How-to: Take in a Too-Large T-Shirt Tutorial

Take in a Too Large Tshirt tutorial

Tired of being swamped by a too-large T-shirt?

My Mammaw would tell you that you look slouchy when your clothes are too big.

Gain my Mammaw’s approval, and a T-shirt that is cuter and comfier to wear, by taking it in. It’s a great way to make Goodwill finds wearable, and a great way to revamp your wardrobe after a weight loss. Since I buy all my clothes from Goodwill AND have lost 23 pounds so far in the last few months (yes, that WAS an invitation to compliment me!), I have been tearing through all my T-shirts this summer, and I’ve got several transformative tutes to offer you in the next few months.

For now, however, let’s start at the very beginning–taking in your T-shirt.

1. Iron and starch your too-large T-shirt. Turn your T-shirt inside-out, and iron it perfectly flat, with nice, straight hems. Often, T-shirts will have twisted hems if they’re well-worn–jersey knit doesn’t always shrink and stretch evenly, especially if it’s been cut on the bias. Jersey knit IS super forgiving, however, so with a spritzer of water, an iron, and plenty of patience, you can futz your hems back to their original condition if they’re twisted. This alone will likely do a lot to improve the shirt’s fit!

To help you with your sewing, starch the snot out of the shirt and iron it dry. Don’t like store-bought spray starch? Make your own starch!

Measure and chalk new hems up both sides of the shirt and sleeves.2. Chalk all hems evenly on both sides.Β This is a simple mod, so we’re not going to take apart the shirt at the seams… today. Instead, decide how much width you’d like to remove from your shirt, halve it, and measure out a chalk line that distance from each side hem of the shirt. Do the same with the sleeves, measuring from the underarm; this line should meet the side hem line at a point that will be your new underarm.

If you need to remove length from the shirt, measure it, mark it, and cut it now, before you begin to sew. Don’t take as much length as you want to–you’ll be leaving the bottom edge raw, which means that the fabric will curl somewhat, so give it an extra half-inch to do so. Don’t forget to check the length of your shirtsleeves–if you need to remove length from the bottom of the shirt, then the sleeves are probably too long, too.

Stitch over the chalk line.3. Sew down your chalked lines.Β Pin the two halves of the shirt together, then sew all the way down each chalk line, from sleeve cuff to bottom hem, lifting your presser foot and turning the shirt at the underarm vertex. Choose any stitch that’s good for jersey knit fabric, and a stretch or ball point needle.

Trim the excess fabric away from the new seam.4. Trim the seams.Β Trim the excess fabric from the seams, and overlockΒ the raw edges if you’d like.

5. Try the shirt on and adjust.Β Try the shirt on and move around in it to make sure that it’s comfy. If you decide that you need to remove more width, it’s easy to do–simply follow steps 2 and 3 again.

If you’d like some extra shaping around your bust, you can iron a well-fitted and nicely-shaped shirt flat and use its silhouette as a guide for shaping the bodice. Otherwise, your brand-new smaller, well-fitting shirt is ready to go!

6 thoughts on “How-to: Take in a Too-Large T-Shirt Tutorial”

  1. Yeah, congrats! It’s a tough thing to accomplish, but getting into better shape feels so good.

    Love the simplicity of the t-shirt redo. Not sure the next time I will get a chance to sew, but I have a few shirts that I need to make smaller for me and the kiddo.

    1. I have a bad habit of thrifting WAY too large T-shirts for the kiddos, if they’re truly excellent, and then I throw them in our off-season bin until they fit. Fortunately, Will is perfectly content to wear AC/DC, Pearl Jam, and Powerpuff Girls T-shirts, etc.

      1. If the shirt doesn’t have horses, chances are the kiddo won’t wear it much. Thankfully, Gramma has a knack for finding shirts for the kiddo.

  2. I have so many20$ t shirts I can not wear because the arm holes are to I can alter with no problem. I can measure with one that fits.thanks for this idea.helps me to pull out all my shirts and get busy!

  3. My only question is… Why have I not done this before?!!! My work shirts are like boxes, no shape, no actual fit. I made a pattern to follow on the rest of them. Love this!

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