If you have a favorite T-shirt that has become a little too tight to wear comfortably, you’ll appreciate this easy way to alter it so you have room to breathe. Here, I show you how I added fabric to my favorite Coney Island T-shirt (The Fire Eater, of course) to alter it after it shrank, or I grew, or a combination of both.
This particular T-shirt is actually a size Large. It technically fit, but at 38 years old and as a mother of two, I just don’t feel comfortable wearing a shirt in which you can count my ribs. Our bodies change over time, sisters, and that’s why I’m posting this. We all have our favorite T-shirts, and who wants to replace them all just because they’re a little tight?
I suggest that you start with your second favorite shirt. This way you can experiment a little as you follow my steps, and then you’ll be more confident with your fave tee. This is an easy way to alter a T-shirt if you’re at least a beginner at sewing (you can also find free sewing patterns and tips here).
In no way am I professional seamstress, so forgive me for using less-than-technical terms. I just know how to get a job done. 😉 I used a simple stitch and sewed by hand, and it took me about an hour from start to finish. If you have a sewing machine you can probably have this done in no time flat, with even better results. Have a constructive suggestion for me? Share it the comments below!
How to Alter a T-Shirt
- Cut the side seams of the shirt from the bottom of it up to the “intersection” of the underarm.
2. Cut what will become the extra fabric on your fave shirt. I used a plain T-shirt that I had planned on donating. It, ironically, was too big. You can use any type of fabric for this step, as long as it’s at least one inch longer than the seam you cut from your fave shirt. Make sure the colors are appealing together, if that’s what you’re going for.
This (above) is what your extra fabric strips will look like. I made mine about three inches wide, giving me plenty of new breathing room in the final T-shirt. The strips can be rectangles, or can taper on one end. When you begin sewing them to your fave shirt, you’ll see that the top will become a nice, sharp triangle point, and will be wider toward the bottom of the shirt. Feel free to measure, or wing it like I did.
3. Turn your fave shirt inside-out. Choose a side and sew one of the extra scraps of fabric to the part of the shirt that you cut in step 1. It should be more narrow toward the top and get wider as it goes down to the bottom.
Above, left: Here you can see how the seam ends up looking more like a point. I cut the extra fabric from this section, but it’s better to have too much fabric rather than not enough.
Above, right: This is what the inside of the bottom seam looks like. It’s messy, I know, but it works! I folded the last 1/2-inch of fabric and sewed it so that the “public” side looks nice and neat.
So there you have it! I hope this inspires you to save your favorite clothes and experiment with altering them yourself before you donate them or take them to a consignment shop. Empower yourself!
I learned how to sew only because buying performance costuming can really add up. I’ve made my own coin bras (such as the one in the photograph above), skirts, and more. It’s fun! 🙂 See what you can come up with, and tell me about it!
Peace, love, and fire,