How to Make a Shoulder Sling From a T-shirt

Patient being attended to by paramedic nurse for injured arm

Slings are used to immobilize injured arms. They are usually used in cases of a broken or dislocated arm or shoulder. Anyone with an injury should seek professional medical help as soon as possible. However, if an injury occurs in an area where medical help is not immediately available, a temporary sling can be used until the injured individual is able to visit a medical facility.

Lay the T-shirt out on a flat surface. Use scissors to cut a seam up the side of the T-shirt. The seam should stretch from the lower hem of the shirt up through the underarm and armhole on one side of the shirt. If scissors are not available, the shirt can be cut carefully using a knife or ripped along this side panel.

Unfold the shirt to form a rough rectangle. The shirt will not be exactly rectangular due to the neck and armholes. To create a sling for and adult, you will need a rectangle that is 5 feet wide and 3 feet long. To create a sling for a child, you can use a smaller piece of fabric.

Cut diagonally across this rough rectangle to form a triangle. If scissors are not available, you can also form a triangle by folding the fabric across diagonally.

Place the injured individual's arm in the sling, with the short point of the triangle at her elbow and the wrist in the middle of the long straight-edge of the triangle.

Fold the two long points of the triangle up so that the inner half of the sling (against the chest) goes around the shoulder and neck opposite the injured arm. Bring the other half of the sling up over the arm and tie it to the other triangle point at the side of the neck closest to the injured arm. The injured arm should be at rest with the elbow bent at a right angle.


Any piece of fabric that is approximate 5 feet by 3 feet can be used to craft a sling. In addition to shirts, a coat can also be used. If such a length of fabric is not available, a belt, rope or sturdy vine can also be used to make a temporary sling.