Introduction: Slim Fit T-Shirt Mod

Picture of Slim Fit T-Shirt Mod

I have a bunch of great logo tee-shirts but they're cut for men and I don't like the way they fit, so today I'm going to show you how to mod your t-shirts into a flattering shape that you'll actually wear.

Step 1:

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First, iron your shirts and turn them inside-out. Line up the template at the shoulders and trace around it with tailor's chalk.

Step 2:

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Pin along the new side seams, and cut off the sleeves at the new armhole. Run the new side seams through the serger.

Step 3:

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Lay out the old sleeve under the template t-shirt and mark the new underarm and armhole.

Step 4:

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Serge the underarm, then cut the shoulder curve.

Step 5:

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Flip the sleeve right side out and set it inside the armhole of the shirt. Pin both sleeves into their armholes.

Step 6:

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Serge the sleeve seams and you're all done!


LisaW253 made it! (author)2017-04-25

Thank you! Now I'm able to alter all my men's concert tees! :-)

bekathwia (author)LisaW2532017-05-04

Ahh yesss so good! Lookin fab. =D

erlns (author)2015-04-28

Great tutorial, I made it and my t-shirt now fit me perfectly :)

Thank you, keep the awesome work !

Greetings from Colombia.

yolanda.sutherland (author)2015-01-23

Excellent! Just what I needed. How about crew neck to V neck? ;-)

CelinaF1 (author)2014-09-02

I've used this tutorial 3 times now and it's a great idea. One thing I didn't keep in mind, though, is the seam allowance. So I lost 1/4" all the way around and my modded t's are all really tight now. Just wanted to point this out so peeps wouldn't make the same mistake I made. :)

mvd011244 (author)2013-11-16

This is just what I was looking for. Thank you, so much.

Aswa (author)2013-10-25

I've had this 'ible in my favourites for a while, and even longer in my bookmarks, the one thing I was missing was a serger.
I just got an affordable one and couldn't wait to try this, as I have a pile of band shirts I've been wanting to adjust. I always get mens' shirts rather than girlies, because the material is usually sturdier, and the designs are bigger and cooler, and also, most girlies are way short.
So I finally got to try this, and I must say this is probably the most straight-forward and easiest tutorial I've seen for this kind of mod.
At first I was sceptical, but it's like magic!
Boxy to foxy, indeed!
Adjusted 3 shirts so far and will work my way through the pile. It's as if I had been on a massive shoping trip, suddenly I have so much more to wear! ;)
Thank you so much for sharing this. :)

theowoo (author)2013-05-05

Great instructable! Could you make one for trousers/jeans as well?

Fretka (author)2012-01-23

I have been searching for a how-to to do this !!

I found your 'ible and was able to mod my prized tees that I couldn't wear any longer due to a major weight loss ( 120 lbs !!)
 my thanks are my prized tees I was able to alter !!!

lilsurelybeans (author)2011-08-25

Your instructable was very helpful with the sleeves. Cutting them out separate makes it look more polished and easier than what I was going to try.

I also agree with HVANSICK. You don't need a serger to do this. My old 1970s zig zag machine sews jersey just fine.
I use a size 11 needle and stretch stitch foot. I straight stitch the seams (according the to straight stretch stitch settings in my manual). Then I use a pineleaf stretch stitch on the edge to overcast a neat edge on the raw edge. My machine also has an overcast stretch stitch that will fix the raw edges and stitch the seam at the same time, but I usually do them separately.
Just read your manual. It will tell you what stitches to use with what fabrics. If you have an old machine without a manual, a lot of manuals/tutorials are online too.

Toboe (author)2011-08-20

i dont think i could do this with my school uniform

Fishpail (author)2011-07-13

The hardest part is probably learning how to use a serger... wait they have manuals for that, the hardest part is FINDING a serger.
As a university student living on her own. I'm run out of luck on this. Cause DAMN they're pricey! Even used!

Still, great ible!

sarimsaq (author)2011-02-17

If I don't have a serger, will a zigzag stich work??

bekathwia (author)sarimsaq2011-02-18

As others have mentioned, you'll have mixed results with various stitches on a regular sewing machine. Sergers have a differential feed, which makes them superb at sewing together stretchy things like cotton jersey. Borrow one from a friend!

Wolf Seril (author)2011-02-14

Very nice, might have to try this when I finally get a sewing machine.

I'm a guy, but I'm tall and skinny, so normally I have to choose between a shirt that fits well but barely reaches my belt, or a shirt that is the right length but could fit two of me.

locofocos (author)Wolf Seril2011-02-14

Same here. 6'2", 135 pounds, with broad shoulders... I would definitely love to see a version of this for guys (with no sewing skills of course).

