How to Slim Down a Shirt | A DIY Refashion

It's been a good while since I took on a refashion so I revved that engine back up last week and finally started going through my small pile of to-be-sewns...the small pile that was a large pile before I counted my losses and donated half of the clothes before we moved last year.  Can't say I miss them...

Anyway, I found this shirt on a clearance rack at Target, oh, maybe two years ago, for something like $6.  I snatched it up even though it was two sizes too big for me because I loved the print and I knew I could easily take it in.  So, it went straight to the refashion pile.  Straight to that pile were it sat and sat...

I'm pretty sure I've written a tutorial on how to do this before but I'm also pretty sure it was a maternity top and I've gained some efficiency knowledge since then.  So, round two.  One of the easiest, beginner-level sewing things to do when you're talking refashioning shirts, is taking them in at the sides to fit you.  Really this is easiest with sleeveless shirts like the one I've got here today but sometimes you can follow up and along the sleeve of a shirt to get the same result with sleeved tops.  I'll make a mental note to do one of those someday too.

There are two easy ways to do this.  1)  Use a shirt you already have, and like the fit of, as a template or 2)  inch your way in little by little until you get the fit you want, following the existing edge.  For this post, I went the template route.

Things you'll need? 
Well, I wish I could slap a "no-sew" label on this one but alas, you'll need a sewing machine for this unless you're an Olympic hand seamstress.  If you're a beginner and just want to start slow and with straight lines, this Brother* is reasonable, has good reviews, and will do ya just fine for lots and lots of sewing projects.  This one* is even cheaper but without many stitch options.  If you've got a little bit of sewing skill under your belt or just want to jump in head-first and with a good machine, this one* is the newer model of mine.  I've had my dear Brother for oh, six or seven years now and LOVE it.  I've had zero problems with it.  It sews everything I've ever made and even embroiders so I've been able to make our Christmas stockings and then monogram them all with one machine.  Two thumbs way up.
You'll also probably need a sewing scissors* (I'd write "sewing" on it so no one thinks they can use it for anything else), a seam ripper* just in case, a sewing pencil* (I always use my kids' washable markers) and of course, a shirt that's too big on you.

Here's my shirt in it's original state:

It could've had a chance at flowy if the arm holes weren't the size of Texas on me.
To take it in, the first thing I did was turn it inside-out and lay it out as flat as I could, making sure the side seams were straight and flat.  
I still had some wrinkles in the fabric at the front because there was a little more fabric at the front of this shirt than at the back.  No big deal as long as I made sure those sides were lined up and flat.

Then I grabbed a shirt with a slim fit I like and laid it, inside-out, right on top of my dotted shirt.  I made sure to line the shirts up at the top (even though in the pic below they don't look very lined up...hasty picture-taking) and at the arm holes.

With everything all nice and lined up, I grabbed a washable marker and drew a dotted line along the side of the shirt that fit me, onto the too-big shirt.  Basically, I traced one shirt onto the other.

So then I had markings on the too-big shirt like so:

If you're a beginner, you might want to opt for a solid line vs. a dotted line just to keep you on track.

The places where two seams meet, in this case, at the bottom of the arm holes and the bottom of each side, tends to be bulky and not lay flat.  
It's annoying and doesn't help the marking or sewing process so, since they were coming off as I took this in anyway, I grabbed my scissors and just snipped each one off at an angle.  This allowed the side seams to lay perfectly flat.  I'd recommend doing this but I wouldn't snip until you know how much you're taking off the shirt lest you cut too much/take in too little.  I didn't document this well because it was an afterthought but you can see those corners snipped off two photos up and in the next photo.

Out came the pins next and into the flat side seam they went to hold everything in place.

There are lots of ways to stick pins but I just stuck them right through the dotted line and then removed as I was sewing; right before I hit the pin with the sewing needle.

And to my machine I went, armed with a straight stitch.  (Going into threading, starting and ending stitches, and all that sewing know-how will put me into novel status here but, if you need help, I learned a whole lot from YouTube many moons ago and it's all still there.  Search for tutorials using your specific machine.)

After sewing, it's always good to try the shirt on right-side-out to see how well it fits.  If you're not liking it and it needs to be taken in more or let out some, you can easily do either and can rip out the seam you just made.

Next, I had to finish off the hem.  I have a serger that does this for me but in the days before my serger, I'd have cut off the excess fabric until there was maybe a 1/2 hem and run a zig-zag stitch down the side to keep the now-cut edges from fraying.

Here's my serger in action:

If all looks good right-side out at this point, you're probably done.  The only other thing you might want to do is stitch the hem at the bottom of the arm holes and bottom of each side down.  To do that, you'd just run a straight stitch along the bottom of the arm hole and bottom hem maybe an inch or two just so it catches that new side hem and flattens it down.  I didn't do that so I didn't take any pictures but hopefully it makes sense!

That's the template route.  If you don't feel like tracing, you could always take in the shirt with a straight stitch a half inch in on each side, following along the existing seam, try on, and then repeat another half inch, try on, etc... until you've got your desired fit.  Your seams would look something like this...
The pink '1' line represents the first stitch you'd make and the yellow '2' stitch represents the second.  Obviously, there'd be 3, 4, and on stitches until you get to where you want to be.  :)

And then, once you've got the fit, you'd just cut off the excess and serge or zig-zag stitch to keep ends from fraying.

Here's my shirt fitting me properly and as worn to Mass last weekend:

AND, in case you're interested, Target doesn't sell this top anymore and Loft doesn't sell my fave pink pants but, I found them elsewhere along with some similar options:

Shirt: A New Day - Poshmark, Poshmark, similar
Cardigan:  similar* \\ similar*
And might I suggest that these shoes* (on clearance!) would look uber cute with this whole outfit (depending on the pink of your pants).  If they had them at my local store, I'd have made a quick run for them!

Questions?  Let me know!  Someday I'll get all video-savvy and we'll get some multimedia tutorials up in here.  ;)  

Happy Thursday!

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