How to Tailor a Shirt

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How to Tailor a Shirt. Basic sewing skills will allow you to buy less expensive clothes and make them look like they were fashioned just for you. A shirt looks best when you tailor it to your shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Thread
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine

Measuring

Try on the shirt you want to tailor and decide which parts of the shirt need altered. Check the sleeve length, width and note where the shoulder seam is located in relationship to your shoulder.

Determine how you want to tailor your shirt. Ask a friend to help you pin the new seams to tailor your shirt.

Pull the sides of the shirt out to the sides while grasping the seams. Tell your friend where to put straight pins on each side of the body of the shirt for the new seams.

Grab one of the shirt seams downward from your outward extended arm, and have the person put pins in the sleeve to form the new seam. Repeat the process on the other sleeve, and measure how much sleeve length to remove.

Use a tape measure to find your body measurements, and use these measurements to determine where your new seams will go if you don't have a friend to help you pin your shirt. Measure the fullest part of your chest, midriff, waist and abdomen.

Place the measuring tape at the top of your shoulder to find the correct sleeve length. Go down to your small finger's knuckle and then subtract 1 1/2 inches from the length.

Lay one of your old tailored shirts on top of your new shirt for a third way to measure. Place straight pins in the shirt to mark the new seams.

Sew the Shirt

Sew the new seams on the inside of the shirt. Start stitching on the existing seams just under the arms and gradually taper the seam inward at the waist and flare it out toward the bottom.

Clip the seams to ¼ inch. Finish the seam by putting the raw edges together and sewing with a zigzag stitch along the edge of the material.

Remove the cuff if the sleeve is too long, and cut the bottom of the sleeve material to the correct length. Pin and sew the cuff onto the shirtsleeve.

Take the stitches out of the shirt at the shoulder if the seam hangs down the arm past the shoulder. Adjust, pin and sew the sleeve in the armhole so the seam is in the proper place at the shoulder.

Wait to sew the sleeve onto the shirt if the sleeve needs tapered. Sew directly on the seam at the armpit and gradually work into the new seam you pinned to taper the circumference of the sleeve.

Pin and sew the sleeve into the armhole at the correct position. Finish the sleeve seam edges as you did the seams in the body of the shirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't adjust the shoulder if the sleeve length from the shoulder to the hand is correct or the sleeve will end up too short.

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