DIY: Banana Republic Braided Neck Tee Shirt

by Kira @ Her New Leaf on July 21, 2011

You still have until tomorrow, July 22 to enter my first blogiversary giveaway! Get your entries in!

Have you guys heard of Pinterest? Pinterest is a virtual “pinboard” that allows you to visually bookmark images from all over the internet. You can sort your images onto separate pinboards to share them with friends and other pinners. It’s really fun and has been a great way for me to organize photos for fashion and home inspiration, as well as links to all the fabulous DIY tutorials I find and want to file away for a rainy day. If you wanna check out Pinterest, you can view my boards.

A few weeks ago I came across this image on Pinterest:

“Banana Republic Braided Top DIY”

Image: via Danielle on Pinterest

I love adding new projects to my DIY pinboard so I followed the link, which led me to a blog post entitled “Banana Republic Braided Top DIY… but Fail.” Whoever pinned the photo left out the fail part – this was no tutorial, it was a FAIL-torial! So, feeling a little cocky about my t-shirt remaking skills, I quickly re-pinned the photo with the caption “I bet I could figure out how to recreate this!” What can I say, I’m kind of a jerk sometimes.

Since this was the only photo I had of the shirt, I went to the Banana Republic site to try to find the top for sale. No dice, it must’ve been a few years old. So I turned on my expert Google skills (seriously, you ever need help Googling something, ask me) and found another pic on another blog.


It was another tutorial, but again, not ideal. It involved a lot of sewing and I am lazy, so I again bet that I could find a better way. Now I’m gonna show you how to do it!

Step 1: Find a shirt you’ve clearly never worn, made obvious by the fact that the tag is still attached. Make sure it’s really wrinkly. Bonus points if it has dog hair on it.

Step 2: Cut vertical slits all around the neck. Mine were about 2 inches long and a little less than an inch apart, but they don’t need to be perfect. You should make the first slit about half as long as the rest, since the weaving technique will cause it to open up into a hole. It’s okay if you don’t, though, you can just sew it up like I did.

Here’s a few pics to show you the scale of the slits I made. They definitely weren’t perfect, but they don’t have to be!

Step 3: Here comes the technical part. Take loop #2 and push it under loop #1, then pull it through in the direction of the remaining loops. It’s not hard, but if you do it wrong, just smooth your shirt out and start over.

Step 4: Continue by pushing loop #3 through loop #2 and so on. If you ever made a potholder out of loops when you were a kid, this is the exact same thing. You did it when you were a six-year-old at summer camp, you can do it now!

Step 5: Keep going and you’ll see your braid start to form. If you don’t, undo it and start over, no big deal, I’m not judging.

When you get to the end, you’ll need to sew a few stitches to attach the last loop to the shoulder of the shirt. I also had to put a few stitches at the beginning of my braid where the hole opened up, but I told you about that already, so yours should turn out even better than mine!

At this point, you could add a second row of slits and do a second braid like on the Banana Republic shirt, but my shirt had already become pretty low-cut so I didn’t. If you want a two-braid shirt, I recommend you start with a higher-cut shirt. Or if you don’t have a problem sharing your boobies with the world, go for it, girl! Like I said, I’m not here to judge!

Step 6: Wait til your boyfriend gets home from work and pose like a doofus in the yard. Make sure your shirt is still wrinkly.

Order the boyfriend to take close-ups.

Get mad at the boyfriend for taking boob shots.

That’s how you can make your very own Banana Republic-ish shirt! Let me know if you use my tutorial, I’d love to see how your shirt turns out!

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{ 240 comments… read them below or add one }

atasteofmadess April 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Usually on these DIY things, I always think that these things are impossible for me to do, but this seems doable! Thank you!


Ann April 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Did this today. I liked the look of the neckline so much that i did the same braid down both sides under the arms. SUPER cute and oh so easy. If you’re going to do the sides, start with a shirt one size bigger than you normally wear. Thanks for an easy to follow tutorial.


