How To Make A Shirt Look Vintage – Emulating An In Era In 8 Steps


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    Wearing vintage clothing, jewelry, and shoes and emulating that old-school look has become a huge trend during the past few years and something everyone wants to achieve.

    Key Takeaways

    Vintage look or vintage feel?

    Many think replicating a vintage shirt is all a getting it to “look” right. Although fading colors and distressing the material is a part of the process, the way the shirt sit and fits on you is also important. New shirts tend to be hard and stiff, whereas a vintage shirt will be soft. You have to soften the material as well as replicate a vintage look.

    How to get the material softer?

    Using a pumice stone, rub your shirt front, back and inside out. This should take about 6-7 minutes. Then soak the shirt in fabric softener (1 cup water : 1 cup fabric softener) for an hour. Wash the shirt and then put in the drier with 5-6 tennis balls to beat down on the fabric to make it even softer.

    Quick and effective way to distressing a shirt

    The quickest and easiest way to replicating holes on clothing is to use a domestic razor blade. Locate the area on your shirt and gently scrape the material (don’t scrape too hard). The will gently cut through the fibres until a small hole will appear. Keep scraping until you get the required size hole.

    Since you can’t find vintage stuff everywhere, and even if you do, you can’t always come across the desired piece in your size, there are several ways you can create vintage pieces and make a brand new shirt look worn out.

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      If you are interested in giving a vintage look to your clothes and you want to find all the best techniques for it, then we’ve got you covered.

      When Does A Shirt Look Vintage?

      Vintage clothing and style is something that is very popular among people these days, especially among younger generations who want to achieve that cool and effortless look and have pieces no one else has.

      However, finding the right designs and clothing pieces is not that easy, especially if you are looking for a vintage T-shirt that belongs to a specific style and has specific prints or designs.

      Vintage shirts can take you back in time to your youth when life seemed a lot more simple!

      Vintage T-shirts are not something you can buy anywhere, and it is much easier to emulate a vintage look by wearing special gloves, accessories, or shoes because they seem to present the spirit of the time much better.

      These are some of the ways your new shirt can look vintage and how you can pair it up with other pieces to get that vintage look.

      Here are 6 ways on how to make a shirt look vintage, and take you back to the good old days you miss the most. Ah, nostalgia!

      1. Cuts and tears

      All T-shirts with holes and tearings will look vintage, even if you made them look like that on purpose, so if you are looking for a way to make something look like it has gone through a long aging process, then this is probably the easiest way to achieve it.

      Ripped and tearing hems will also make it look like it was worn in the last century, so work on it to get the perfect vintage piece.

      2. 1970s prints

      If you are looking for T-shirts that look like real vintage clothing, then you should definitely look up some pieces from the 70s with orange, yellow, and brown colors and hippie prints with different suns, rainbows, or smiley faces.

      These T-shirts always look vintage, even if they are brand new, mainly because these prints are associated with things people were wearing in the 70s.

      If you are looking for a quick fix and you need vintage T-shirts immediately, then the best thing you can do is buy one of these at your local retailers.

      Whatever piece of clothing you see that encapsulates some other periods in fashion will make you look vintage, and you won’t even need to age T-shirts with any other method.

      3. Faded look

      Everything that looks like its color has faded will have a vintage effect, so if you want to achieve that look, look out for pieces that have a faded color look because they will help you achieve a darker vintage effect and make you look like you’re wearing something 50 years old.

      4. Worn out look

      All T-shirts will look vintage if they look like they have already been worn several times, and nowadays, you can even buy shirts that already look like this.

      You can easily make a T-shirt or any other clothing piece look worn out if you wash it a few times and leave it out in the sun, so it loses a bit of color.

      5. Loose fit

      If you are wearing something that just doesn’t seem to be in your size and definitely looks like a piece you took from your mom or dad’s closet, then you will look quite vintage.

      The piece should look well worn for this and definitely give out some signs that others were using it before, but you don’t need to make that much effort to make it look old as its loose design will already look like you’ve got it from someone much older.

      These are some of the easiest ways to create a vintage look even if you are wearing completely new clothes, so if you want to get into

      the vintage T-shirt business, I would recommend you to follow some of the techniques we will list below.

