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Sometimes there are shirts hanging in our closets that we don't wear because they are just a bit too large. It may be that the sleeves are too long, but more commonly, the shirt will be too wide to look fashionable. With just a few basic sewing skills, it is possible to taper the shirt to make it a size or two smaller and more attractive.

Button up the large shirt if it is a button-down shirt. Turn the shirt inside out. Lay the shirt on a flat surface.Turn the smaller shirt inside out and lay it on top of the large shirt.

Use the tailor's chalk to draw two lines, one on each side on the side seams on either side of the shirt. Draw the line 1/2-inch wider than the side seams on the smaller shirt. Remove the smaller shirt. Cut along the drawn lines with scissors.

Place the straight pins along the two cut seams, spacing the pins about 1 inch apart.Stitch the two side seams using a straight stitch on the sewing machine and matching colored thread. Clip the excess threads. Press the seams open.


If the sleeves of the shirt are too long, fold the ends over 1 or 2 inches and stitch in place with a straight stitch, 1 inch from the folded edge. Sew a second line of stitching once more around the sleeve, near the edge.


Do not leave pins and scissors where small children might pick them up.

About the Author

Freddie Silver

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.