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Stretch That Shirt's Life! An Easy Makeover for Outgrown Tees

January 18, 2011

We've all got them: tees that don't fit. Whether it's a cute little babydoll you bought hoping to lose enough weight to wear it, a Transformers tee your kid loves but simply can't squeeze into, or the delightful spouse's old college tee that he still treasures but can't get over his head, it's way too easy to accumulate a pile of clothing that's just too small.

Fear not! There's always a way to make it work.

My solution to the too-tight tee: augmenting with side panels! Here's how:

1. Carefully cut the side seam of your tee, from the lower hem right up to the hem of the sleeve. If your shirt has side seams, this is easy peasy. If it doesn't have side seams, lay it flat and mark the sides before cutting.

Once both sides are clipped, you should be able to spread the shirt out flat, more or less.

2. Using a fabric with 25% stretch across the grain (or more), cut two strips along the grain long enough to run the distance from the lower hem to the sleeve hem, plus a little extra - 1-2" - for finishing. I usually leave a ridiculous amount of extra length and trim it after I've inserted the strips into the tee.

The width of the strips will vary depending on how much width you wish to add to your garment. For this particular project, my strips were about 2.5" wide.

3. Sew the strips into the side of your tee, leaving enough to hem at each edge.

4InsetStripsAtSides.jpg4. Hem up your strips at the sleeves and lower edge, and ta-daaaaaaaa! Put on your newly renovated shirt!


A few additional thoughts and tips:

- You will likely discover rather quickly that most tee shirts are not blocked to sit perfectly square. There's often a little bit of twist or skew to them. Don't sweat it. Just line things up as squarely as you can, and go for it! The human body isn't square - nobody will notice if your tee-shirt's seam is a little off.

- You have an opportunity to be a designer with this project just like any other. Choose a contrasting color like the sample for a sporty, color-blocked look, or match the color of the tee shirt for an almost invisible expansion.

- Have multiple tees that aren't in the wearing rotation? If one of them has fallen out of favor, you might be able to use pieces of it to rescue another shirt - check and see if it's a potential donor!

- Remember, no matter what anyone says, you can never, EVER have too many tees. Keep and recycle them if you love them!

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Love this ... I've been modifying my shirts for a while but mostly adding on to the bottom! Thanks!

This is great! I've thought about trying it, but with limited time, I have to pick and choose and this didn't make it to the top of the "see what happens" list. THANK YOU for showing us how easy and cool this project is.


I love it! That is such a great idea. I'm in the category with those who plan to lose weight and fit into them.

Wow! That's really nice -- I've recycled a few old clothes with your little trick. Thank you very much; you make it very easy.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on January 18, 2011 1:18 PM.

Spring time knitting with Cotton Yarn was the previous entry in this blog.

Knitting in Small Diameter: Magic Loop is the next entry in this blog.

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