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DIY Clothing Alterations: Taking in a Dress Shirt

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by inlandisland, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Delosic

    Delosic New Member

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    Mar 27, 2012
    Thanks so much for the help!
     
  2. Lucan

    Lucan Well-Known Member

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    I've been lurking on the forums for a while and have registered just to post my thanks to you. I did this at the weekend after a bit of training on the sewing machine from my father-in-law (who used to make a lot of clothes himself), and it was really straightforward.

    A few points from my experience:

    - I started with a french seam, and then sewed it flat along the body of the shirt so it looks like a flat felled seam. This was easy, but when I tried along one sleeve it was a nightmare. Wearing the shirt, I can't tell the difference between the two sleeves so I'd just run with French seams in the sleeves in future, and sewn down French Seams in the body.

    - I didn't rip any seams at first to see if I could get away with it. I'm perfectly happy with not ripping the hem as it looks fine (especially as you can't see it), but definitely needed to rip the cuffs to get a decent finish.

    - Pins are great, and a bit a tailor's chalk is good as well.

    - Scissors on Swiss Army knives make good stitch rippers if you're careful.

    Thanks again, I'm now digging out old shirts I haven't worn in a while!
     
  3. inlandisland

    inlandisland Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome - I'm glad that you've given it a try. Keep it up and soon you'll be making your own clothes - sounds like you have a mentor!
    :nodding:
     
  4. xCrunchx

    xCrunchx Well-Known Member

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    would just taking in the sleeves be a problem?
     
  5. inlandisland

    inlandisland Well-Known Member

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    Taking in just the sleeves can be tricky because at some point you are going to get to the felled seam that the shirt came with. If you run a straight stitch over the felled seam you will end up with something that looks messy. It's hard to explain, but if you do it, you'll see. To avoid this, you would have to undo the felled seam anyway. Any time you are sewing and you are approaching an existing seam, you should proceed with extreme caution.

    This might be a good question for the tailor's thread if you have a pic of the shirt in question.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  6. unclesam099

    unclesam099 Well-Known Member

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    This is something I am curious about as well. I have some "slim fit" shirts that are slim enough in the sleeves but the body needs to be taken in. I'd like to know how to deal with a felled seam and re-making it after blending into it or similar.
     
  7. Jeremyn

    Jeremyn Well-Known Member

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    Bump, I know, but I wanted to ask OP something.
    First of all, thanks for the in depth tutorial.

    I'm planning on trying this out, but before I do, I wanted to ask something.
    If I do my first stitch right sides together, then is it possible to do the second stitch with the wrong sides together and have it look like the typical flat felled seams found on dress shirts? It just seems like the main difference would be an additional layer of fabric, which shouldn't be too problematic, would it?
    Any input is appreciated
     
  8. sewmany

    sewmany New Member

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    Thanks for the post.
    What if shoulders of a shirt are too big? Worth altering, or best to give it away and buy new? Cheers
     
  9. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure the tailoring guys will chime in, but just as a guy who's taken shirts to a tailor before, I'll say that in my experience there are a few areas of a shirt that it's much harder to adjust. If the collar doesn't fit you, if the shoulders are too wide, and if the armholes are too high or low, I find those are some areas where there are always problems. So in my experience, wide shoulders plus narrowing the arms = problems (ie a funny fitting shirt)
     
  10. Jeremyn

    Jeremyn Well-Known Member

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    So I've done this with quite a few shirts. I do a french seam and then stitch it down from the wrong side (it does have a slight appearance to a flat felled seam, and most people wouldn't notice the difference).
    As far as theprevious 2 posts go; if the shoulder doesn't fit, don't bother. The back will look awful.
    The armhole isn't as big a problem if it's too low. I've successfully taken them in. Lowering the armhole, however, is impossible since there's not enough fabric in the seam allowance
     
  11. sewmany

    sewmany New Member

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    Jan 13, 2015
    Thanks guys.

    What's the difference between "shoulders too wide" and "arm holes too low". I notice on on good fitting shirts, the upper seam of the sleeves seems to be in line with the outer edge of the shoulders.

    Whereas on a big shirt, the sleeves seem to start lower down the arm. The sleeves have fallen off the shoulders cos the shirt body is too big. Is this classified as "shoulders too wide" and "arm holes too low"?
     
  12. Jeremyn

    Jeremyn Well-Known Member

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    Yes for the shoulders
    For the arm holes, look at the seam by your armpit where the shoulder and side seams intersect. I haven't had any problem taking it in around an inch. Never tried raising it more than that, so I can't comment on how it would affect the alteration
     
  13. luckyleeny

    luckyleeny New Member

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    Nov 9, 2015
    I have a question about the cuffs, if anyone even still reads this thread: how do you take in the side seams and end up with cuffs that still fit and are not all bunchy from the lack of sleeve fabric? Thanks!
     
  14. Ataturk

    Ataturk Well-Known Member

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    You can taper the sleeve so it's still the original width at the cuff, or you can remove sleeve material all the way down the seam; or you can fold more material into the pleats at the cuff.
     
  15. Jeremyn

    Jeremyn Well-Known Member

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    There should be about 3-4cm of excess fabric at the end of the sleeve from the pleats. So just take in as little fabric as possible from a few inches beforehand
    (Just be mindful that you will be taking the shirt.in an additional half an.inch again when you take it in from the wrong side to make your french seam).
    Worst comes to worst, if you accidentally take in too much, take in the cuff from the center. Just do it on the wrong side of both pieces, so you have to spread them apart. Then press the seam open (preferably cut the "loop" so it's not like a dart), fold them back.together, and reattach it to the sleeve
     
  16. Scarlet

    Scarlet Well-Known Member

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    I have another question about the cuffs: If you only partly detach them, how do you reattach them without having your new stitching overlapping your old?
     
  17. Jeremyn

    Jeremyn Well-Known Member

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    Overlapping old stitching isn't a problem. Just make sure the colors of the threads are the same, or at least very similar. If the sides are chain stitched, you can actually unravel the threads really easily and use that thread to reattach the cuffs, since it's usually the same thread.
    It won't really be noticeable. The stitching won't even match the original anyway, since the stitch length will likely be a little different.
     
  18. trumpisachump

    trumpisachump New Member

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    I know this is a really old post, but it's still floating atop the Google searches, likely because it is a really good post. Nice job!

    That being said, I feel I need to add something for anyone who is trying this.

    I am in the process of taking in one of my dress shirts as described in this post.The shirt is baggy in the arms and at the waist, quite similar to the one shown. The collar, arm length, chest size, and shirt specification are as I desire.

    As I was pinning the shirt near the arm hole, it occurred to me that if I pinch off the arm hole as you did, I will lose chest size in the shirt and it will become too small.

    I feel that I should alert users that if you need to alter BOTH the arm width and the waist width, without losing chest size, this method will most likely not work for you. However, if you need to do only one of the two alterations, it will do fine.

    Again, nice post with lots of good, sound, well-thought out detail. I really wish I could use it to my advantage with my current garment. [​IMG]
     

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