If you have a favourite t-shirt that’s a little too small to wear comfortably, or just doesn’t fit quite right anymore, you don’t have to toss it or donate it. Here are four simple methods to loosen it up or size it up so you can wear it again.
The method you use depends on what you want to preserve about the shirt, your level of sewing skill, and what you want the shirt to look like.
Add Slits: This is a no-sew technique and preserves the whole shirt, so if you have one that’s made of really comfy material, this is a good option. This is the first example in the video in the link below, but you can cut a vertical slit down the front from the neckline, remove the sleeves and cut bigger armholes, or cut slits up the side for a looser fit, it’s up to you.
Combine With Another Shirt: You need to be able to sew in a straight line, and this method will be easier if you have sewing machine. Thrift or buy a plain t-shirt that’s similar in colour to the shirt you want to size up. Cut the arms off the original shirt and cut down the side seam to separate the back and front. Cut wide strips from the plain shirt and sew them between the front and back of the original shirt. Trim around the armholes. You can also use fabric glue instead of sewing, but the look won’t be as clean and the shirt won’t be as durable.
Transfer the Design: If you mainly want to preserve the imagery on the shirt and have medium sewing skills, this is a fitting technique for you. Cut around the image, leaving an inch or two as a buffer. You’ll end up with what is essentially a large patch. Sew the patch to a new, larger shirt in the same colour as your original shirt. Again, you can use other attachment methods like fabric glue, but they won’t hold up as well over time as sewing.
Make New Sleeves: This technique requires medium sewing skills since you’ll be creating new sleeves and sides to attach to the original shirt. Buy fabric that is similar in colour to your original shirt, or use another shirt you already have, and trace a pattern for sleeves and sides that will end up connecting the front and back of the original shirt. Cut the arms off the original shirt and cut down the side seam. Sew each side and sleeves together, then sew to the original shirt.
The last two techniques are best suited for dark coloured shirts where the thread will be less noticeable. You can always practice on an old shirt or a cheap thrifted shirt before cutting up your treasured tee. Check out the full video in the link below for a visual step-by-step walkthrough of each technique.