How to Alter a Shirt

Two Methods:Fitting a Button-Down ShirtAltering a T-Shirt to a Smaller Size

Shirts that are too large can be unflattering. If you have a button-down shirt or t-shirt that doesn’t fit correctly, follow these instructions to alter your t-shirt to a smaller size. You will need a sewing machine and basic sewing skills to achieve a professional looking alteration.

Method 1
Fitting a Button-Down Shirt

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    Locate a button down shirt that is too baggy. Ideally, it should fit well in the shoulders, but be too big in the body and arms. The shoulders cannot be easily altered for a better fit.
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    Turn the shirt inside out. Button the shirt up all the way. This will be difficult while it is inside out, so you can do it before turning it around, if it is large enough to fit over your head.
    • If you usually wear button down shirts with undershirts, you should put an undershirt on when doing this.
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    Find some straight pins and ask a friend to help you with the next few steps.
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    Pinch in the side of the shirt, starting just under the armpit. Pin the area where the sides of the shirt meet with the pin facing downward vertically. [1]
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    Ask your friend to pinch and pin down the entire side of the body. Measure the amount that you have pinched in. Generally, you want to keep it to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) or less, to avoid problems with pockets moving too far to the side. [2]
    • With men’s shirts, you should avoid darting in at the waist during fitting. With women’s shirts, you can pin an extra half inch (1.27 cm) at the waist to create a more fitted look.
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    Repeat the process on the other side of the body. After you pinch and pin the top of the body, measure it to ensure it matches the measurement on the opposite side. You want to alter it equally on both sides.
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    Pinch and pin the bottom of the arms from the armpit seam to your forearms, where it begins to taper. If the arm width fine, you can skip this step. Measure to ensure you are taking approximately the same amount off of each side.
    • Pin horizontally, with the pin tips facing toward the arm cuff.
    • Move around, sit down and move your arms to ensure you have enough space for movement in the shirt.
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    Unbutton the shirt and take it off.
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    Prepare your sewing machine. Make sure your thread matches the shirt material.
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    Sew the pinched pieces of fabric together from the armpit to the bottom hem, following the line of the pins. Make sure you allow the seam to go inward at the waist if you are hemming a woman’s shirt.
    • Use a close stitch and back stitch and the top and bottom.
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    Repeat on the opposite side and on the arms.
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    Turn the shirt right side out. Try it on to ensure a good fit. Make sure to sit down and move your arms up and down.
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    Cut the excess fabric off approximately 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) after the seam. Use sharp fabric scissors.

Method 2
Altering a T-Shirt to a Smaller Size

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    Find a large, baggy t-shirt.
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    Find a t-shirt that fits well. You will use this as a template. Turn it inside out.
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    Turn your baggy shirt inside out. Smooth it out on a work table.
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    Set your fitted t-shirt on top of the baggy shirt. Line up the collars of the 2 shirts. Make sure your fitted shirt is centered.
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    Trace around the edges of the fitted shirt with a fabric marker. Your lines can be slightly larger than the shirt, to account for seams, if your fitted shirt is very tight.
    • If your baggy shirt is dark, you will need to use a white fabric pencil.
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    Pin in several places along the lines you just drew to keep the 2 sides of the shirt together. [3]
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    Prepare your sewing machine. Use thread that matches the material of your baggy shirt.
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    Sew a close stitch along the fabric pencil lines on your baggy t-shirt. Make sure to follow lines closely, sew straight and backstitch. You will create several inches of excess fabric along the sides.
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    Try on the t-shirt while it is still inside out. It should fit well. If it does not, use a seam ripper to remove the stitches you just made and repeat the process for a better fit.
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    Cut off the excess material approximately 1/2 inches (1.3 cm) outside your new seams. [4]
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    Turn the shirt inside out. Try it on.
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    Opt to hem the sleeves, if they are too long. You can turn your t-shirt inside out again, measure them evenly around the perimeter and hem them up with a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) fold.

Tips

  • If your t-shirt or button down shirt is too small, you can try ripping the side seams and sewing in a contrasting or complimentary panel of fabric to create more room in the body. Use an iron to fold the edges of the shirt back approximately 1/4 inch (0.6 cm), then do the same with your 1 to 3 inch (2.5 to 7.6 cm) rectangle of fabric. Pin and sew where the folded edges meet. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • When altering shirts, you can fold them in half vertically along the front to check that the sleeves and side stitches are even. They should mirror each other every step of the way.

Things You'll Need

  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric marker/pencil
  • Fabric scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron


Article Info

Categories: Sewing Clothes