Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How To: make a big t-shirt fit

If you're a woman, especially one in the tech industry, I'm sure you've gotten your fair share of men's t-shirts, which are usually too big in some places, maybe tight in others, and generally not flattering. (There's a great write up about why this sucks and how "unisex" shirts aren't that over on the Geek Feminism Wiki.)

I decline or get rid of a lot of these shirts, but there are a few that I'd love to keep, such as my MagmaConf shirt, but they fit so badly that I don't even care to wear them around the house. Honestly it kinda sucks to have to bust out the sewing machine just to comfortably wear a t-shirt that was made for the guys that attended whatever event I went to, but it's also nice to know that I can.

So! In case others of you are interested and don't know where to start, here's a pretty easy DIY. You need a sewing machine and basic knowledge of how to do a simple stitch (or a needle, thread, and a lot of patience). There are a lot of steps, but honestly it's pretty straightforward, and stretchy t-shirts make it pretty forgiving if you don't get it perfect.

Before / After
  1. Turn your shirt inside out!

  2. Cut the sleeves and neckline out.

    The neckline is optional but I think it gives it more of a casual feel. You just want to make sure the seams are gone - you can stay really close to them or add an inch or two around. The biggest thing to watch out for is jagged edges, so be careful and try to cut a smooth line around.

    If there are any inner seams sticking out, like below, trim these diagonally so the ends don't show through the sleeves.
  3. Put the shirt on (still inside out) and grab a sharpie or fabric pen. Go down each side and pull the excess fabric out from your body (if the shirt has side seams, it helps to keep that centered where you're pulling). Do this in about three places (armpit, waist, hip) and mark where the fabric hits your body. It doesn't need to be skin tight, but enough to give you a general idea.

  4. Take the shirt off and connect the lines with your marker. (I switched from silver sharpie to black - neither shows up great for photos.)

  5. Sew! I usually use thread that's about the same color as my shirt, but I'm using white here. Sew a long, slightly curved line down your drawn-on line, and make sure to go up through part of the sleeve opening, too.

  6. Before you take scissors to it, try it on! I just leave it inside out for this part. Look at how it fits and where the seams hit. If something looks off, you can take a seam ripper to your stitches and resew (if it's too tight) or just sew a new seam within the first one (if it's still loose). Mine's usually pretty close on the first try - the lines I drew earlier help!

  7. When you're happy with the fit, cut the excess fabric off of the inside (it's ok to leave 1/4"-1/2" of extra), flip inside out, and voila!
Side, before and after (with the terrible faces I was making cropped off):

Inspired by Katie's tutorial on Skunkboy Blog

If you want something easier and no-sew, check out this DIY on Twinkie Chan's blog (I tried this and it didn't look quite as cute on me as on her blog, probably because all the excess fabric is still hanging around.)

Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment