How a Tailor Reduces a Shirt Size

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Tailoring a dress shirt for a proper fit is sometimes necessary.
Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

A tailor is an individual who alters the structure of an article of clothing, such as a shirt. The normal altering process to reduce the size of the shirt involves alterations in the neck, shoulders, chest, stomach area and arms of the individual. A single area or a multiple of areas for alterations is possible during the tailoring process.


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A tailor checks the collar to ensure it fits properly around the neck by having the individual button the shirt, including the top button. The collar should fit loosely around the neck with a minimum of one finger width and a maximum of two finger widths between the neck and the edge of the collar. Reducing the size of the collar requires removal of the collar fabric, sewing a larger seam, creating a dart in the shirt fabric and reattaching the collar to the shirt.



Reducing the width of a shoulder seams requires a tailor to first visually check the shoulder seam placement. The seam on the shirt should rest slightly to the outside of the outside edge of the shoulder by approximately 1/2 inch. The second area of concern is under the arm. The side seam of the shirt should rest approximately one inch from the side of the torso. This ensures the shoulder will not bind when the arm is lifted. A tailor will measure the distance the shoulder seam extends past the shoulder and the amount of fabric that is present under the arm. To measure the fabric under the arm, the tailor will ask the individual to hold there arm out on a horizontal axis. The side seam is pulled toward the extended hand so the opposite side seam is flush against the individual. The amount of excess fabric is measured and 2 inches is subtracted from the figure. For example, 5 inches of extra fabric is present under the arm. Subtract 2 inches for a total of 3 inches of fabric to remove to custom fit the shirt.



A tailor reduces the torso of a shirt with the same process used to measure the extra fabric under the arm. The fabric is continued to be pulled against the side of the body. Excess fabric measurements are taken at the waist and hips. The arms on the shirt are removed. The amount of excess fabric is divided between the two sides of the shirt. The fabric of the shirt is then cut to the required dimensions. For example, 3 extra inches of fabric requires 1 1/2 inches cut from each side of the shirt. The arm holes are cut in accordance with the shoulder dimensions. The sleeves are then reattached along with the sewing of the side seams.



The tailor measures the sleeves of the shirt so they rest between 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the first knuckle of the thumb. The amount of excess fabric is measured so the proper amount of fabric is removed. The cuff is removed from the shirt sleeve, the excess fabric is cut from the sleeve and the cuff is reattached.