How to Make a Fitted Shirt

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Many of us have oversized and unflattering shirts in our dressers and closets. With just a bit of time and a sewing machine, you can turn that never-worn shirt into a fitted shirt that you can wear and enjoy. If you don't have a nice oversized shirt to use, visit your local thrift store and pick one up.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Oversized shirt, either knit T-shirt or woven button-down
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • French curve or curved template from around the house
  • Fabric marker
  • 1/4-inch elastic (optional)

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  1. 1

    Start with an oversized shirt. It can be a man's dress shirt, a T-shirt with a favourite logo or a thrift-store find with great fabric. Try on the shirt you are remaking inside out. This will allow you to pin in any changes and sew them.

  2. 2

    Determine what changes you want to make. You can bring in the side seams, add darts, alter the collar and change the sleeves. Keep in mind that you will also need to alter the shoulder and sleeve line to create a well-fitting shirt. If you are working with a knit, altering from the side seams works quite well. Woven fabrics lend themselves better to darts and seaming to take in the fullness. Pin these changes into place, spreading the excess fullness evenly among each of your darts or seams.

  3. 3

    Pin along your shoulder line, creating a neat curve from the armpit around the shoulder on one side. You will copy this cut on the other side to make your fitted shirt.

  4. 4

    Use a straight edge and French curve to create your new armhole opening. Mark it with a washable marker on each side of your shirt and cut away the old sleeves. Baste your side seams and darts into place, leaving the excess fabric.

  5. 5

    Try on your shirt again. Adjust your side seams and darts as needed. Sew these into place.

  6. 6

    Now that your refashioned shirt fits, it's time to add style. You can do this by altering the neckline, sleeves and hemline.

    Cut the neckline into a wide scoop and add a casing for narrow elastic or ribbon to create a peasant look. Simply cut away a ribbed neckline on a knit T-shirt for a casual look. If you are working with a man's dress shirt, you can leave the collar, remove the collar or remake the neckline.

    Take the original sleeves and shorten them if desired. Hem or add elastic to gather. Cut back the sleeve to the previous shoulder seam line and run two rows of basting threads to gather the sleeve cap. Pin and stitch into place.

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