Goodbye Boxy T-Shirts! (How To Very Easily Re-Size a T-Shirt)

Resize T-Shirt

Have you ever wondered what to do with those t-shirts that your kids bring home that are way too big for them?  You know what I am talking about, right?  Ball shirts, camp shirts, event shirts, and they are all really boxy and big on your kids?  Yep, we have that problem at our house.  I have two girls that are both very tall and skinny with long torsos.  The shirts that they are given for school events or buy at camp in the summer are always so big on them!  They look like they are just swimming in them.  The problem is that we can’t get a size smaller because then the shirts would be too short and their bellies would show.  That drives me nuts so we can’t have that.  I like for their shirts to be plenty long enough to cover their bellies and to even be a little on the long side just so we don’t have a sneak attack of the plumber’s crack or anything.  (Another issue is that they can’t keep their pants up even with the adjustable waists tightened but that’s another story for another day.)  I have found a very fun and easy way to fix this problem.  I have started using a very simple method for making their shirts a bit more fitted – not skin tight (we don’t want that either) but simply a little more fitted.  In fact, I also have the same problem with the way some shirts fit me (they get the long torsos from me) and have even used this method on a lot of my own shirts.  If you can manage to do a very basic stitch on a sewing machine, you can do this!

Here is what you will need to complete the project:

  • Your oversized shirt
  • Another shirt that fits exactly like you want the other one to
  • A pen or pencil that will wash out of fabric
  • A sewing machine threaded with thread to match the color of the shirt

T-Shirt Re-Size

I recently resized the pink shirt on the left in this picture for my oldest daughter who is eight years old.  It is a child’s size large.  The mediums are too short on her and this size large just swallows her up.  The first thing I did was to find a t-shirt in her closet that fits her really well.  This Mickey Mouse shirt is one of her favorites.  It’s not too big and not too tight, so it is the one I picked.   If anything, it is getting a bit short but definitely not too tight.

As you can see when I lay the Mickey shirt on top of the new pink camp shirt, the Mickey shirt is a more fitted shirt.  This is the look I am going for.

T-Shirt Resize

Next, I take the oversized pink shirt and turn it inside out.

T-Shirt Resize

Then, I take the Mickey shirt and lay it on top of the pink shirt.  I carefully line up the collar and top of the sleeves.  Then I make sure that everything is laying smoothly, the smaller shirt on top of the larger shirt, just like in one of my above photos.

Next, I take the fabric marking pencil and trace all the way around the fitted shirt onto the oversized shirt.

T Shirt Resize

Okay, so then I can set the Mickey shirt to the side.  I am done with it.  Then I took my marked-up oversized shirt to the sewing machine.  I set the machine to a simple straight stitch and then just stitched along the line I had traced on each side of the t-shirt.  I usually take in the sleeves a little bit too.  But that is up to you.  You may just want to stitch up to the corner where the sleeve meets the body of the shirt.  Either way works out fine.

Tshirt resize

Next, I turned it right-side out and made sure it looked good.  It did but because this shirt was exceptionally big on her, there was quite a bit of fabric on the inside seams.  So then I turned the shirt inside out again.  I grabbed my scissors and trimmed away some of the excess fabric .  I was careful to leave about ¼ inch of fabric along the seam.  Because this shirt is a jersey fabric, it won’t fray like other fabrics might.  If the shirt that you are resizing is a different fabric, you may want to consider not trimming the excess fabric away at all.  Most of the time, when I resize a shirt like this, I don’t trim along the seams because it usually doesn’t get in the way, but sometimes when there is quite a bit, like in this case, I do.

T Shirt Resize

T Shirt Resize

And voila!  I now have a more fitted camp shirt for my daughter to wear this summer.  It fits her nicely – it is no longer a big boxy shirt that she is swallowed by but it is also not too tight.  It just fits her perfectly and looks like it was custom made for her.  I love using this technique and hope you do too!

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Beth Cooper is a small-town girl from south-central Illinois. She has been happily married since 1999, has three little Mini Coopers, ages 9, 5, and 2, that keep her very busy and make her laugh. Her favorite cartoon is Little Bear and she has random people tell her that they love her thanks to the movie, “I Love You, Beth Cooper.” She is a homeschooling mama and a proud cancer survivor.

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