A well-fitted vintage shirt can be both effortless and super cute for summer. I’m probably diminishing my chances of finding something great while thrifting by doing this, but I think everyone should know: Just because that awesome shirt at the thrift store is too big for you, doesn’t mean you can’t make it fit. And no, I’m not talking about chopping tiny slits in it and making it into a halter top. I’m talking about making a shirt look like it’s your size. It takes a little bit of practice and a few key tools, but when you get the hand of it, it’ll change the way you shop for vintage. Take a look.
First start by trying it on. See exactly how far off it is by pinching the sides of the shirt while wearing it. Is it an inch? Two inches? Just get a general idea of how much the shirt would need to be taken in in order to fit comfortably. If you’re kinda chicken about it the first few times (and I don’t blame you — ripping out a seam is a pain) err on the side of leaving yourself more room; you can always make it tighter.
The next step is to sew it. Yep, you don’t need pins, and you don’t need to cut anything yet. It’s a really forgiving process. Just make sure the shirt is inside-out before you sew.
So you’ll measure from your sewing machine needle the length you decided to take the shirt in. If it was one inch, measure one inch to the right of your sewing needle. Use a sharpie or a piece of colored tape to make the mark if it isn’t already marked on your sewing machine. Now, just sew a line up the inside of the shirt, lining the original seam of the shirt up with that marking the whole time. It’ll take the shirt in an inch, all the way through the sleeve. Then repeat on the other side.
Now turn the shirt right-side-out and try it on. Does it fit? Before you’ve cut the slack off of the shirt, it’ll bunch up under the arms when you try it on. Don’t fret about that. If the sleeves are particularly long you can snip them off, following a similar guideline. Just measure in how much you want to take off and follow the outer line to make the right cut. Jersey doesn’t unravel so there’s no worries about your shirt slowly becoming one long piece of thread.
If you’re satisfied with the size of the shirt, you can turn it back inside-out and trim off the excess.
Voila! You just altered a shirt. You made something that would have rotted at Goodwill (until I found it, that is) into a cool one-of-a-kind piece. With a little work you can make a two-dollar tee shirt into something awesome and personal. Happy sewing!
Do you think you’ll give this DIY method a try?