Treknology (author)locofocos2011-02-18

@ Wolf Seril
@ locofocos

In both cases find a shirt that fits the shoulders and arms, and it is worth the expense of going to a professional and sacrificing those t-shirts to have a proper set of cardboard "blocks" made that will then incorporate the length you require.

Once you have your custom "blocks", you can cut as many t-shirts as you want, widening them if you want a sloppy fit or narrowing them to get that "I'm Tom Cruise, check out my lack of muscles" look--if you really want the body-conscious tight look, use double-ribbed fabric instead of plain Jersey.

And yes, Fabric shops will often help out guys, just as electronic shops will help out females, because there's a recognized imbalance in these fields, and therefore people seek to increase the under-represented group.

As far as self-teaching, pick up a rough machine at a garage sale, using any colored thread, and just start sewing lines and patterns into old bits of fabric--towels, handkerchiefs, torn t-shirts.

Obviously, based on my NIC, I would rather just request the right item from the Relicator, but they haven't eventuated yet, so making them is your best choice.

bekathwia (author)locofocos2011-02-15

Should work as written, you just have to find a shirt that fits you first! Maybe you can use one of the ones that's too short as a template, and slim down a longer shirt. Sorry locofocos, it's always going to involve sewing, but this is a good project for beginners, so give it a try!

makalove (author)2011-02-17

Perhaps you explain in the video where the two t-shirts come from, or that the instructable is for making one t-shirt fit well by cutting it to fit like another, or maybe how to manage the project without a serger (or perhaps you don't! i can't really tell!) but you might consider giving a SLIGHTLY more thorough explanation in text for those who can't/won't/don't watch videos.

Personally, i'm fine with instructables that contain video that adds to the instructable, but i dislike instructables that aren't usable without their video component, particularly when the video doesn't have any closed captioning available.

Treknology (author)makalove2011-02-18

Higher up the list is the suggestion that a closely spaced zig-zig stitch can suffice, however an overlocker (serger) will give a tidier, less likely to fray finish.

And don't be ashamed to be male and able to use sewing equipment. I am a qualified commercial sewing machinist.

Gardenclaire (author)2011-02-17

I agree, the result looks really good, but I really didn't understand the sleeve part!

Treknology (author)Gardenclaire2011-02-18

The sleeve modification is so that the seam sits on your shoulder, not your elbow.

hvansick (author)2011-02-17

For all the speculators out there, this CAN be done without a serger! I have been doing this for years with my regular machine. Here are a few things that I have learned over those years:

-your machine must have a "stretch" stitch mode available (typically a setting, just like buttonhole is a setting). Without the stretch stitch, since t-shirts typically are stretchy fabric and stretch to be put on, the thread will not give and your seam will break, causing a hole in your new shirt. :( Stretch stitch mode gives the thread more give and allows stretching in the seam. A zig-zag stitch also works in the absence of a stretch stitch mode, but use a shorter/closer together stitch to keep the seam from having strange-looking gaps when turned right side out.

-you should seriously consider getting ball-tipped needles for your machine. They are usually sold for stretchy materials (like lycra, jersey, etc) and can usually be found in the notion section of a craft/sewing store. The problem with standard needles is that the needle actually cuts the individual fibers of the tee material, causing many micro-holes where you sewed your seams. I learned this after having much larger obvious holes after a few washings. The ball-tipped needles push the fabric fibers out of the way, instead of slicing right through them.

Good luck to all those like me who would like to look nice in your favorite shirts, but don't have a serger! :)

poepadoe (author)2011-02-17

I've modified t-shirts without a serger. I am sure the serger helps create a more professional outcome, but you can get by without one. That said, I am in the market for a used/inexpensive serger. So many pieces of clothing just don't quite fit me right without a bit of sewing and cutting.
Thanks for posting.

bizzielizzi (author)2011-02-17

I have been holding on to my old boxy fav tees in hopes that someday I might figure out how to do this very project! Thanks so much!! I don't have a serger but I'm going to practice on an old T of Hubby's to see if I can make it work on my regular old sewing machine, somehow. I'm not tooooo picky, so I'll see and report back. How do I see your other "weekly" projects? are they all sewing??

fin saunders (author)2011-02-17

Lately, I've been buying XXXL wool sweaters at the thrift stores and (gasp!) throwing them into the wash with my regular clothes.

Over time they felt a bit (the purpose of washing them) but remain too large for me.

Using your technic, my daughter and I will attempt to properly size the sweaters for a more appropriate contour.

Dark brown elephant skin isn't cutting it, even in the workshop.

jessandstavro (author)2011-02-15

Great instructable!

frenzy (author)2011-02-15

We just got in some women's shirts, what size are you?

yokozuna (author)2011-02-14

I caught the soldering tutorial you guys did the other night, nice job on both counts.

bekathwia (author)yokozuna2011-02-14


About This Instructable




Bio: Becky Stern is a content creator at Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from wearable electronics to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky ... More »
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