How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit

Quite often when I find a cute, too small shirt at the thrift shop, I just put it back on the rack. But when this fun, small, polka dot shirt was calling my name, I took it home with me anyway. The sleeves were way too tight and the buttons were stretched to their limits. Plus, it was leaving nothing to the imagination. Today, I’ll use this shirt to show you how you can do a few simple alterations to make a too small shirt fit much better.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Things You'll Need

  • Seam ripper

  • Needle

  • Thread

  • Fabric scissors

  • Iron

  • Lace or other coordinating fabric

  • Pins

  • Sewing machine

Step 1

The first thing you can do is remove the buttons on the sleeves with a seam ripper. Then resew them closer to the edge which will give your arms much more room to move.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)
How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 2

Then cut up the center back of the shirt, stopping when you get to the yoke.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 3

Press the raw edges under a half an inch.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 4

Find some pretty lace or coordinating fabric to insert into the back. If the fabric you use is from an old shirt you can make use of the existing hem and place that at the bottom of the shirt.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)
How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 5

With the right sides of both fabrics facing up, pin the coordinating fabric under the opening you made in the back.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 6

Sew down both sides of the opening, close to each edge.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 7

Trim the extra fabric from the inside of the shirt, and leave a half inch seam allowance.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 8

Now you not only have a shirt that fits and isn’t busting at the seams, but it’s pretty in the back, too.

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)
How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Before and after:

How to Resize a Too-Small Shirt to Fit
(Image: Beth Huntington)

So next time you’re thrift shopping and you come across a nice, but too small shirt, don’t wistfully hang it back on the rack, do what American poet, Emily Dickinson said and, “Dwell in Possibility” instead. It’s a great place to live!

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