DIY Fashion: How to Take in a T-Shirt

Updated on November 24, 2019
a beautiful mess profile image

I enjoy fashion and looking trendy on a budget. I also create art, take photos, and save money by doing things myself.

I have SO many t-shirts that are just a tad too big. Mainly, they come from concerts, events at school, clubs, and so on. Most shirts from these events are in men's sizes, and a men's small doesn't cut it for me. So when I find myself with oversized shirts, they usually end up being used as sleep-shirts, or I don't wear them at all.

I also have a radio show that I sell shirts for. I make the shirts myself, and knowing how to take them in a size really helps: if someone orders a large and I only have XL shirts, I can take one in pretty quickly and still make the sale.

Sometimes, I find a really awesome t-shirt for someone else! Then I look at the tag, and it's a size too big. If they don't have the right size, it either means you don't get the shirt, or you deal with it being baggy.

Well, to take a shirt in a size is actually pretty easy—it's a useful skill, and it results in a lot of these shirts actually being worn more.

How do you use your too-big t-shirts?

See results


To take in a shirt, you'll need a sewing machine (unless you're a master seamstress), thread, scissors, a washable marker, your oversized shirt, and a shirt that is the proper size.

Make sure your scissors are extra sharp! If you plan on working with fabric more often, I suggest getting a pair of scissors just for fabrics—you don't want to dull it on other things.

As for the thread you use, try to get the color as close to that of your shirt as possible. Sometimes though, it looks really cool to use different colored thread—like, red thread on a black shirt.

You'll also need two shirts—say you're trying to make a medium shirt from a large. Grab one of your medium shirts and use it as a pattern for the large one.

You also need a washable marker to mark where you need to sew.

One shirt, two shirt, white shirt, Jaeger.
One shirt, two shirt, white shirt, Jaeger.

Step 1: Marking the Size Difference

Take your larger shirt and lay it inside-out, flat on the ground. Then, lay your smaller shirt on top of it. Line the necklines of the shirts up.

Using the smaller shirt as a pattern, take your marker and lightly make a dashed line from the bottom of the sleeves to the armpit seam, and then vertically down the side of the shirt. Do this on both the right and the left sides, making sure they're even.

The biggest difference in sizes is in the width of the shirt—it will still look normal if you leave it at the same length. For this shirt, I also left the length of the sleeves the same —it didn't look much different after the alterations.

Now, get your sewing machine out!

Sew sew sew your shirt, gently down the seam!
Sew sew sew your shirt, gently down the seam!

Step 2: Sewing

Follow your sewing machine's instructions for spinning the lower thread. Once your machine is all threaded, set your stitch! I always use a stretch stitch on t-shirts—it looks like a lightning bolt.

When you're ready to sew, you can start at either the sleeve or the bottom hem of the shirt. Make sure it's inside out! Wherever you start, make sure you sew towards the seam first.

Sew in straight lines. Once you reach the armpit seam, that's when you change direction. Don't do it before or after, or it'll look funny!

I usually start an inch away from the end of the sleeve—and then once I get to the end, I leave the needle where it is and switch directions. I'll sew to the armpit seam, turn 90 degrees and then keep sewing down. I'll sew down the shirt until I reach the bottom seam, and then sew back up an inch. This keeps you from having to tie knots and stuff. It's confusing to explain, but here's a picture to help.

Follow the red lines! Basically, you're double-stitching at the ends to reinforce your stitch.
Follow the red lines! Basically, you're double-stitching at the ends to reinforce your stitch.

Step 3: Cut Off the Excess

Once you're done sewing, cut the ends of the string off so they're not hanging out. Also, trim off the excess fabric from the sleeves and sides of the shirt.

Don't leave it on, or it'll make you look frumpy! Cut about a centimeter away from the seam you just sewed.

XL to L!
XL to L!

You're Done!

That's all there is to it. Your shirt should fit wonderfully now, so you can wear it in public without looking like a bum! If you're looking for other jazzy things to do, you can cut it all up again, or add a design. I've got a few t-shirt tutorials out there, so play around!

Don't let an oversized t-shirt hold you back!

Was this article helpful?

See results

© 2014 Alex Rose


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I take in T shirts all the time for my lesbian friends, they buy butch men's T shirts and they want to wear them looking normal for them.....

    • a beautiful mess profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex Rose 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      Comes in handy for me with concert t-shirts. They're usually sold out of the right size, so I have to get a giant one! I've made XL shirts into smalls before!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      I don't usually have this problem, I like big oversized tshirts, but I love this idea. Sometimes I'll see a tshirt on sale for some ridiculous price, but it's too big and this is the perfect solution!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)