Easily Alter a Crew Neck T-shirt




Introduction: Easily Alter a Crew Neck T-shirt

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

This is a t-shirt alteration I've been doing for years! At my old job I always had to wear Half Price Books t-shirts to work, and they normally only came in boxy lady sizes or really large unisex sizes - but always with a very tight crew neck. I hate crew necks!

This trick takes only a couple minutes to do, and I've even included a tip about what to do with your sleeves if they're too long or too tight. :D

Please note that this only works on jersey/knits - and no hemming is needed because the fabric won't fray. (Please see the last step for more info!) It might roll a bit after washing, though! You can also do this trick with a piece of chalk, some pins and some nice scissors, too. The rotary cutter is just easier.  

Step 1: What You'll Need:

Step 2: Center the Bowl

Flatten your shirt as well as you can - make sure you don't have any seams laying oddly.

Center the bowl an inch or two below the existing neckline. Make sure you're leaving an equal amount of space from the bowl edge to each shoulder.

Step 3: Follow the Edge of the Bowl

Hold the bowl down with one hand and trace the edge firmly using the rotary cutter. 

Once you've made one good pass, remove the bowl and clean up any spots that may not have been cut all the way through with the rotary cutter.

Step 4: Tip: Dealing With Too Long or Too Tight Sleeves

Sometimes I cut the sleeves of my shirts down a bit too! This is a great trick if you have a large unisex shirt or if the hem of the sleeve is too small to allow a full range of motion.

The first picture shows what the sleeves will look like - they roll a bit, but they're much more comfortable. :D

I use a clear ruler and a rotary cutter to cut the same amount off each sleeve. Just flatten the sleeve well and use the cuff edge as a guide for cutting - that way you'll still have a nice slant to the sleeve and the edges will stay nice and straight.

Step 5: If You're Worried About the Neckline Unraveling

I've seen a few people worrying in the comments about the shirt unraveling.

I've got several of these, varying in age from brand new to 6-8 years old. I've never had one unravel, but here's what to do if you're worried.

Hand stitch next to the neckline of the shirt, over where the front and back pieces of fabric meet. That will tack it together for you. :D



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    31 Discussions

    Thanks for posting this! Used to do this all the time as a teen, wanted to check and see if I remembered correctly :)

    Slight variation: Trace around the plate with tailor's chalk. Try on the t-shirt and check to see that the new neckline is where you want it - make modifications and redraw the neckline as needed. Then, cut with fabric scissors (or really sharp regular scissors).

    Remember the old sewing adage: measure twice, cut once!

    I'm a dude. Tried this last night. My neck is huge for a normal sized person so all T-shirt necks are too tight. This kind of modification results in a fairly feminine look, so probably not a great idea for most dudes. Looks like a great idea for you ladies though. Rock on.

    1 reply

    My seamstress mom altered my father's t-shirts to fit his neck for years. Very easy to do and not too feminine looking at all. Just carefully cut the neck band off the shirt below the lowest stitching line. If it has reinforcement in the back make sure to cut below that. Keep the neckband intact as a ring. Stretch the neckband (not the shirt) to fit the new opening, and pin in place with right edges together. Sew along what was the upper line of stitching. That's it. My father had a large neck also, and this fix made wearing crew necks comfortable

    I just did this but changed it slightly! I didn't want the back of the neck to be cut as low as the front of the neck and I didn't have the rotary cutter so I had to do it differently.

    So using a 9" plate and a sharpie, I placed the plate so it created a nice scoop neck in the front and traced around it - then I turned the shirt over and placed the plate so it met the marks from the front at the shoulder but just made a small circle in the back which mainly just took out the collar - I cut around the mark with regular scissors.


    Nice idea. I'm a guy who hates the way tee shirt necklines strangle me - blame it on too much weightlifting and later in life eating too well. What is that rotary cutter? Where would I find one? It sounds like a great idea!

    1 reply

    A rotary cutter is a type of cutter that many people who sew use. It looks kind of like a pizza cutter. You can find them in craft stores. I would suggest checking Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, or local sewing/craft stores. You can even find them on Amazon. Just as a word of caution, be very careful while using it because it is sharp enough that it could cut you to the bone if you use enough pressure.

    Nice tutorial. Just to add, you really want to stitch or give a border line to the neck otherwise it'll not last much after few washes.

    Source: Experience :)

    2 replies

    I have done this to many knit shirts also, and they won't ravel; it's the nature of knits. I don't cut the back neckline as low as the front, though. On mine, I only cut just outside the collar on the back, and scoop down below the neckline on the front like yours. Nice tutorial, thanks!!

    I've never had one unravel and I've washed some of mine probably 100s of times. If anyone's worried about it coming apart, hand stitch right next to the neckline where the front and back meet, that should tack it in place. :)

    Rotary cutter = joy!

    For those who don't like having a raw edge, or are worried about it unravelling: make the cut about 1/2 inch less deep than you want it to be. Run a line of machine stay-stitching around the neck 1/2 inch in from the cut edge - this helps stabilise it, and also makes it easier to turn a hem under. Turn the t-shirt inside-out. Using an iron and pins, turn a hem over so that your line of stay-stitching is just inside the fold of the hem (on the inside of the shirt), pin as you go. Clip from the raw edge to the stay-stitching if any tight curve is giving you a hard time. Stitch down an even width from the fold of the hem (if your sewing machine doesn't have guiding grooves marked on it, you can stick on a bit of masking tape and line the fold up with that).

    Ta-da! Nicely hemmed and will last as long as the t-shirt does - looks a bit posher if it is a work shirt, too.

    I love this Jessy! Are the new shirts the same design in the back as the old ones? Any new wonderful colors???? Thanks for sharing and do have a super weekend!

    Rofl..the farm boys have been doing this around here for decades. Nothing new..even this old lady cuts the neckline off sometimes.

    Thanks, Jessy! This may be the answer to my dreams. V-neck T-shirts used to have pretty deep vees, so you didn't see them poking up above the open neck of a casual shirt worn over the T, but recent V-necks are hardly any better than crew necks. Your mod, or just cutting a deeper V, should work well. Hard to believe they don't unravel, but well worth a try on an old shirt first! Many smiles sent your way! :-)

    Oh I hate that strangly crew neck thing - I have a few like that! Never could stand turtlenecks either.

    3 replies

    Just cut and wear, very easy. Go for it ladies!