To me, Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (1994) is the ultimate coming-of-age film. As much credit as it gets for its cinematography, the styling deserves credit, too. The main character, Troy, and her ’70s wardrobe remind me how essential tie-up halter tops are for hot weather:

Zelda Harris as Troy in Crooklyn.

Zelda Harris as Troy in Crooklyn.

In this DIY, I’m going to show you how you can make your own Crooklyn–inspired, summer-ready halter top out of an old T-shirt.

What you’ll need:

Crooklyn Halter1

  • Measuring tape or a ruler
  • Paper (for the pattern)
  • A marker or pen
  • Scissors
  • A T-shirt
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pins
  • A sewing machine or needle and thread

How to do it:

To start, you’re going to make the halter top’s pattern. In Steps One through Four, I’ll break down how to do that. It helps to know what you’re aiming for before you get started, though, so here’s a photo of what the pattern will look like when it’s done:


OK, let’s go!

Step One


Using your measuring tape or ruler, measure your torso, starting at the center of your neckline and ending wherever on your abdomen you want your halter top’s bottom hem to reach. (I made my bottom hemline 11 inches down from my center neckline.) Lay your paper on a flat surface, and measure the same length, making a mark for the center neckline (A) and a mark for the center of the bottom hem (B).

Step Two


With the measuring tape or ruler, measure the width of the front of your neck. Divide that measurement by four. Starting at A and moving to the left, measure the resulting length in a straight line, then make a new mark in that spot (C).

Step Three


Divide the length from A to B by four. (For my pattern, that meant dividing 11 by four.) Starting at C and moving downward and to the left, measure a diagonal line that is the resulting length, and make a new mark at its end (D).

Step Four

This is the same photo I showed you before as an example of what your pattern will look like. Hopefully your pattern DOES look like this now!

This is the same photo I showed you before as an example of what your pattern would look like when it was finished. Hopefully your pattern DOES look like this now!

Starting from D, measure a straight line downward that ends at the point where it lines up with B; make a mark there, which will be E. Draw straight lines connecting A to B, B to E, E to D, D to C, and C to A:


Now you’ve got a pattern!

Step Five


Cut out your pattern. Give it a name and label it, if you want!

Step Six


Fold your T-shirt in half so that the front is the side that faces out, then lay it on your work surface. Place the pattern over the shirt, in a spot that is below the collar line and that shows off the T-shirt’s logo or artwork.

Step Seven


Cut all the way around the pattern, through both sides of the T-shirt.

Step Eight


Unfold the shape you cut out! You’ll have two pieces, but you only need one. Lay that piece out flat (and save the second piece to make another halter top later, if you want to!). Now take the folded T-shirt that’s left over and lay it out flat, like so:


Step Nine


Cut two one-inch strips of fabric from the folded T-shirt. They end up being rings of fabric (like really thin infinity scarves).

Step Ten


Cut open both of the fabric rings.

Step Eleven


Fold over the top of your halter top an inch, and pin the fold down with straight pins. Fold over the bottom of your halter an inch, and pin that down, too. The folds will be tunnels for your halter top’s straps to slide through.

Step Twelve


Stitch a straight line over each tunnel, about three-quarters of an inch from the fold. This is what the top will look like after you’re done stitching:


You’re getting close to finishing this halter top, I promise!

Step Thirteen


Attach a safety pin to both of your fabric strips. Use the safety pin to scrunch each fabric strip through a tunnel in the halter top, like this:


Ta-da! Hard work pays off!


Tie yourself into this beaut, and you’ll be ready to beat the heat. ♦