One of the things we were going to do in Japan, as well as admire the cherry blossom, look at Mount Fuji from several different angles and visit the snow monkeys at the hot springs, was to go clothes shopping for souvenirs.
I’m not one for shopping very much generally, and the idea of going clothes shopping with a herd of boys in tow brings me out in a cold sweat!
But it was hubby’s idea to bring back souvenirs that were actually useful and that people could wear. My boys already have quite a nice collection of t shirts from places we’ve been and they’re a lovely reminder of all the places we’ve visited and the things we’ve done.
As the trip had to be postponed, hubby decided to raid Uniqlo online instead as the next best thing. He got the boys Pokemon t shirts and he bought me this.
Unfortunately the t shirt was way too big! I have put on weight since we’ve been in lockdown, but I’m not wider than I am tall!
I decided to do something about it, mainly because I like the t shirt, but also because I don’t like to have things taking up space in my small wardrobe that I don’t wear.
The other thing is that I’m only just starting to realise the impact clothes and textiles are having on the environment and it’s shocking, even something as small as a t shirt. There’s more about it here. Also Patrick Grant on the Sewing Bee said that there are currently enough clothes knocking about to last 6 generations! So I’m going to think twice before throwing something away.
Fortunately, it’s easy to alter a t shirt that’s too big, and it doesn’t take more than an hour or two. Here are the instructions in case you want to alter a t shirt yourself!
Instructions For Altering a T Shirt
You Will Need
The t shirt that doesn’t fit
A t shirt that does fit
Tailors’ chalk, a pen or a pencil
Usual sewing supplies
Take your t shirt and smooth out any creases. Then fold it in half.
Now take the t shirt that fits properly, smooth out the creases and fold it in half.
Pop the t shirt that fits on top of the one that doesn’t. Line up folded edges, the neck and the shoulders.
Draw round the t shirt that fits, leaving a seam allowance. This will probably involve cutting further up than the existing armpit area. We’ll sort the sleeves out in a minute!
You can decide at this point whether the t shirt is also too long, or whether you want to leave the length as it is. If you want to shorten it, draw the new hemline on the t shirt.
The sleeves are likely to be too wide as well, so draw underneath the sleeves of the smaller t shirt.
Cut the t shirt along the lines you have drawn.
On my t shirt, the shoulders were halfway down my arm! So the next job is to move the armhole. On the t shirt that fits, find where the sleeve meets the shoulder, and make a mark on the t shirt that’s too big.
Redraw the armhole on the big t shirt by joining up the new armpit with the mark you made at the top of the shoulder. The armhole should curve a little bit. If you’re not sure how much it should curve, have a look at the t shirt that fits and draw a line that’s similar.
Cut along the new armhole.
Now take the sleeve sections that are now no longer attached to the t shirt, and cut them away along the seam.
Check that the sleeve pieces are the same size. Find the centre of the seam edge. Match the centre to the shoulder seam and pin the sleeve to the open armhole. Sew the sleeve to the armhole. Do the same with the other sleeve.
Now pin the side seams and the under arm seams. Usually I would start at the armpit and sew the side seam, then go back to the armpit and sew the underarm seam.
You could start at the armpit, but if you are leaving sleeve length and hem length as they are, you might want to start at the hems instead to be sure of them matching.
Try the t shirt on and check the length of the t shirt and the sleeves. If they are still too long, decide how much you need to remove, cut it off and hem it.
And that’s it! Being stretchy, it will look fine even if you haven’t done a perfect job, providing that the obvious things like hems and sleeves match.
Your sewing machine probably has a stitch for sewing stretch knits. If it does, I’d use it. Otherwise use a zig zag.
Try to resist the urge to pull the fabric through the machine while it’s sewing! If the feed dogs appear to be struggling, you might need to take the bobbin section of your machine apart to clean the fluff out.
If you haven’t changed the needle for a while, it might be an idea to as a blunt needle will snag the fabric.
Jersey knits have a tendency to curl. My t shirt wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, but it did still curl a bit. I don’t really have any tips for this, just to check before you start sewing, or you’ll end up with bumpy seams.
If you like this post showing how to alter a t shirt, and upcycling and refashioning are your thing, you might like these posts.
This one shows how I refashioned a tea dress from something that was ghastly and didn’t fit at all into something wearable.
This post is about a top that I turned into a dress.
This post shows how to make a pair of toddler trousers from a man’s shirt.