Debby Lovett April 20, 2012 at 8:40 am

This looks super easy and so cute. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!


Barrysentials, The He Said She Said Wine blog April 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I will totally try it this weekend! You’re very creative! :-)


deanie April 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

I made one for my Baby Doll today. It turned out cute. I have not read all these comments, so this may be repeating, but I tried using a crochet hook about half way through… it was much easier than doing it with my fingers.


recreationsproject April 21, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Love this, and I love your funny asides too! I tried this at a recent clothes-swap fundraiser and it turned out great. I’m posting about the event now, and will link back to you for credit and tutorial.


lukeandtrish April 23, 2012 at 5:18 am

Great DIY!
The tips you give based on your own learning curve are very helpful.


ray ann April 27, 2012 at 6:29 am

Just to confirm— you began the chain at the center of the front –correct?.. could this be started in the back so as to avoid that hole you mentioned in the front causing maybe some exposure you don’t want?.. I’ll give it a try that way but just wondered if you had tried it that way and what your results were..


Kira @ Her New Leaf April 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

Hi Ray Ann, You begin the chain on one shoulder and work towards the other shoulder. If you start it at the back, there will still be a hole, it will just be on the back!


Moniek May 2, 2012 at 5:58 am

Very nice DIY! Usually during the summer holidays, I wear my old shirts and throw them away after it. Result; on my holiday pics I always wear stupid shirts! I already made one shirt look a lot better using your DIY!
Thanks from the Netherlands!


Mrs.Rod May 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Does it work with a crew neck shirt. I have an extra large plain yellow shirt that fit before I lost 70# now it is big and since I typically wear it with skirts I would like to try dressing it up a little like this. Just not one I can afford to toss if it only works with v necks. Wish I had kept another one this size to try it on.


Kira @ Her New Leaf May 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

It will definitely work with a crew neck, it just may pull a little funny. Another option may be to cut the neck a little lower before you create the braid – jersey doesn’t fray, that’s what makes it so fun to experiment with! Congrats on the weight loss, that is something to be proud of!


Ashley July 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

I did it on a crew neck shirt, but I the one I used is about two sizes too big and I cut out about three inches around the collar. I tried it first leaving the collar and the way the technique works, gathers it up quite a bit. So I undid it, then cut all the slits I had already done off, and redid it. I also did it around the cuffs of the sleeves since those were also way too big. It created a puffy sleeve. So adorable!!!


Melodee August 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Would love to see Ashley’s ..especially with the puffy sleeves…my daughter’s school shirt is way to big…wondering if this technique could work? and it is a regular tshirt..might be weird…i don’t know.


cucicucicoo May 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

this is great! i have a couple of boring t-shirts like yours and i think i’ll give it a go! thanks so much! :) lisa


Laurie May 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

You are brilliant! and quite funny too!


Nancy Winningham May 13, 2012 at 5:24 am

Love this! I notice that your T is already pleated/gathered at the top edge. Do you think this is necessary, or would a regular T work? Also, why do you think it made the top go lower? It seems to me that it would somehow shorten the shirt. Thanks for sharing – I don’t think I would have figured this out.


Kira @ Her New Leaf May 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hi Nancy! This technique will work on any shirt – if it’s not already gathered, creating a braid will gather it somewhat.


Diane I May 15, 2012 at 11:57 am

Wow well done for working that one out and such a easy to follow tutorial…will add to my list of “to dos”! Oh and I have plenty of the wrinkled t shirts but no dog hair …..I assume cat hair work just as well??? :0)
Thanks so much!


Jenn May 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I’m always amazed at how smart people are! Thanks for the idea-can’t wait to try it out.


sarah_300c May 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

You are a genius! That looks fabulous!


mogs May 17, 2012 at 3:59 am

Oh, I want to have a go at this!

