How To Modify T Shirts For Shoulder Surgery: A DIY Guide

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

Navigating daily tasks after shoulder surgery can be challenging, but you can make life easier with a little creativity and some DIY ingenuity. In this DIY guide, we’ll show you how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery. 

Whether you’re undergoing surgery or lending a helping hand to a loved one, these step-by-step instructions will walk you through the process of adapting t-shirts for comfort and convenience during recovery. Let’s embark on this journey of practical and thoughtful customization.

How To Modify T Shirts For Shoulder Surgery

Before we begin, let’s gather the materials you’ll need:

  • T-shirts (preferably six or more, depending on your needs)
  • Electric scissors
  • Bias tape
  • Snaps and snap-setting tool
  • Sewing machine (or a needle and thread if you prefer hand-sewing)

Step 1: Cutting the Shoulder

The first step in modifying the t-shirts is to cut the shoulder area on the side of the surgery. Cut from the collar down to the desired opening point using your electric scissors. This allows easy access to the affected shoulder.

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

Step 2: Removing the Collar

Next, remove the collar from the t-shirt. Cut it off using your scissors. This step ensures that the collar doesn’t cause discomfort during recovery.

Step 3: Serging and Adding Snaps

Now, it’s time to give your modified t-shirt a clean finish. Use a serger to go around the open shoulder area. Serging prevents fraying and adds durability to the edges. 

After serging, it’s time to add snaps for easy closure and access to the affected shoulder. Here’s how:

  • Place bias tape along the open shoulder edge and fold the ends to prevent fraying.
  • Sew the bias tape securely, ensuring it can hold the snaps.
  • Measure the positions for the snaps and use tape to hold them in place.
  • Sew the snaps in position, ensuring they align with the corresponding side of the bias tape.
  • Repeat this process for all the snaps you want to add.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully modified your t-shirts to accommodate shoulder surgery recovery. The snaps allow easy access to the shoulder area, making it convenient for the wearer to put on and remove the t-shirt.

How To Sew A Shoulder-Shaped T-Shirt

Materials you’ll need:

  • An existing T-shirt
  • Fabric suitable for the modification
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Measure and Plan

Begin by measuring the wearer’s shoulder and arm to determine the size and shape of the modification needed.

Take careful measurements to ensure a comfortable fit without causing any discomfort to the recovering shoulder.

Plan the modifications, including creating an open shoulder or adding snaps for easy dressing.

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

Step 2: Sew the Modification

Cut the fabric according to your measurements and plan. Be precise in your cutting to ensure a neat and comfortable fit.

Sew the modified section onto the T-shirt. Using a sewing machine, use a suitable stitch for stretchy fabric to ensure durability.

Make sure the modification is secure and there are no rough edges that could irritate the skin.

Things To Keep In Mind When Making Your Modification

When making modifications to a T-shirt for shoulder surgery patients, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Comfort Is Key: The primary goal is to enhance comfort for the wearer. Ensure the modified area does not cause discomfort, rubbing, or irritation on the recovering shoulder.
  • Measure Accurately: Take precise measurements of the shoulder and arm to create a perfect modification. Incorrect measurements can lead to an uncomfortable fit.
  • Use Suitable Fabric: Choose soft, breathable, and comfortable fabric against the skin. Stretchy fabric is often a good choice as it allows for ease of movement.
  • Sturdy Sewing: Use a sewing machine or strong hand stitching to ensure the modification is secure and long-lasting. Reinforce the seams to prevent fraying.
  • Accessibility: If the goal is to make dressing easier, consider adding features like snaps, Velcro, or other fasteners that allow for simple opening and closing of the modified area.
  • Style and Aesthetics: While functionality is crucial, don’t forget about style. Try to modify and blend seamlessly with the original T-shirt’s design.
  • Consult the Wearer: If possible, involve the person recovering from shoulder surgery in the design process. Their input can help ensure the modification meets their specific needs and preferences.
  • Test and Adjust: Before finalizing the modification, have the wearer try on the T-shirt and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable fit.

By considering these considerations, you can create a shoulder-shaped T-shirt modification that provides both comfort and practicality for shoulder surgery patients. 

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

What Kind of Shirt to Wear After Shoulder Surgery?

Choosing the right shirt after shoulder surgery is crucial for comfort and convenience during recovery. Your choice of clothing can significantly impact your overall well-being and ease of daily activities. 

Here are some key considerations when selecting the ideal shirt for post-shoulder surgery:

Front-Closure Shirts

Front-closure shirts, such as those with buttons or snaps down the front, are highly recommended. 

These shirts allow you to put them on and take them off without raising your arms. This is especially beneficial during the initial stages of recovery, when shoulder mobility may be limited. Front closures minimize the strain on your healing shoulder.

