shirt and pants tutorial

24 February 2011

Simon says he thinks people are getting annoyed with/tired of the alteration posts. He thinks perhaps a post about the wide array of my hair volumizing products might be more interesting (I have the most dull and lifeless locks in all of the land). I don't necessarily disagree with him but my bosom friend Jessica asked that I do a little alteration tutorial. I don't say no to bosom friends and agreed to do the tutorials and with all of this typed...I'm sure some people have already closed the window...most understandably. 
Shrinking shirts is incredibly easy even for sewing dummies like me and pants aren't too terribly difficult either. Hopefully this will help explain the processes a beeet:

Here is an American Apparel t-shirt I purchased recently with a Groupon. It is only a teeeeeny bit too loose so I'll only take that in a very little bit. As for the pants...they are obviously from my Nutella hoarding days...

we'll start from the bottom up with the pants. Necessary participants:
scissors (pinking shears are best but I don't have a pair), sharpie, pair of pants to be fixed and pair of pants you would like the pants to emulate/duplicate

begin by laying both pants bottom down (pants to be fixed need to be inside out) on a flat surface:
like so

Use the sharpie to trace the INSIDE of the top pant leg onto the fixer pants:
(I like to give a leeedle bit of space between the tracing and the top pants because you can always fix "too big" but it takes a LOT of seam ripping and cursing to fix "too small")

repeat on other leg

saddle the pants onto the sewing machine TOP of leg first. I start sewing RIGHT where all three seams meet so that I don't pull the back down and make lowwwwww rise pants

slowly pull away from the seem and start following the traced line

and keep going (you can start sewing inward at the knee if you want skinnier pants...or more outward if you want flares)

 Repeat on other leg (begin at the meeting of the seams like last time)

Now, cut the excess fabric (where those pinking shears would be nice to avoid fraying)
on both legs

let your very helpful little helper play with scraps:
try on!

If they are not sufficiently tailored...repeat process  (I had to repeat threeee times...but better than ruining the pants and making them too small with the initial tracing)

and onto the shirt!

fixer shirt, shirt to be copycatted, sharpie and scissors (and sewing machine that is not pictured)

Turn the fixer shirt inside out (muy important), lay the fixer shirt underneath the model shirt and line the collars up as best as possible and trace the top shirt from the BOTTOM of the sleeves down
just like that

head over to your anxious sewing machine and trace the lines...
 repeat on other side 

cut excess fabric
 try on!

(again...if too large...repeat and repeat again if necessary)

ta daaaaa
revel in all your altering glory

Confusing, crystal clear or somewhere in the murky waters in betwixt?


  1. totally just saw this. yes, crystal clear directions. you make it look really easy. i have feeling it's not. but i will try. also when you say 'start where all three seams meet' you mean both sides of the leg and the crotch? pry obvious but i just want to be sure.

    i will be attempting some shirts the first chance i get. thanks very much for this.

  2. and you do the same thing with your skirts and such? very excited to start.

  3. For my pants I did a french seam to minimize the fray factor. Sew your pants right side out (with a little wiggle room), trim the seam (preferably with pinking shears), flip them inside out and sew a new seam that encloses the raw edges. It keeps everything just a bit neater.

    I love that you're doing all these alterations! I need to check my closet for more options...

    Freckles in April | a modest clothing blog

  4. Thanks for this tutorial! I want to give this a try....I've always been so nervous, but your things turned out great!

  5. ok this I can handle! Yippee! I love everything you've done, Grace.

  6. wow! what a great post to share with us! i have a machine, but i've only used it once - to make shams. I really need to get back to it and play with it! this post is inspiring to do that!

  7. I'm so shrinking many things in my closet! ALthough do not have such great skills, you make it sound so easy, let's see what I can do! Great tutorial! xo

  8. who knew you were SUCH a sewer! you're going to inspire me to take out ALL MY PANTS and take them in (the "skinny" pants i have are NOT so skinny in the leg..when you have chicken legs.)

  9. Grace thank you for the tutorial! Loving this and going to work this weekend !!!! You are the best.

  10. Thanks for the tutorial. Seriously. Also, the first pic is a great graphic for the fact that a bad fit adds 20 lbs. it looks like your head is photoshopped onto someone else's body!



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