting left a sagging back with no discernible shape to it. I fixed it by adding little bridges along my light lines, but that can be avoided altogether by cutting the lines into smaller sections. Instead of one long piece, cut out three smaller sections. It’ll save you the hassle of going back and reinforcing the section with fabric strips later. Use a razorblade or your scissors to carefully cut along your lines.

If you want, make the lines even thinner than mine, since the material will stretch anyways. A single slash instead of the outlined shape, for example, will give you a smaller peephole.

Once your center is cut out, we need to create the outer circle. Again, trace your design with your chalk/pencil/crayon so you know where to cut, and keep the designs well spaced out and on the thinner side. Don’t worry if some lines look a little jagged when the shirt is on the cutting table; these t’s take on a whole new personality when they meet your body.

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As you can see, I originally cut out two solid shapes along the side of my center circle and had to go back and reinforce it because of how much it sagged. Luckily, there are lots of options (and scraps!) for mistakes like mine, so there’s usually a fix for accidents. I cut two scraps and used some Unique Stitch to glue it all together as a quick fix, and it’s held up perfectly so far. You can also add a little fusible interfacing to the very center to give it some firmness, too.

Once your outer circle is painstakingly cut out, that’s it! Pop that tee on, grab your identity disc, and hop on your light cycle, ready to face anything–except sun. Probably grab some sunscreen too, unless you’re into identity disc tans marking your summer adventures.
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Need some more ideas for altering your t-shirts? Buzzfeed compiled a list of 31 different hacks, and most of them link directly to tutorials, so go nuts! I’ve already made a backless braided top from an extremely large “If Daryl Dies We Riot” shirt, and it’s awesome. There’s also a great tutorial on turning a tee into a workout tank or a whole slew of complete transformation projects. Basically, you’ve got options.


HOW LOOT CRATE HACKS WORKS

basic ground rules for each month’s hack: I want my crafted hack to be as widely accessible as possible. I know that everyone does not have two rooms full of crafting supplies at their disposal, as I do, so the intent is to create something using as few and as common supplies as I possibly can. That doesn’t mean I won’t try and do some crazy specialized things if the motivation hits, but there will always be a version that can be easily and cheaply replicated.

This project is done entirely for fun. I have no affiliation with Loot Crate, just a love for their nerdy boxes and the cool stuff that comes inside each month. I appreciate the inspiration that their themes and items allow, as well as the opportunity to play with things I would never otherwise purchase for myself.

Writer. Cosplayer. Binge Netflix Watcher. Anime Dweeb. Book Enthusiast. Harbours inappropriately strong feelings about Shakespeare and William Blake. Once lost a whole day theorizing about Game of Thrones. The most motivated procrastinator she knows. Sometimes it works out in her favor. Mostly just causes widespread panic. It's all good though, because she never forgets her towel.

2 thoughts on “Hacking the Grid: Loot Crate Hacks {June 2015 Cyber Edition}

  1. sweet. i need to do something like this with my Tina Belcher shirt 🙂 She is sad just being on a regular shirt.

    Love the loot crate hacks! <3

    1. Sounds like there’s a t-shirt hack’n’slash craft day in the near future!! Regular shirts can sometimes be great but mostly they’re a little boring. There are just so many fun mods for t-shirts now a days!

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