Baffling holes in my shirt making me nuts.
April 8, 2011 8:56 PM   Subscribe

What is causing the tiny holes on the bottom front of all my shirts? (this was asked in 2006, but maybe new info has become available on holey shirts).

Almost every soft, t-shirt type shirt I own ends up rather quickly with small holes on the bottom front, underneath the belly button. The holes ONLY occur in this area. I have discovered other people (women mostly!) seem to have this issue. I wear different pants, I do not rub up against rough countertops, I am not heavy. These are shirts I wash in my washing machine. This sounds completely crazy, but I have to figure it out because I am tired of having my shirts ruined.
posted by cherrybounce to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (40 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Cat on lap?
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:57 PM on April 8, 2011

It's your belt. Ok, well, it was my belt when this happened to me. Ruined about 20 shirts before I figured it out. Duh.
posted by madred at 8:59 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

It seems to be related to quality. I've noticed American Apparel tops lasting much longer before developing these holes than tops from Old Navy or the like.
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:00 PM on April 8, 2011

Seconding belt. Drove me nuts until I caught the motherfucker in the act.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:02 PM on April 8, 2011

Note: not necessarily the belt. The holes in my shirts precede any belt wearing. Could it be from laundry detergent? Why does it only effect shirts and not similarly made dresses?
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:03 PM on April 8, 2011

I don't wear a belt, and it happens to me too. I think in my case it is the corner of the top of the fly of my jeans, in combination with the... let us be charitable and say, delicacy of the jersey from which lots of women's tees are made.
posted by redfoxtail at 9:04 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am compulsively reading an old askme thread. Here's an idea.
posted by artychoke at 9:06 PM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

That was going to be my suggestion, artychoke.
posted by Duffington at 9:10 PM on April 8, 2011

2nding artychoke - my husband used to get these holes in all his casual shirts. I told him to man up and open his beer with his bare hand like me. This also explains why it doesn't happen to dresses.
posted by heybearica at 9:11 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have had this problem for ages and couldn't figure it out. Last year it finally dawned on me that I lean on the counter in the kitchen and my t-shirt rubs between the counter and my belt buckle creating tiny holes. I now tuck my shirt in while in the kitchen and have not ruined a shirt since!
posted by sadtomato at 9:13 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I GET THIS TOO. Very mysterious. I suspect in my case it might be related to the button on my jeans??
posted by hansbrough at 9:15 PM on April 8, 2011

I believe it to be the button of my jeans. It's also caused me to noticed that I tend to lean on the lab bench in about that spot, oops.
posted by maryr at 9:16 PM on April 8, 2011

oh yeah... I forgot about the beer caps. hehe. i was in no shape to remember them. they may or may not have contributed to the problem.
posted by madred at 9:34 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

this is the part of the shirt that is most likely to rub or make contact with your pants in the most repeated way

try wearing shirts without pants or underwear for several months, i bet the holes will not develop
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:35 PM on April 8, 2011 [10 favorites]

Do you lift weights?

Dumbells coming together while you lean over made dozens of holes in my t-shirts this way for years before I figured it out.
posted by sanka at 9:54 PM on April 8, 2011

The edges of the zipper pull tab, or the zipper slider itself?
posted by oflinkey at 9:57 PM on April 8, 2011

I used to get my t-shirts caught in my zipper and it would make holes.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:58 PM on April 8, 2011

Where do you grab the shirt when you get undressed? I sometimes get holes near the side seams of my shirts because I tend to dig my thumb into the fabric when I take them off.
posted by embrangled at 10:10 PM on April 8, 2011

I sometimes get holes near the side seams of my shirts because I tend to dig my thumb into the fabric when I take them off.

When I take off t-shirts I've noticed my thumb eventually makes a tiny hole at the front below the collar. So personally I can see how one takes a shirt on and off can eventually make a tiny hole.
posted by bobo123 at 10:48 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another consideration: when untucking your shirts, do you open your fly and hitch down your pants before removing the shirt, or simply grab the front of the shirt and yank upwards? The latter technique can stretch out the weave of the shirt's fabric, especially if it's performed as a daily routine.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:37 PM on April 8, 2011

Belts for sure, at least for me.
posted by pised at 12:19 AM on April 9, 2011

I also get these, and I also think it's bottlecaps.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:03 AM on April 9, 2011

I've been getting these too. I was puzzled until I worked out that the t shirt was getting caught in the zip of the couple of zip up tops that I wear.
posted by dmt at 2:33 AM on April 9, 2011

Response by poster: I don't wear belts. The shirts are from various stores, alot from J. Crew. I don't use my shirts to open beer! (I'm a woman, for God's sake, although I realize that doesn't preclude me from using my shirt to open beer bottles). My countertops are smooth edged. I wear these shirts with various types of pants, usually jeans though, but different jeans. It doesn't seem that my shirts are getting caught in my zippers. But I do appreciate the answers.