Can you tell me, how much does it lower the neckline for each row of braids?


Joyce May 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm

You are freaking AWESOME!!!! I hate to sew. I really can’t sew. But T-shirts?! Luv ‘em. Off to make this one & repin with the No fail tut! :D


Dominque May 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Great step by step! I’m going to try this out, looks really simple to do! Thanks!


Shannon May 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

So cute! I did this with an old baggy workout tee — turned it into a cute yoga-type tee. I did the weaving under the chest (my t-shirt was really long) all the way around the back and make it a babydoll style. weaving looks really cute all around the collar too! :) great and EASY diy!


Jacqueline Whitney May 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I did this braid, on a way too large, man’s t-shirt years ago. I did 2 rows on the bottom and 1 row on each of the sleeves. Had many compliments on the finished product. And I used a large crochet hook which I thought was much easier then with fingers. Thanks for bringing this back to mind.


tinajd May 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Tee shirt looked great must try it out thanks


Celeste May 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thank you for the great tutorial, I just completed my version of your t-shirt makeover and shared it on my blog.


London May 26, 2012 at 8:22 am

I just did this makeover. It took me longer to get a good picture of the final product than it did to make it. I can’t wait to make a ton more! Check it out.


Megan June 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

This is SO cool!!! I absolutely love the whole boho-style, and I’m a bit obsessed with braided things. Thanks so much for this – definitely something I want to do!


Kira @ Her New Leaf June 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Thank you, Megan! Be sure to send me a photo if you do!


laura lee June 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I did this with a way too big tshirt to give to my daughter – i could have skipped doing the sleeves but wanted to try it out. I did a double layer around the neck front AND did the sides too – it is so cute and looks like rouching! I also did a single row on my favorite roller girl t-shirt because I hate how the “man” collars make me look like a box. Thanks for the idea and I’ll be doing more!


Alice June 10, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hey! I promised to link you the entry where I present the shirt I made using your tutorial! Mine was at first a t-shirt, then a top and now a cute halterneck- inspired thanks to your tutorial (:

So here it is


Vickie June 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm

This idea is SO clever! I love that it just uses one shirt. I also really love your witty remarks throughout the tutorial–it feels like I’m hanging out in your craft room while you make this. I am headed to the closet to find a shirt right now. Thanks for sharing this!


Riki June 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm

This is a great and simple tutorial. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is on my plans for the weekend.


Morgan June 19, 2012 at 8:21 am

This is great! I love pinterest but I always get frustrated when the links go no where or are spam. I’ve been wanting to do something with some of the souvenir-type shirts I have but I’m too chicken to cut them up for fear of making something I could never wear! But this I will probably try!


Chelsea June 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Too cute and completely in the realm of reality. I think I might actually do this one!



Stephanie June 22, 2012 at 10:16 am

Tried this out yesterday, and it took me less than a half hour to transform a men’s undershirt into something cute! Thank you for putting this easy but cool idea out there.

My only gripe is the holes that appear under the “braid” – I suppose with a little sewing I could secure the braid to hide those holes, but the whole point of this was to avoid sewing. :) It may also be the material I’m working with that makes these holes more prominent.


Rachael June 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm

This looks fantastic! Your tutorial/ commentary makes it though! :) Great idea~ thanks so much for sharing!


Juanita July 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

Just did mine, yay!


Lynette Ledbetter July 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

I did the same thing around each sleeve….super cute!


Jenny Larson July 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

Did it, nailed it, you saved my favorite shirt from the trashcan. I have been saving it for years, just because I couldn’t part with it, but I couldn’t wear it because it had a little hole near the collar. THANK YOU! It was just a cheap tshirt from target from many years ago, but it said Monterey on it and I got it while I lived there, so it has great memories for me. PS. I am trying it on another one from the middle and going up to the shoulders. Maybe it will make my boobs look bigger.


rowena July 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

I tried out your project and it worked great. I think i did my braid about half the size of yours and I used the crochet hook to help. I also took it all the way around the back. I’m wearing it today with cut off jeans. There are so many ways you could use this braid to customize t-shirts. Brava.


