What are some ways to shrink shirts

How to make a shirt smaller

Shirts that are the right design but not the right fit can be a problem. Making a shirt smaller is an easy way to give a design you love one more chance to fit just right. With or without sewing, you can make a shirt smaller so that it hugs your curves in all the right places.

Method one of three:
Shrink a shirt

  1. 1 Soak the shirt in hot water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Boiling hot water will pull the fibers of the shirt together, making it shrink smaller. If you want to downsize a shirt as much as possible, high heat is the best way to go.
    • Take the pot off the stove.
    • Dip the shirt in the hot water. Use a spoon to slide the shirt all the way under the water to make sure it is completely covered by the water.
    • Soak the shirt for 30 minutes.
  2. 2 Wash the shirt in hot water. Set your washing machine on the hottest water. Wash the shirt regularly. If you've bought a new shirt and want to shrink it before wearing it, rinse the shirt on hot hair, tighten the fibers and reduce the size slightly.[1]
    • Hot water can cause some fabrics to leak or fade. Wash the shirt alone to avoid damaging other clothing.
    • The movement of the washing machine in top load machines causes fabric puckering and greater shrinkage than a front load machine.
  3. 3 Dry the shirt on high heat. Put the shirt in the dryer and dry it on the hottest setting of the dryer. The heat will shrink the shirt a little. With the exception of wool fibers, the dryer won't shrink clothing as much as hot water. If you want to shrink your shirt just a little, wash it in cold water and dry it on the highest setting.
    • Warmth will shrink synthetic blended fabrics more than pre-shrunk natural fiber clothing.
    • Wool fabrics are felt in the dryer, which causes the fabric to contract and shrink as individual fabrics rub and stick together.

Method two of three:
Tailor a t-shirt

  1. 1 Get an old shirt that fits nicely. Choose a shirt that is the right fit, but you are no longer wearing it. They are going to cut this shirt to use as a pattern.[2]
    • Choose a shirt that fits exactly how you want the new shirt to be.
    • Make sure it is not a shirt that you enjoy wearing as you will not be able to wear it after making it a pattern.
  2. 2 Remove the sleeves from the pattern shirt. Cut the seams that connect the sleeves to the shirt. Open the sleeves into a flat piece of fabric by cutting along the seam at the bottom of the sleeve.[3]
  3. 3 Cut the side seams on the sample shirt. Carefully cut the seams on both sides of the shirt. You'll leave the shoulder seam and collar intact to create a pattern from the old t-shirt.
  4. 4 Cut the seams of the shirt you want to make smaller. Remove the sleeves by cutting along the seam. Cut the side seam of the shirt.
    • Open the sleeves into a flat piece of fabric by cutting along the seam of the sleeve.
  5. 5 Lay the shirt out flat. Put the shirt on a table and flatten it.
    • Lay the pattern shirt on top of the shirt you want to resize.
    • Align the neck holes on the two shirts.
    • Pin the pattern shirt to the larger shirt to keep it in place.
  6. 6 Cut the shirt smaller. Cut ½ inch outside the edge of the pattern shirt. You will be leaving the extra half inch of fabric to create the new seam.[4]
    • Cut the sleeve to match the size of the sample sleeve. Leave an extra ½ inch when you cut the sleeve to size.
    • Cut along the bottom of the shirt to shorten the length of the shirt if desired to match your pattern shirt.
  7. 7 Pin the sleeve to the shirt. Take the flattened sleeves and attach them to the shirt with straight pins.
    • Attach the edge of the cuff to the front of the shirt with the outside of the fabric facing the front of the shirt.
    • Keep the sleeve flat to secure it to the shirt.
  8. 8 Sew the sleeves to the shirt. Use a serge or zigzag stitch to join the sleeve to the shirt. A straight stitch will not work on knitted fabrics.
    • Use a thread that matches the color of the shirt.
    • Place the shirt and sleeves under the presser foot and sew the fabric together.
  9. 9 Sew the sides of the shirt. Fold the shirt to turn it over and sew the side of the shirt. Start at the sleeve and sew the sides of the shirt on both sides.[5]
    • Use a sewing machine with thread that matches the color of the shirt to sew the side seams back together.
    • Hold the shirt inside out as you sew the seams to keep the seams on the inside when wearing the shirt.
  10. 10 Sew the bottom hem of the shirt. With the shirt inside out, fold the bottom of the shirt over 1 inch. Fold the fabric so that the outside is creased to form a hem that goes inside the shirt when the right side is facing out.
    • Use a sewing machine to create the hem at the bottom of the shirt while the shirt is turned inside out.
  11. 11 Press the seams with an iron. Use an iron to smooth the fabric along each of the new seams you created.
  12. 12 Try out your new shirt. Your shirt should now match the fit of your sample shirt. Save the pattern shirt to make additional shirts smaller.

Method three of three:
Changing the fit of a shirt

  1. 1 Tie the back of the shirt in a knot. Create a tighter fitting shirt by tying the back of the shirt in a knot.
    • Pull the fabric together behind your back.
    • Twist the lower part of the shirt.
    • Tie a knot at the bottom of the shirt.
  2. 2 Use safety pins to secure the shirt in place. Pinch the fabric at the back of the shirt. Use safety pins to connect the bundled fabric along the back of the shirt.
    • Attach the safety pins to the inside of the shirt to hide them under the garment.
    • Wear a blazer or sweater over the fixed shirt to hide your quick fix.
  3. 3 Cut off the lower part of the shirt. Create a sporty half-tee by cutting the bottom half of the shirt. You can leave the hem unsewn or create a new hem after cutting off the bottom of the shirt.
    • Wear a tank top or t-shirt under your cut-off for a layered look or for modesty.