Man Made DIY


00063

Feb 11, 2010

How To: Tailor a Button-Down Shirt for a Perfect Fit

created at: 2010/02/11

Men's shirts are sized in crazy ways - sometimes its sleeve length and neck dimensions, sometimes they're in chest dimesions (like a suit), and often, just the unpredictable small-medium-large. So, men, too, often have to buy for certain body measurements - length, sleeve, neck sizes, chest girth - and have other aspects not fit. It's why most men's button down shirts are baggy with big sleeves, and that weird muffin-top thing that billows out when we tuck them in.

So, next time you find that perfect vintage buttondown at the second hand shop, but it's flows around you like you're swimming in a gingham plaid Superman cape, pay the .99, take it home, and grab your sewing machine.

Materials

  • A baggy button down shirt - this works best with shirts that fit around the shoulders and chest, but are too big around the sleeves and sides/length
  • Mirror
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors

1).  Stand in front of the mirror, and/or get a friend to help you. Put on the shirt inside out, and button it from the inside.

2). This method is called the pinch and pin - so do just that. Begin with the sleeves and pinch the fabric until it's tight around your arm, but you still have full range of motion. Pin it from the cuffs to the arm pit.

3). Then do the same thing around your torso. Since most men's shirts do not have seams in the back, pull the excess towards the side seams, and pin from the arm pits to the waist.

4). Then, just sew a single stitch from the cuffs through the armpits, then down the sides. Sew just outside the pins, so that it doesn't get too tight and restrict movement.

created at: 2010/02/11

5). Flip it inside out, and throw it on. Done and done.

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Great tips. Especially, I sometimes got shirts from my brothers which don't fit perfectly! Another way of doing it is getting the measurement from your perfectly fitted shirt. I found the videos in Shirt Easy (http://www.shirteasy.com) very handle if you want to get the measurement from your shirt.

Hey Martin,

We wanted to connect to see if you'd like to do a q/a with Dudepins? Let us know [email protected]

HOLY SHIT. This worked wonderfully. Thanks so much.

This works for women's button up shirts, too. I buy a lot of thrift store stuff, but my size is hard to find (lol, my specs are 31-23-36, nothing fits ever) and I'm tired of swimming in my clothes. This worked wonderfully!

That looks pretty easy enough to do for someone with minimal sewing skills. Thanks. :)

Surprising post, your article is very useful for juniors like me thanks for sharing.

useful stuff something to definitely bookmark .

Hi everyone -

It's really awesome that folks are trying this out and its been working! We'd love to see some photos of your completed projects. You can send me a URL or an email at [email protected], and I'll be happy to post them here.

Thanks!

This is FANTASTIC!  I've finally gotten on a diet/exercise routice that works for me, and I've been avoiding buying new clothes because I know I'm going to shrink out of them, and now I can make the clothes I already have fit better until I hit my target weight.

@echoclerk

then don't sew through the cuffs. if you have stiffer cuffs, start pinching and pinning from where the cuff ends and the loose part of the sleeve begins (one layer of fabric). i find that the wrists are usually fine or have two buttons, but if the cuffs are too loose, move the button over.

i would also follow up these instructions with either removing the excess fabric with pinking shears, or if you only modify less than half an inch, at least clipping the excess in the armpit every inch or so to prevent constriction when its right side out.

this works great for skinny people like me, but you have to be careful that the shirt you select doesnt have large pockets; too drastic of a change will make your shirt front look pretty weird.

I wish those pins didn't keep stabing me in the arm

Thanks for the tip, i've just done this on an old short sleeve shirt, turning it from a 48" chest to a 40" with a tapered waist. It's come out rather well, but for such a drastic change I'm going to have to try and adjust the width of the shoulders too. A big point that the article missed is that you need to snip the seam of the excess material under the armpit otherwise the excess material will deform the shoulder.

You won't get it right first time, so you should stitch roughly the first time, adjust as necessary, then when you get it right, redo with a finer stitch.

And btw, unless you've got a really steady hand I wouldn't use this on expensive shirts!

@echoclerk

Right from the intro

"So, next time you find that perfect vintage buttondown at the second hand shop, but it's flows around you like you're swimming in a gingham plaid Superman cape, pay the .99, take it home, and grab your sewing machine."

Ha.. Seriously its a bit of a stretch to call this "Tailoring" - you just sewed through the cuff for gods sake!. A more accurate description might be - "a quick and dirty job to make a terrible shirt vaguely wearable".

 

I really would not try this method on anything expensive.. perhaps for a bad fitting second hand shirt.

 

...But... but... This seems way too easy!!  Could I do this with a nicer shirt?  Any downsides?

This treatment looks like it's for something you bought (or inherited) a size too big, so getting the right size is the best solution.

Sleeves are rarely too wide, but the torso may be, for boxy-cut shirts.  When that happens, do the 'pinch' in back - not on the sides.  Line it up with the top of each butt-cheek in an upside-down, long "V".  You'll get a much nicer look and more comfortable fit.

Thanks, Alyson. It totally works. I do it for nearly every secondhand item I buy.

I love this post.  My boyfriend always runs into this problem with shirts not fitting correctly for him.  I will definitely have to do this!

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