      How Do You Make Fabric Look Old And Worn?

      Most people are looking for a distressed look when they want to make their T-shirts look vintage, and this type of look tends to be the easiest to achieve.

      Spoiler: The easiest way to accelerate the worn and faded look of a shirt is to cut holes and tear the fabric. Then add bleach in water (ratio of 1:10) and let the shirt soak for 1 hour.

      Watch this video: How To Vintage Fade A T-Shirt [03 mins 56 secs]

      To save time, skip to timeline 00:27!

      There are a few techniques you can make your T-shirt look like it has been worn a hundred times, and these are the easiest ones.

      #1 Increasing washing cycles

      Achieving the distressed material is relatively easy, and sometimes, all you need to do is wash the T-shirt several times until it starts looking worn out and losing its color.

      You will need to use an aggressive washing soda for that, and you should leave it to dry in the sun for as long as possible because it will start wrinkling.

      Sunlight always leads to fading, and once the color starts disappearing, your T-shirt will look like the latest addition from someone else’s wardrobe.

      #2 Sandpaper rubbing

      To make your T-shirt lose its finest ends and to tear up the fabric, the best thing you can do is rub the material with something harsh, like fine grit sandpaper.

      People tend to do this with the help of some kitchen tools too, but sandpaper will do the best job, and it will create simple and natural-looking holes and tears in the material.

      The best places to rub into are your elbows and hems because they will look completely natural, like a shirt you have borrowed from your dad or mom.

      You can also use a sharp razor blade if you want to make your shirts look very old and get that vintage tee you have just found in the basement look.

      #3 Chemical treatments

      There are different chemical treatments that can make your T-shirt look much older, and there are so many washing chemicals, like bleach, that can provide you with that distressed look.

      Bleach wash can make prints and colors disappear from your T-shirt, so be careful with it if you don’t want to get rid of the whole design.

      You can also put a bleach wash mixture in a spray bottle and then spray the T-shirt in different ways to get that bleached dots to look, or you can just bleach the shirt around the neck and on the hems.

      After you have treated it with bleach, you can let it stay in the sun for a while to make the damage even bigger.

      Another thing you can do is use an acetone solution and rub it over a print or certain parts of a T-shirt, and although it won’t remove the color or print, ultimately, it will make it look weathered, and the shirt will look worn out.

      #4 Use paint

      Old and vintage clothes usually have some sort of stains or marks on them, so if that is what you are looking for, you can always take a bottle of paint and splurge the color across the shirt to make it look cool.

      You can also use other colors to achieve the “dirty” look, so you can use a bit of brown or black to make it look like it has stains or yellow color, and then apply it to specific parts of the T-shirt.

      However, don’t overdo it because it may look way too fake, and if it isn’t paired up with another technique, then it doesn’t give the right aged look.

      #5 Coffee stains

      Another way to achieve that cool vintage look that will probably work much better than creating colorful stains is simply putting a few drops of coffee or tea on your T-shirt.

      Everyone struggles with this, and every T-shirt will look well worn as long as there are stains of this sort.

      Coffee beans are also a great way to fade something, and if you rub them long enough, you can bleach the print a little bit, which makes it look perfect.

      They are very acidic, and if you put the T-shirt in machine washing after it, the effect will be even better.

      #6 Lemon juice mild bleach stains

      Lemon juice is also a great way to bleach your T-shirts, and a little bit of this juice can create bleached stains on your T-shirts.

      This is the quickest way to do it, but you will probably need a lot of juice to create a real bleached stain.

      After you top it off with juice, treat it with some washing soda too, and get it into the washing machine to get the best results.

      #7 Salt & washing soda

      An old-school way to make anything look old is to combine salt and washing soda, mix it with water and fill the washing machine with it.

      Wash all the clothes you want to make look vintage with this, dry them out in the sun, and you will see that they will look way older.

      These are household ingredients everyone has at their home, and it is not a time-consuming process, so you will definitely get some results with this sort of a wash.

      Your T-shirt will also look very soft; if you repeat the process several times, you will get that perfect vintage look.

