Refashioning:Cutting Down a Women’s Tee

The fit of the original tee. I forgot to turn the flash off so the image is spotty as the light bounced off the mirro. This is the size tee I would have to buy in RTW and you can see that the fit is dumpy. Going down a size is not an option, as then the t-shirt is too small.

Some home-sewers don’t see why anyone would bother to make a t-shirt.  They are cheap and not worth your time they contend.

Experience has taught me to go against this advice.  After I became plus-size cheap tees were no longer flattering, and the good ones were no longer cheap.

Though I do understand that sewing your own can be a lot of time for a t-shirt, especially when you might garden in it. 

That got me to thinking, what if I could take thrift store tees, and with a few quick alterations, make them bearable?

Here is my first try.  This is a peachy-pink tee off of the 99 cent clearance rack at my local thrift store.  I purposely choose it because it is a bit oversized for me, it was in my chosen color palette for spring, and of course, because it was dirt cheap. 

As you can see this shirt has a matronly look, as do most RTW tees that I find.  Usually plus-size clothes that fit around my waistline, are oversized and dumpy at the neckline.  You can see that the shoulders are a bit big, though being a crew neck for once the neckline fits.

I began by concentrating on the side seams.  Starting right under the arm I took them in, curving in at the waist and back out slightly towards the hemline. 

I am wearing the shirt inside out so you can see how much I took in the side seams.

Next, another bugaboo about plus-size tees – they are usually REALLY long.  As my upper hip measurement is larger than my lower, a hem sitting tightly so far below my widest part just highlights my figure irregularity.  I hemmed. 

Most of the time I don’t mind sewing on my daughter’s Hello Kitty machine, but in hemming knits, it is not at its best.  I turned the fabric under one inch and used a wide zig-zag sewing from the top.  The wide zig-zag looks surprisingly similar to a standard RTW coverstitch if the onlooker doesn’t look to closely.  The bad thing is that the zig-zag has a tendency to pull the fabric.  I used washable solvy on the bottom but that did not totally eliminate waving.  (Though some of the wave might be caused by the unwashed-out solvy itself.)

The hem is wavy which is disappointing but I haven't washed out the solvy yet.

The Results

A serviceable if not very cool t-shirt. The shoulders are still a bit large but that alteration was more than the shirt is worth.

Meh.  I am going to try a few more.  Maybe a certain style of tee works better than others, or I have yet to learn a better technique.  The good thing to refashioning is that no time is spent working on a finished collar.  However, there seems to be a limit to how much can be changed in a garment. 

Well, on to the polos.  I am still working on cutting down men’s polos to fit me. 

Next Post:  Tuesday, January 25, 2011:Cutting down men’s polos into women’s – will it work?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tanit-Isis
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 10:07:53

    I like making tees… But then you know that 🙂

    It certainly looks 100% better! Next time I think you’ll have tackle the shoulder fit, though. I know it can be done ;). Also I think the sleeve length is pretty boring—I would shorten it, but I guess that depends on your relationship with your arms :).

    Still, vast, vast improvement!


  2. Sister
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 16:29:29

    Holy cow – it does look totally different – I agree, “dumpy” in the first photo and actually much better fitting in the next, and does so much more for your figure! It’s like those 2 dresses I made where the first was a wrap in stripes and I looked dumpy with a huge gut, then a different style and fabric made my figure look much better.


  3. Ellen
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 23:41:22

    This is timely. I’m about to refashion a t-shirt for a friend. The tee is a man’s XL. The friend is a small. I’m definitely going to have to work on the shoulders. She gave me a tee shirt that has a fit she likes to compare. I’ll let you know how it goes.


  4. Connie
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 14:22:25

    I bought the T-Shirt Makeover Pattern from Clotilde catalog ($7.98 for pattern. A DVD is also available for $15.98). The pattern fits a high bust measurement of 31 to 45″ but I think it could be easily altered if you need more room. Best money I ever spent. Like you, she reshaped the waistline and the length, but also shows how to recut the shoulder. And, if you’re so inclined, you can also change the neckline. If I put my mind to it, I can do a T-shirt in 30 minutes. FYI, I have no connection to Clotilde or the pattern designer. I just like the method.


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