All I know is if you google this, you will see that this is apparently a mysterious world wide phenomenon.
posted by cherrybounce at 3:39 AM on April 9, 2011

This happens to both me (non-belt-wearing female) and my boyfriend (belt-wearer). I've been able to rule out many suspects as my circumstances have changed over the years: it's not from clothes pins, cigarette ashes, cats, leaning on the counter while washing dishes.

My only theory that hasn't been disproven is the holes are caused by rubbing against the fly of my pants (either zipper or button).
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 3:50 AM on April 9, 2011

Ooh, a mystery. I'll get the van and you bring the anthropomorphic dog!

Is there any chance that, when you're driving, the lap strap of your seat belt is rubbing your shirt against the harsher denim of your jeans? The edge of your fly, as suggested by others, sounds like a good culprit.
posted by Georgina at 4:10 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just FYI, I'm a woman and I daintily open bottlecaps with my blouses all the time. I usually have fingernail polish on while doing it. And my manners are pretty good; it's usually for some weak-ass dude that I'm opening the bottle in the first place.
posted by madred at 4:20 AM on April 9, 2011 [8 favorites]

One other possibility: many people use the bottom of their T-shirt to clean their glasses.
posted by yclipse at 4:33 AM on April 9, 2011

When you wear jeans is the top of the waist band totally flat against your stomach or does the corner of the fly above the button curve out ever so slightly? This can cause friction wear leaving holes.
posted by saradarlin at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2011

I always assumed it was my coarse belly hair, as I don't open bottles or wear belts. I'm sure that's not the ladies situation, here though
posted by Redhush at 8:51 AM on April 9, 2011

The edges of the zipper pull tab, or the zipper slider itself?
posted by oflinkey at 12:57 AM on April 9 [+] [!]

This is what causes mine. The edge of the zipper pull tab is pretty sharp. My untucked shirt gets bunched up when I'm sitting or leaning against a counter & when I turn to move it snags there.
posted by yoga at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2011

I posted the 2006 question you refer to (I asked the admins to change it to "anonymous" after years of being emailed by strangers about it, some of them quite angry and apparently convinced I was hiding secret info).

The holes no longer show up in my shirts. I still wear the same sort of clothing; what has changed is my girth and my kitchen counters (I cook, so spent a great deal of time pressing against them). I lost a bit of weight and moved house. I don't know which of these factors was more important. In my case I suspect it was losing the girth; my shirts are no longer pulled as tightly around my hips, so the fabric is less stressed.

My theory is that thin cotton just wants to rip, and regardless of your body type, the center front of a shirt is where the most friction action happens. Countertops, seat belts, bellies, belt buckles, zippers, buttons, the top edge of pants, and the pokey corner of the fly all happen in this same zone, so that's where the hole shows up. There's probably a next-most-common spot for holes to show up, but most people ditch the shirt (or turn it into a work shirt/rag) after the first holes show up in the center front.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:02 AM on April 9, 2011

Your counter tops don't have to be rough. Things everywhere are placed at this height for leaning and for working. When you use them in either of these fashions this is the part of your body that makes contact with the surfaces in the same way that the asses of jeans wear out faster because you sit on them.
posted by cmoj at 10:50 AM on April 9, 2011

I have noticed this as well (especially on my beloved tissue thing t-shirts from J.Crew) and I typically do not wear belts, however, I did notice that the area that seems to always have holes appears is also the area that rubs against the edge of my jeans when I am riding in a car with my seatbelt on, and subsequently gets a TON of friction from being sandwiched between the seatbelt and jeans. I've made a more conscious effort to pull my shirt out from over my jeans if I'm going to be in the car for a long ride.
posted by banannafish at 11:09 AM on April 9, 2011

This used to happen to my sweaters. It turned out to be from a particular metal banded watch that I was wearing. It would catch on the sweater I guess or rub it ever so slightly and cause them to snag and fray. I never noticed it happen. However, The problem went away when I got a new watch.
posted by Gadgetie at 1:32 PM on April 9, 2011

Seat belt+friction?
posted by shesaysgo at 3:13 PM on April 9, 2011

Do you carry a shoulder bag, messenger bag, or purse? Wear a badge on a lanyard? Wear a jacket or coat with hardware in this area? Wear a waistpack? A seatbelt? Have a pull-out keyboard drawer?

The thing to do is to wear a tiny camera around your neck, pointing down at your stomach.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:58 PM on April 9, 2011

This happens to all the girls at my work and we instigated an investigation. Turns out? All the girls were shorter and so leaned against the counter ALL the time.

Once they noticed that and stopped leaning against the counters to reach across them, the holes stopped.
posted by OrangeDrink at 9:56 PM on April 9, 2011

I get them all the time, for me it's the zipper teeth.
I also get a single, tiny hole on the back of my shirts up near my shoulder blade... no idea what that's from.
posted by simplethings at 11:26 PM on April 9, 2011

Me, my sister and bro-in-law all have this issue... my theory is seat-belts in cars and taxis - and planes I suppose - as others said.
posted by evil_esto at 12:18 AM on April 10, 2011

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