How to Make a T-Shirt Look Like a Zombie Costume

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You can make a t-shirt look like a zombie costume.
Image Credit: shironosov/iStock/GettyImages

A T-shirt is the perfect starting material for a DIY zombie costume, as you probably have an old old one lying around anyway. Rips, stretches and stains are all that's needed to give it that classic zombie clothing look for a Halloween party. The goal is to make that T-shirt look as old, worn and grungy as possible, no sewing skills required.


Picking the perfect zombie T-shirt

Look through your closet for an old, practically threadbare shirt you almost never wear, or one that's full of stains or even paint splatter from another DIY project. If you don't have a T-shirt you're willing to sacrifice, a trip to a thrift store offers opportunities galore. Pick one that already looks a bit worn or otherwise imperfect to enhance the aged look; or just pick one that's a bit too big and not brand new. A long-sleeved or short-sleeved T-shirt will do. If your Halloween party is outdoors or you plan to wear the zombie costume outside, long sleeves will keep you a bit warmer on a cool night.


Video of the Day

Halloween zombified T-shirt tutorial

Since the average undead being spends a lot of time wearing the same clothes, the zombie style T-shirt should look like it's been buried for years. Stretch out the neckline as much as possible by pulling on it. If you have a dog that likes to play tug-of-war, get her to grab one end as you tug on the other; if she rips holes in the T-shirt during the process, even better. Repeat the process with the sleeves and other areas of the shirt.


Poke holes through other areas of the T-shirt using the tip of a utility knife, craft knife or even a nail. Wiggle the tool around to make the holes wider, then push your fingers through and make more rips by tugging the holes outwards. Use scissors to make small snips in random areas along the holes, then tug at the fabric tabs you've made to make them larger. Rip or snip part of the collar, sleeve and bottom hems, then tear along the hemline so part of the T-shirt fabric hangs off. If you have a stiff wire brush, a rasp or similar sharp tool, drag it across one area of the shirt to add monster-style scratches to your Halloween costume.


Put the T-shirt on from time to time to see if it needs any more rips, holes and stretches for that perfect zombie look. Feel free to cut off a corner of the shirt near the bottom, or part of a sleeve on a long-sleeved shirt, to make it look even more worn. Just be sure to fray the cut edges so the shirt looks aged rather than freshly cut.


Fake blood and stains

No zombie costume is complete without fake blood stains and splatter, and lots of dirt. Either purchase fake blood and splatter it around certain areas, or make your own from food coloring and just a little water. Rub the chosen fake blood material into the shirt in various areas, such as around large holes and the neckline. A paintbrush comes in handy for splatter, and for applying the fake blood exactly where you'd like it.


Soak parts of the shirt in some strong black tea water, using tea bags and just a little water. Let the tea bags soak until the liquid is dark brown, then allow the shirt to sit in it for at least an hour before letting it air dry. If this is a last-minute project and you don't have enough time, try rubbing coffee grounds on the shirt, or rub it in the grass and dirt or over something greasy in the garage, such as a bike chain. Once you're happy with your own zombie costume, put it on, then paint your face and exposed areas of your arms with your favorite zombie makeup.



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