      You can also do a bit of vinegar soak because it works great to remove some patches and designs from the T-shirt, and you don’t have to go through a rinse cycle to get the desired result.

      #8 Repair stitches

      Another way to make a fabric look worn out is to add stitches or repair parts of it with by hand because it will make it look like you have worn it for years and wanted to keep it as long as possible.

      Avoid sewing machines and try to do everything by hand because just a few cool threads will make the shirt look more vintage.

      There are cool ways to repair things, and you can always add a bit of your personal touch, which will make the whole piece very unique.

      As you can see, there are several ways you can make your shirt look vintage, and they won’t take you more time than a few minutes, so if you are looking for the right vintage T-shirt, this is the way to go.

      Pay attention to the type of fabric, whether it is made of natural fibers, how stiff it is, and how it acts during the washing process because it can help you identify the best option for vintage looks.

      Also, make sure to see whether the technique you like works better with hot water or cold water if you want to get the vintage T-shirts you want, and always make sure you keep yourself protected because a pair of rubber gloves can save you from a lot of headaches.

      How To Do Sanding On A T-Shirt Without Ruining It?

      Out of all techniques, there are, sanding seems to be the one that gives people the best results and helps them create the vintage clothing they want.

      While finding fine grit sandpaper is relatively easy, handling the whole process can be tricky, especially if you weren’t using things like this before and branching out on DIY projects.

      You need to be very careful with sandpaper because if you are not paying attention, you can hurt yourself too.

      For that reason, make sure you are handling the whole process with care, and if you want, protect your hands with rubber gloves, just like you would do when working with bleach wash.

      To make sure your vintage tee will look well and won’t be ruined by sandpaper, you should probably put some sort of card paper in there, so there won’t be holes.

      Although you can do it on any sort ofT-shirt, I would recommend you to pay attention to the material and the color of the shirt, because you won’t do too much if you are distressing a white shirt, and some materials may be so thin that after one thread falls out, your whole T-shirt will start falling apart.

      However, if you are dealing with sturdy materials like denim, you will probably prefer using coarse grit sandpaper because it gives much better results and makes the process easier.

      There are also some rotary tools that can make the whole process faster and give you the desired results within seconds, but most people don’t have them at home, and you don’t really need to purchase them to get the T-shirts to look you want.

      If you don’t have the sandpaper grit at home or can’t find it in stores, you can achieve the same look with the things you have at home.

      A salad or cheese grater is a great tool that will create a distressed fabric within just a few moves, and any sort of volcanic rock you have found on the beach can be used for the same process too.

      How To Perform Bleaching On T-Shirts?

      Bleaching is a very popular technique for designing a vintage tee, and since most people have it at home, it is the easiest way to get the desired effect.

      This method works for every clothing piece, and you will get the results within seconds, so it is the best wax to achieve a vintage look.

      All you have to do is mix your washing bleach solution with 1 liter of cold water and wait for the emulsion to sink in.

      The most important thing to do when working with bleach is to protect your hands because, unlike regular detergent, bleach can ruin your hands after a second.

      To prepare your clothing piece for the process, make sure you wear your T-shirt, jeans, or whatever you are designing in hot water, especially if it is made of cotton.

      Make sure your windows are wide open because the smell is quite harsh, and you may feel sick after a while.

      The best way to get that bleachy fade is to throw your sponge into bleach and then take it over your T-shirt.

      Dip your sponge into the bleach solution several times and then blot over all the parts of the T-shirt you want to fade.

      If you want to fade out a print or design, then the best thing to do is to focus on this part of the T-shirt and put your effort into it.

      Make sure you are squeezing the excess out of your sponge because if it gets overloaded with water, there won’t is enough bleach to achieve that faded look you want.

      After a few strokes, you will see the fabric, and the color will start distressing, and you can repeat the process as many times as you can until you reach the look you like.

      If you want to get an even better result that will make the whole look way more natural, the best thing you can do is wash your T-shirt a few times after it and then leave it exposed to sunlight for a long time.


      What is the best method for achieving a vintage look depends on the type of fabric, the clothing piece you are creating, and the style you want to emulate.

      You can create a perfect shirt look, whether that is by using lemon juice, rock salt, a razor blade, or any other technique; experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you.

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