DIY Clothing Alterations: Taking in a Dress Shirt

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

  1. ktaatdotcom

    ktaatdotcom New Member

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  2. inlandisland

    inlandisland Senior member

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    While I know that it's heresy to even mention the name on SF, I feel that it's appropriate here to mention for Canadians that Moore's does this alteration for $10 (last time I checked, which was a couple of years ago). They don't do a felled or french seam, they just overcast the raw edges with a serger, so it's not as nice a finish, but it's very affordable and better than just getting darts in the back for the same price.
     


  3. Delosic

    Delosic New Member

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    This may be a silly question but I'm a beginner! Why is it necessary to rip the seams up the sides of the shirt and down the sleeves? Could you not size, pin, make the necessary top-stitch, and then go from there without tearing apart the seams?

    Also, do you have any tips for ripping a flat-felled seam? I am having a hell of a time getting mine apart!

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial inlandisland!
     


  4. rs232

    rs232 Senior member

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    You don't have to rip the side seam if there is sufficient seam allowance for your new seam. If not, and it's fine thread, and strong cloth, you can rip it by getting a start with the unpicking tool, and then just riipping it apart with your bare hands. Not recommended for a particularly nice shirt, though.


    This is right. Industrial flat-felled seams are done on a special machine that folds and stitches at the same time, wth a special post-type bobbin arrangement that allows the tube to pass under the hook race. Sew a flat felled side seam, including sleeve, with a single needle flatbed sewer, and you'll find out why this is a hard ask (especially a domestic machine with a zig-zag foot).
     


  5. inlandisland

    inlandisland Senior member

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    Yes - like rs232 said above, you don't need to rip the side seams at all if you have enough allowance as you'll just be cutting off the excess anyway. The ripping I did was at the hem and the cuff - these seams are finished after the side seam, so they need to be undone before you sew the side seam, then redone afterwards.
     


  6. Delosic

    Delosic New Member

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    Thanks so much for the help!
     


  7. Lucan

    Lucan Senior 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!
     


  8. inlandisland

    inlandisland Senior 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:
     


  9. xCrunchx

    xCrunchx Senior member

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    would just taking in the sleeves be a problem?
     


  10. inlandisland

    inlandisland Senior 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


  11. unclesam099

    unclesam099 Senior 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.
     


  12. 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
     


  13. 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
     


  14. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Senior 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)
     


  15. 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
     


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