Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From XXL to medium: Men's shirt tutorial

Many people have been asking me to get onto men's clothing, mostly my guy friends and readers. It's something I haven't done much of, aside from tailoring or mending. While I've made custom clothing a handful of times, nothing serious, and nothing recently. I think it's finally time to start with men's clothing professionally. This is my first tutorial and real attempt at something a man will actually wear.

Walter and I were at Every thing's $1 on Washington Road last Saturday. It's like a really bad Salvation Army, with no air conditioning and the most random things you will ever find. I've bought everything from new vintage sunglasses to Magnavox camera straps to repurpose for fanny packs. When Walter saw this shirt he said he loved the plaid pattern but it was clearly not his size. So we decided he'd be my model and I'd repurpose it, and cut it down to his size and make it something he'd wear all the time.

Any similar project would be quite simple for a slightly experienced sewer. The sleeves were the hardest part. Sewing on curves can be tricky for someone who has never done it before. But the whole thing wasn't very difficult. I cheated by having Walter bring over one of his button down shirts that he wears all the time, using it for a reference and pattern.

Start by cutting off the sleeves. Set them aside.

Turn it inside out, still buttoned, and lay your pattern shirt over top of this, lining it up at the collar and buttons. Cut the sides leaving a seam allowance.

After sewing the sides, I checked to see how it fit. I hadn't yet cut into the shoulders to make new armholes. Do this next. I layed the shirt over top of the new, smaller shirt and carefully lined up the armholes, cutting them the same, be sure to leave a seam allowance here too.

Now to cut out new sleeves from your long sleeves. Lay the shirt over the sleeves you set aside earlier. I cut them longer to leave fabric for the cuff (pictured later).

Your new sleeve, cut another and close the bottom.

Attach the sleeve to the shirt. Line up the seams, pin at the armpit and top of the shoulder. This can be tricky to sew. If the fabric doesn't line up the armhole and sleeve are not the same size. Have a seam ripper handy just in case.

Sew the cuffs of the sleeve. I did a 1/4 hem, then carefully folded the sleeve to give it a 1 1/2" fold on the outside of the sleeve. Then I top stitched along the edge.

Now the only remaining step is sewing the bottom hem. I used a 1/4" rolled hem and followed the length of the original shirt, shorter on the sides and longer in the front and back. The end result was a perfect
The end result looked great, and Walter loved it! The fabric is super soft and short sleeves make it perfect for the fall weather in Georgia.

Now onto the rest of the women's dresses I have cluttering up my room. Still getting ready for Arts In The Heart. It's coming up so fast! Have a great day everyone!

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  1. That is very cool. Nice tutorial. cute model too.
    Can you do a tutorial how to embelish bluejeans with patches?

  2. This is amazing! Honestly, Sally - you have a gift at repurposing clothing!! I honestly think you should do it full-time and just sell all the clothes! :)

  3. Hello anonymous readers.. I can do that tutorial.. keep checking back. I'll find some awesome pants to embelish.

    Thanks Tieka! I wish I had more time to sew at home, having two other jobs makes it hard to find time. I have a ton of women's clothing I'm getting ready to post! And still working on that piece for you!

  4. Totally incredible...I am inspired to sew. love.


  5. This is a great way to have great looking men's clothing to fit better!

  6. Hey Dude,

    This is a very classy mens shirts! What s great idea next time I see one in a charity shop I may get it and make it for my brother.

    Collar Stays

  7. I am really impressed with your talent Sally! :D My grandmother sews, but we moved here and i never had a chance to learn (now I am short on time). I love your blog however!

  8. Ever consider adding darts to the back of men's shirts that otherwise fit? I want to try for my super-slender boyfriend, but I'd love a tutorial first. I can't seem to find one anywhere!

    1. I would have added darts, Georgia, but since it was a plaid shirt, I didn't want to disrupt the pattern. Had it been a plain shirt, definitely darts. I'll see if I can come up with another tutorial for you in the near future :)

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  10. Great! what an Idea have great looking Cheap Mens Shirts to fit better!

  11. I cheated by having Walter bring over one of his button down shirts ... womensbuttondownshirts.blogspot.com

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    Children's dress shirts

  13. This was a great tutorial... right up to where you cut the sleeves off to make a short sleeved shirt. I wanted to keep the long sleeves on my project... the shirt what just too good and too wintery to lose the sleeves. I guess I'll just "wing it" - a long straight angled slope from armpit to the cuff. Thank you anyway.