I love geeky t-shirts. Since my standard form of dress is usually jeans and a t-shirt, about 90% of my wardrobe is tees that relate to my fandoms. However, I often run into the problem that the shirts I want only come in mens sizes. I like a good mens tee sometimes – they are super comfy and go great with sweatpants for a day around the house. But for a day wear I have to actually interact with other human beings, I like my shirts to be at least somewhat fitted! I’m not hugely into fashion, but I certainly appreciate a flattering cut. So I came up with a mod!
Full disclosure: I am NOT a seamstress, and probably the worst DIYer ever. More often than not my philosophy for DIYing is ‘wing it’, and that is no different in this case. However, I have used this method many times and it has always worked out for me! Even after multiple, multiple washings. 😉
What you’ll need:
A t-shirt to mod. If it’s your first time, I recommend getting a practice shirt. When I first did this, I used $.99 shirts from the thrift shop to practice on.
A tee shirt that fits you. Everyone has that one tee that fits just perfectly, right? Grab that one.
A basic sewing machine. I use only a straight stitch for the mod, and then a basic zig-zag stitch for ‘finishing’.
Thread that matches your tee
Fabric scissors. Or very sharp scissors if you don’t have a pair dedicated to fabric.
Step 1: Pinning
My hubs surprised me with this fantastic Lying Cat tee (from Saga, which if you haven’t read, GO DO THAT) and I knew I needed it modded immediately so I could wear it all the time. Because Lying Cat is the best. Enough fangirling though, tutorial time!
Turn the shirt you are modifying inside out and lay it on a flat surface.
Then, take the shirt you picked that has your favorite fit, and turn it inside out. Place it on top of the shirt you’re modding so that the neck holes line up. Don’t worry if the shoulders are different – they probably will be. And just in case you wanted to know, the fitted shirt I picked is actually one I snagged at an Ingrid Michaelson concert in 2012. It is still the best fitting, comfiest tee I own.
Once your fitted tee is placed on top of your modding tee, start pinning the edges of the modding tee. See where we’re going with this? You are basically mimicking the fit of your already perfectly fitting tee. Don’t feel you have to pin directly up against the tee like I did. Wiggle room is always a good thing as you can always make things tighter if need be.
Pin from arm holes all the way to the bottom, flaring out a bit if you wish – I did, as the Lying Cat tee is quite long, and I wanted to make sure it didn’t end up too tight over my hips.
Step 2: Sewing
Once pinned, it’s time to bust out the sewing machine. I own an extremely basic Singer Tradition machine. As you can see, it has your basic stitches, and that’s it. I think I got it for about $98 at Joannes. Also, I couldn’t stand it being just plain white so I tattooed it with a Sharpie, and added fun stickers! 😀 The settings you see here are what I use for my straight stitch, nearly all of the time.
Once your proper thread is loaded in, it’s time to start sewing! Using a basic straight stitch, sew until you reach the armpit seam, and stop.
Take the shirt off the machine, and turn it so you are now sewing in from the armhole. Still using the same straight stitch, sew in along the arm pins until you meet your previous stitch at the armpit seam. I think this is actually the trickiest part, and it’s what I practiced most. If your stitches don’t line up in the armpit seam area, you can end up with little gaps once it’s turned right side out – don’t worry if that happens; it’s entirely fixable with a quick hand stitch.
Repeat all of this for the other side.
Step 3: Try It On!
Now that you have both sides sewn, before doing anything else to the shirt, turn it right side out and try it on. You want to make sure you have the right fit before you start cutting.
Step 4: Cutting and Finishing
Assuming it fits the way you like it, turn the shirt inside out again, and grab your fabric scissors.
Begin cutting the excess fabric from the bottom, leaving about 1/2″ of fabric on the sides.
Once cut, it will start to curl, but that fine. The next step is finishing those curled edges! Now, if you have a serger, bust it out and give the edges a proper finish. I, however, do not have one (or have any idea how to use one). I just use a basic zig-zag stitch to finish my edges.
This will keep the edges from fraying, and in general have the whole thing last longer. Once all your edges are finished, that’s it, your done! After you do it a few times, the whole project can be done in about 30 minutes – not too shabby! But I do definitely recommend practicing on a shirt (or three) that you don’t care about first. Especially the zig-zag stitch, which actually took me quite a bit of finagling to finally work properly.
And now, the fun before and after pics!
As you can see in the befores it’s pretty boxy, with lots of baggy sleeve in the arm areas; nice and fitted in the afters! I’m thinking I may actually hem the bottom of this up now, because I feel like it is really long compared to my other shirts, and it looks funny with my jeans!
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! It’s definitely not as exact as using legit measurements and such, but I find it SO much easier, and it hasn’t failed me yet! Let me know if you try it out!