Man-fit T-shirt to Girl Top

I am sick beyond description of conference shirts, they are big and they are sack-like. I have lots of them, I’m expected to wear them a lot, and they are not particularly confidence-boosting. Dressing up for the crowd at technical events is not the way forward, but I am a tiny bit tired of shapeless – so I decided to learn how to refashion this pile of shirts that I now have, into something I might want to wear.

I began with this rather excellent tutorial, and an oversized shirt (my sister brought this back from scout camp last year).

tshirt before refashioning

I also took a favourite t-shirt that fits me nicely (not too tight, the finished article is still going to be a t-shirt) and used this as a template. Clothes that fit are pretty rare as I’m above average height, but I have a few favourites. In a nutshell, you draw around the main body of your template shirt (I used kiddy chalk, because it was handy), then make sleeves but by lining your template shirt up against the cuffs of your victim shirt.

outlines on shirt

I tacked (by hand) up the marked side seams, and tried the shirt on (inside out) to make sure it fit and I could get into it and so on (its easy to overestimate how stretchy something is and not be able to actually get into the finished article!). It was fine so I cut out along the chalk lines.

The only really tricky part came next … fitting the sleeves. In fact I had to phone home for some help (thanks mum!) and it turns out what you do is: Put the shirt down inside out and the sleeve the right way out, but post the sleeve in through the armhole with the hand-end of the sleeve inward-most – like a top with the arm inside out. Then the pins go inside this inside-out sleeve, at right angles to how you are going to sew, and with the points pointing out at you. Then you sew round the armhole and just sew over the pins with the machine. I hope that makes sense – I’m hoping it’ll remind me for next time anyway (/me points and laughs at future self reading these instructions)

Sew round the sleeves and down the sides, and take out the tacking. In theory you should also overstitch the hems but … I didn’t quite manage to wait that long before trying on my new shirt.

shirt after refashioning shirt after refashioning

9 thoughts on “Man-fit T-shirt to Girl Top

  1. ” Dressing up for the crowd at technical events is not the way forward ”

    Isn’t it? I think it’s time to show the nerds how it can be done ;)

  2. Michael: Hey, thanks – and thanks for dropping by :)

    Nigel: I’d be very happy if Kathy Sierra even read it! She’s ace and I’m missing her blog badly.

    berry: I get quite enough attention at tech conferences as it is!! Shirts that fit is one thing, but I’m definitely sticking to jeans, trainers and looking harmless

  3. Excellent tutorial Lorna !

    By the by: are you psychic ? Just this week I had been thinking about doing something like this with the PHPWomen shirt which IMHO doesn’t suit me at all with the ‘male’ cut of the shirt.

    Only unfortunate thing is that I don’t have a sewing machine, let alone any sewing experience… will have to scrounge round and see who can give me a hand.

  4. Juliette: Well, I’m as tired of those shirts as you are :) A few people have asked if a sewing machine is needed – to be honest I think you could do this by hand, it will take longer but it is definitely do-able. PHPWomen and Ibuildings shirts are both on my to-do list for refashioning now – the result will fit better than a top intended for women in the first place. You could also add darts for extra shaping if you wanted to, I decided I don’t have enough shaping to bother though.

  5. Yay, I’ve always wanted to know how to do that! Need to try soon – with these instructions I might even succeed. (And yes, the Ibuildings shirts will be the first ones to go through the transformation…) :)

  6. That shirt looks great! However, I have to say that the paragraph about how to fit the sleeves was the most confusing thing I’ve read in weeks. I’ve read it several times now and I still have absolutely no idea how to visualize that. I might have to call my own mum for some advice there, haha. Still, I have a job that’s supplied me with a number of t-shirts with nice graphics but boxy cuts, so I can’t wait to try this!

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