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The Cheaters Method of Shirt Downsizing

HOW TO: cheaters shirt downsizing

Remember this shirt? At $2 it was such a bargain from my local thrift store (and toooootally made me think of this Madewell shirt and this Jcrew shirt my lovely friend Kendi has), but was 2 sizes too big. So I made a “quick and dirty” alteration, and now it fits perfectly. Admittedly, I hate mending, and I hate alterations – but they are necessary evils, and an alteration i end up doing A LOT is downsizing shirts.

I think you will love this, because this little trick is an easy way to make a too-big shirt fit. I call it my “cheater” method, because it is definitely not the correct way to downsize a shirt, but works most of the time, as long as the shirt is only 1 or 2 sizes too big. Any bigger than that, and you risk weird proportions at the end.

Here’s what you do…

Tadaaaaaaa!!

HOW TO: cheaters shirt downsizing
Now, don’t forget: this will only work for shirts that are 1 maybe 2 sizes too big. The reason for this is that the top of the sleeve seam should sit on your shoulder correctly, and every size larger than your actual size pushes the shoulder seam further away from your actual shoulder – meaning that using this alteration for a shirt that is way too big will result in the shoulder seams hanging down your arm, and well, that just looks weird. Not to mention, it’ll be uncomfy. If your shirt is a couple of sizes too big, it’s best to remove the sleeves completely, alter them separately from the shirt, and then add them back.
About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Meg
Meg
10 years ago

This is an awesome tip! Thanks for sharing. I think even I could handle this.

La Chapstick Fanatique
La Chapstick Fanatique
10 years ago

I have totally done this before. And after i sew I just chop the extra off with scissors. It doesn’t look good on inside but it looks fine on the outside.

http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

Sarah
10 years ago

I’ll definitely have to try this! I find a lot of great shirts at the thrift stores but usually they are too big for me. Now I have a way to alter them! Thanks!!

Sarah
10 years ago

This tip is pretty handy and has great timing… I am about to embark on a downsizing effort for a friend who’s lost 2 sizes in recent months!
Do you think it would work with french seams, for longevity’s sake?

Van@The Clothes We Wear

Thank you! I will give this a try.

Trudy Callan
10 years ago

I love this method. Sound so easy. Thanks.

Brigita
10 years ago

Great cheater method! Thanks for sharing, it will come in useful.

Elle Croft
10 years ago

This is such a cute outfit! And such an easy alteration…I think I have a shirt this may work on…

Theresa
Theresa
10 years ago

This is great! Shirts are often too wide in the bust and waist for me (but fit my relatively broad shoulders) – this method seems perfect to fix this problem!

mil
mil
10 years ago

You have so many good ideas you will have to write a book!

--ginger.
10 years ago

Thaaaaaannnnkkkkk you. I’ve been considering and hacking at a much more annoying way of doing this and I OFTEN pick up a shirt 1-2 sizes too big. Thank you. Thank you, Megan.

Leesa
10 years ago

Great tip but I don’t think this is really cheating. I do professional alterations for a living and this is exactly what I would do except I would pin it on the customer to get the fit they want. I usually finish with french seams because they are easy and look nice.

sartoriography
10 years ago

DOING THIS! I love these little tutorials. They make my day!

Claire from Handmade by ClaireBear

As the grand-daughter of two tailors, I can confirm that this is DEFINITELY CHEATING, but I like it anyway!
Love your blog.
Claire

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

I did the same thing with a couple of cardigan sweaters that were too big. Worked great.

Lou
Lou
7 years ago

i AM HEARTSICK. JUST FOUND YOUR SITE AND TAKING IN SHIRTS IS TOPS ON MY LIST. BUT ALL I GOT WAS BLANK SQUARES WHERE THE INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD HAVE BEEN. I DID SEE THE LAST TWO IMAGES. CAN YOU HELP?

ALSO, MY FRIENDS AND I ARE BEYOND DESPERATE TO FIND PRINTED TUTORIALS (NOT VIDEOS) ON HOW TO INSTALL AND USE THE MANY SEWING FEET WE HAVE PURCHASED AND HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO USE. WILL YOU PLEASE CONSIDER DOING TUTORIALS ON THOSE? THE VIDEOS ARE GREAT BUT I NEED SOMETHING I CAN PRINT OFF FROM MY 3D STOREY OFFICE AND TAKE DOWN TO MY 1ST STOREY SEWING CENTER.

YOUR SITE IS PERFECT AND WILL BE A GO-TO FOR ME.