How To Take In A Shirt

One skill that would be of use to many fashion-minded men is how to take in a shirt. Maybe you have been dieting and losing weight. Or, perhaps you are an odd size, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Learning how to take in a shirt allows you to have that luxurious custom-tailored look without the obscene tailor bill. The method below can be used for collared dress shirts, T-shirts or polo shirts.

To take in a shirt, you will need:

  • A shirt
  • A seam ripper
  • Chalk or a water-washable marker
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine

Follow these steps to take in a shirt and make it fit like it was custom made:

  1. Turn the shirt inside out and put it on. Carefully pin it or mark with chalk to show where it needs to be taken in. Make sure that the marks you make to take in the shirt are an equal distance from the existing seams. You may need to have someone help you with this part. You can also use a mirror to help you measure.
  2. If you are going to need to take in a shirt all the way up through the torso, you will need to remove the sleeves. This can be done with a seam ripper. Gently pull out the seams and then remove all the stray threads.
  3. Making room for a 1/2 inch seam allowance, cut your shirt along the lines where you need to take it in. Make sure that the front and back of the shirt are even. You will probably want to pin the shirt to keep everything even and together.
  4. If you removed the sleeves, you will need to pin them back on now. Make sure that the top of the sleeve is pinned evenly with the top of the shoulder. Be especially sure that you are pinning the right sides (that is, the front of the fabric) together so that you don't wind up with inside-out sleeves when you are done.
  5. With the right sides together, sew your shirt along the new seams. Go slowly so that your seams stay straight and even. You may want to reinforce your new seams using a zig zag stitch when you are done taking in your shirt.
  6. Neaten up your work. Trim the seam allowance so that it is around 1/4 inch from the seam. Trim off any stray threads or frayed edges. Make sure that there are no puckers or gaps.

Helpful tips:

If there are a lot of bits of thread to remove, you can use a loop of scotch tape to lift them off.

If you sew a seam that is crooked or that puckers up, just use the seam remover to pull out the old stitches and redo it. Relax and don't worry about it. Things do not always come out right the first time when you take in a shirt.

If you are not sure how fitted you want your shirt to be, take in the shirt only a little at first. You can always remove a bit more if the shirt is too roomy, but you can't add fabric back if you cut too much.

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