Wide Neck Openings

Look for shirts with wide neck openings. A wider neck makes sliding the shirt over your head easier without excessive shoulder movement. This feature simplifies the dressing process and reduces the risk of discomfort or injury.

Loose and Comfortable Fit

Opt for loose-fitting shirts that provide ample room for your shoulder and arm. A comfortable fit ensures the fabric doesn’t rub against or compress the surgical area, promoting better healing and minimizing irritation.

Soft and Breathable Fabrics

Choose shirts made from soft and breathable fabrics like cotton or jersey. These materials are gentle on the skin and allow proper ventilation, preventing excessive sweating or skin irritation, which can be common post-surgery.

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

Sleeve Length Options

Consider shirts with various sleeve lengths, such as short or three-quarter sleeves. Having options allows you to choose a sleeve length that accommodates bandages, casts, or any post-operative dressing without causing discomfort.

Slip-On Styles

Slip-on styles, like stretchy t-shirts or loose-fitting button-down shirts, can be convenient. These shirts are easier to wear and take off without intricate arm movements.

Adaptive Clothing

Explore adaptive clothing brands specializing in designing garments for individuals with limited mobility. These brands offer a range of clothing options tailored to specific needs, including post-shoulder surgery recovery.

Dressing Aids

Consider using dressing aids like reachers or dressing sticks to assist in putting on and removing shirts. These tools can provide valuable support, especially if you have limited arm mobility during the early stages of recovery.

Selecting the right shirt for post-shoulder surgery is vital in ensuring a smoother and more comfortable recovery process. Prioritize comfort, ease of use, and adherence to medical recommendations to promote optimal healing and well-being during your recovery journey.

Tips For Changing Shirt After Shoulder Surgery

Undergoing shoulder surgery can bring temporary challenges regarding daily tasks, including something as routine as changing your shirt. To make this process more manageable and comfortable during your recovery, consider these helpful tips:

Choose Front Closure Shirts

Front-closure shirts, such as button-up shirts or zip-up jackets, are ideal because they allow you to dress without raising your arms overhead. This reduces strain on your healing shoulder.

how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

Start with Your Unaffected Arm

When putting on a shirt, begin with your unaffected arm. Slide it through the sleeve or open it first. This approach minimizes movement and discomfort in your recovering shoulder.

Seek Assistance When Needed

Don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially during the early stages of recovery. A family member, friend, or caregiver can assist you in changing shirts, ensuring your safety and comfort.

Practice and Patience

Practice changing shirts during moments when you’re not rushed or in pain. Repeated practice builds confidence and allows you to refine your technique. Be patient with yourself, and avoid rushing the process to prevent unnecessary strain.

Adaptive Clothing Options

Consider using adaptive clothing designed for post-surgery needs. These garments often feature magnetic closures, wide openings, and other helpful design elements that make changing shirts easier and more comfortable.

By following these tips, you can simplify the process of changing shirts after shoulder surgery and promote a smoother and more comfortable recovery.


How Do You Get A Shirt On After Shoulder Surgery?

After shoulder surgery, choosing shirts with front closures like buttons or zippers for easy dressing is essential. 

  • Start by putting your unaffected arm through the sleeve.
  • Carefully slide your recovering arm into the sleeve or through the modified opening.
  • Gently fasten the front closure, avoiding sudden or excessive movements that could strain your shoulder.
how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery

What Kind Of Shirt Do You Wear With A Sling?

Opt for oversized, loose-fitting T-shirts or button-up shirts when wearing a sling after shoulder surgery.

The roomy design accommodates the sling without causing discomfort. Ensure the shirt’s fabric is gentle against your skin to prevent irritation.

What Is The Easiest Shirt To Wear After Shoulder Surgery?

The easiest shirt to wear after shoulder surgery is one with a front closure, such as a button-up shirt or a zip-up hoodie.

These shirts allow you to put them on and remove them without raising your arms, reducing strain on your healing shoulder.

What Can I Wear Instead Of A Bra After Shoulder Surgery?

After shoulder surgery, traditional bras with straps can be uncomfortable. Consider wearing a soft, front-closure bralette or a sports bra. These options minimize pressure on your shoulder and provide support without the need for overhead arm movements.

Remember to prioritize comfort and ease of use when selecting clothing during your shoulder surgery recovery.


In this DIY guide, we’ve shown you how to modify t shirts for shoulder surgery. These modifications make the recovery process more comfortable and manageable. Whether undergoing surgery or helping a loved one, this DIY project can be valuable to the recovery journey.

Safety is paramount during surgery recovery, so consult a healthcare professional for specific guidance regarding dressing and mobility. We hope this guide makes the recovery process easier and more comfortable.

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