Mel July 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I have made these before and they turn out really cute! Your tutorial was much better than many I’ve seen!
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April July 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I just saw a tutorital to do the exact same thing like two days ago! here it is just so you check it out,
you totally figured it out just perfectly!!


Mrs.Rod July 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I just did it finally. Thank you.


Liz July 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Just tried it… worked out pretty well… the braid looks good. However, I struggled w/ the shoulders. I like the ruching, but they pulled the shoulder seams in rather awkwardly. Any thoughts? Did anyone else have this? Just wondering if I can fix it somehow.


Liz July 21, 2012 at 7:52 am

Hey, you’re really funny! So many tutorials out there, thanks for making this one enjoyable to read :)


lyns July 21, 2012 at 11:14 am

I have tried this like 6 times and I can’t get it right! its either too holy, or too tight making the neckline too high, or the shirt ends up way too short :(


Karen July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

VERY cool! I didn’t read through EVERY comment, but have a couple tohughts: IF you are a little OC like I tend to be, you could start in the middle and go each way toward the shoulder. The hole created at the middle may look just fine w/o sewing it, and the “braid” going each way would create a balanced visual. (JUST if you’re a little OC like me, ya know!) (-:
Another idea might be to add some thin contrast-color t-shirt strips as you “braid” it, securing them at the ends, or adding in some other fabric – beaded ribbon or something. Must try. Thanks!


alexandra July 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

i tried this and i couldn’t get my shirt over my head :/ haha. it was a tshirt with a regular crew neck and it just bunched up. should i have cut my slits a little smaller?


Megan July 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Alexandra, this happened to me, too. I think part of my problem was that the T shirt I used was kind of thick and not very stretchy, so that the braid didn’t come together as nicely as hers did. I’m not sure how hers made the neckline lower, though.
If you have a stretchier shirt I would try cutting off the original collar and making the slits longer. Alternately you could just cut it off all the way and start with the lower neckline.
I cut off just the center loop and shaped it into a semi v-neck and then braided from the front to the shoulders, and that loosened it up enough to wear. It also helped to go all the way around the shirt. But if you don’t like the way your braids look, none of those will help and I would just start over with a thinner, stretchier shirt. That’s what I’m doing.
You could give up on the braid altogether and just weave some different colors through the slits, if you want to try to salvage the original shirt.


Ashley July 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I had the same problem. I cut off the entire neck and slits that I first did on mine. So I wound up cutting off about three inches of shirt past the collar. Then I recut the slits exactly as she said to do it and it turned out perfect. I actually went all the way around the neck with the braid as well that covered the raw edges and it also prevented the pulling at the shoulders that others were talking about.


Dionne July 30, 2012 at 12:19 am

Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I did the braid down the side of an old t-shirt that needed to be revamped and it looks amazing. I love it!!! again thank you :)


Januel July 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

This is a great shirt idea! It looks so easy I’ll have to give it a try, I do have to say though that it doesnt look like the sample shirt. I thought maybe a good idea would be to do say three different smaller slits and weave through them to make them look a little like the other shirt. Might be worth giving it a try!

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Sarah August 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

Thanks so much i tried this today it did not turn out like the pictures but it is still cute. I cannot believe how easy this was!:)


Jes August 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

HAHA this cracked me up AND it’s a great tute! can’t wait to try it! Thanks!


Ariel August 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

Hey guys! I want to start from the back and go all the way around the neckline… but! Is there something I can do to help cover the middle in the front, could I make a t-shirt flower and pin it in place instead? Also, I have short, short hair and my hair won’t cover the hole in back for years, but I have no access to a sewing machine! Is there anything I can do to fix the hole in the back without it being awkward? Please help! (Email me at, please)


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