How to taper a dress shirt

Written by shaunta alburger
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How to taper a dress shirt
(sewing machine image by pavel siamionov from

Styles, and bodies, change over time. But a classic garment shouldn't go by the wayside just because it doesn't fit the way you want it to. Taking a dress shirt in---tapering the sides for a more fitted look---is a great way to alter the look or fit of a shirt that isn't quite what you want anymore. Follow these steps to taper a dress shirt.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • 1 dress shirt that fits the way you want your altered shirt to fit
  • Measuring tape
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Pins
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread (to match)
  • Pinking shears
  • Sewing machine

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    How to Taper a Dress Shirt

  1. 1

    Turn the shirt that needs altering inside out and lay it out on a flat surface. Lay the shirt that fits the way you want the altered shirt to on top of the first shirt. Use the measuring tape to help centre the shirts as exactly as possible.

  2. 2

    On each side of the body of the shirt you are altering, use the tailor's chalk to draw a line that is about 1/4 inch larger than the shirt you are using as a pattern. Put away the pattern shirt.

  3. 3

    Pin along chalked line, and then sew each pinned line, leaving a 1/4 inch seam.

  4. 4

    Use the pinking shears to trim the excess fabric about 1/4 inch from the seam.

Tips and warnings

  • The same technique can be used to take in the shirt's sleeves.
  • This technique can be used to taper a men's dress shirt to fit a woman.

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