Monday, December 6, 2010

Make a small shirt bigger

Have shirts that no longer fit? Don't throw/give them away just yet. This idea for making small shirts fit again may just work for you.

I have a black "under" shirt that shrunk, and even thought it was bought to wear under things, it wasn't even comfortable enough to do that, since breathing and moving one's arms are important.

I got the idea to add side panels to the shirt by googling something like "how to make a small shirt bigger" or "how to fix a shirt that shrunk"....and found someone's response on

Since it was as simple as adding a piece of fabric to each side, I decided I would give her idea a try.

This is how it started:

I cut up another black t-shirt to add as the panel. I guessed on how much width to add - I think it may have been 3-4 inches per side including seam allowance. It depends on how much wider you want it.
Next, I sliced open the shirt (sounds much more gorey than it was)

I took the shirt off the dress form, turned it inside out and pinned and sewed the panel pieces to each side.

Here's the shirt sewn together, still inside out so you can see how the panels fit
Here's the completed shirt (sorry the black is hard to see) but you can tell how much looser it hangs on the dress form.

It worked perfectly. Now my shrunken undershirt fits. And it doesn't matter that the blacks are slightly off because it's never worn on the outside.

The woman on Craftster recommend adding panels of contrasting fabric to each side. Just a thought.

Your favorite shirts may not be headed to the thrift store after all!

*See my 2nd tutorial on making a small white shirt bigger

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  1. This is one if my favorite "upcycle ideas" that you've done!

  2. Brilliant!! Couldn't find anything with pictures!! Need to do this for a dress but only at the bust part, i'm just going to go along the lines of this and hopefully i can do it. Thanks a million!!

    1. Ciara,
      Glad my tips could help. Did it end up working for you? Hope so!

  3. I'm gonna try this on some graphic tees that I just adore. To quirk it up a bit, I'm gonna use a complimenting color fabric instead of a matching fabric so it makes a stripe along the side. I'll either use jersey-knit or ribbed cotton.

    1. Hi Calindy,
      I love your idea to use a complimentary fabric! I'd love to see them when you're done if you'd like to share. :)

  4. I just bought some long sleeved Christmas costumes. These items came from china and I should of known the sizes were going to be way too small. I was thinking of doing the exact thing you did with your shirt.My question is, can the arms somehow made bigger. Maybe the same way as the sides?

    1. Hi Caira,
      Yes, you should be able to add fabric to the sides as well as the arms. The only slightly tricky part will be to make sure the new bigger sleeves will attach back in the arm holes correctly. Since you will have been altering the body as well, and it will all be a bit bigger anyway, it may not be too difficult. Have you made any attempts yet?

  5. Hi the top I want to make bigger has a waistband and i need to make it larger from the waistband to the underarm. How would you go about that? Or would it look silly to add a strip all the way down?


I'd love to hear what you have to say! Thanks so much for your comments! ♥


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