How To Narrow A Shirt?

How To Narrow A Shirt?

When it comes to fashion, sometimes we find ourselves with a shirt that we absolutely love, but it's a bit too loose or oversized. Thankfully, there are ways to narrow a shirt and customize it to fit our body perfectly. It's a simple and cost-effective solution that can transform our wardrobe.

One of the key aspects of narrowing a shirt is understanding the fabric and construction of the garment. Different materials may require different techniques, and it's important to choose the right method to achieve the desired fit. Whether it's taking in the side seams, adding darts, or using a sewing machine, there are several options available to modify the size and shape of a shirt.

How To Narrow A Shirt?

Understanding the Process of Narrowing a Shirt

When it comes to finding the perfect fit, sometimes shirts can be a bit too loose or wide around the body. Whether it's an oversized shirt or a shirt that has stretched out over time, narrowing it can help achieve a more tailored and flattering look. This article will guide you through the process of how to narrow a shirt, providing step-by-step instructions and tips for achieving excellent results. So, if you have a shirt that needs some adjustment, read on to learn how to give it a more customized fit.

1. Determine the Desired Width

The first step in narrowing a shirt is to determine how much width you want to take off from the original garment. This measurement will depend on your personal preference and the fit you are looking to achieve. Take into account your body shape and the style of the shirt. For a more fitted look, aim to remove about 1-2 inches from each side. If you prefer a slightly looser fit, you can opt for a smaller reduction. Have a measuring tape handy and measure your shirt's width from armpit to armpit. Subtract the desired width reduction from this measurement to determine how much fabric you need to remove from each side.

Once you have determined the desired width reduction, it's time to prepare your shirt for alteration. Start by washing and ironing it to ensure a clean and smooth fabric surface to work with. Next, turn the shirt inside out to access the seams that need to be adjusted. It's important to work with the inside of the shirt as it will create a neater and more professional finish. Now, let's move on to the actual narrowing process.

To narrow a shirt, you will primarily be working with the side seams. These are the seams that run vertically along the sides of the shirt, connecting the front and back panels. To start, use a seam ripper to carefully remove the stitching on the side seams, starting from the bottom hem and moving upwards towards the armpit. Take your time to avoid tearing the fabric. Once the stitching is removed, you will have access to the excess fabric that needs to be taken in.

Measuring and Pinning

Before cutting or sewing anything, it's crucial to measure and pin the fabric to ensure accuracy and symmetry. Lay the shirt flat on a cutting mat or clean surface. Fold one side of the shirt to align the edge with the desired reduced width. Use pins to secure the fabric layers and keep them in place during the alteration process. Make sure the folded side is smooth and there are no wrinkles or puckers, as this will affect the final fit. Repeat the same process on the other side to achieve symmetry and balanced proportions.

Take a measuring tape and double-check the width of the folded side. Compare it to the desired reduction measurement you made earlier. Make any necessary adjustments by re-pinning the fabric until the measurements match. Once you are satisfied with the pinned width, use a fabric marker or tailor's chalk to draw a straight line along the folded edge. This line will serve as your cutting guideline, ensuring a clean and even alteration.

Cutting and Sewing

Now that the fabric is measured, pinned, and marked, it's time to cut away the excess fabric. Use fabric scissors to carefully cut along the marked line. Take your time and follow the line as accurately as possible. Once the excess fabric is removed, you can proceed with the sewing process to secure the new fit.

With the excess fabric gone, it's time to sew the newly adjusted side seams. Set up your sewing machine with a matching thread color and choose a straight stitch setting. Start from the bottom hem and sew along the new seam line you created. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam to secure the stitches and prevent unraveling. Repeat the process on the other side. Once both side seams are sewn, trim any loose threads, turn the shirt right-side-out, and give it a final press with an iron to smooth out any wrinkles.

2. Considerations for Different Shirt Materials

When narrowing a shirt, it's important to consider the fabric's composition and stretch. Different materials may require slightly different techniques to achieve the best results. Here are some considerations for narrowing shirts made from common materials:


Cotton shirts are generally easier to work with when it comes to narrowing. The fabric is stable and holds its shape well, making the alteration process straightforward. Follow the steps mentioned earlier to measure, pin, cut, and sew the side seams, and you will achieve a neat and tailored fit. Take care not to pull or stretch the fabric excessively while sewing to ensure the shirt retains its original quality.


Shirts made from polyester or polyester blends are a bit more challenging to narrow due to the fabric's artificial elasticity. When altering a polyester shirt, it's essential to work with the fabric's stretch and be mindful of the final fit. Consider using a smaller width reduction, especially if the shirt has a high polyester content. Additionally, when sewing the side seams, use a slight stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch to accommodate the fabric's elasticity.


Knit shirts, such as those made from jersey or ribbed fabrics, require special attention when narrowing. The fabric's stretchiness can affect the overall fit and shape of the garment. To minimize distortion, use a sewing machine with a walking foot or a stretch stitch setting. This will help maintain the fabric's stretch and prevent unwanted rippling or puckering. Take it slowly and use a lower tension setting on your sewing machine to ensure a smooth and professional result.

3. Seek Professional Assistance if Needed

Narrowing a shirt may seem like a simple alteration, but it requires precision and sewing skills. If you are unsure about your sewing abilities or don't have access to a sewing machine, it may be best to seek professional assistance. Tailors and alteration shops have the expertise and equipment to narrow shirts effectively. They can ensure a precise fit and provide advice on the best approach for your specific shirt and fabric type. Investing in professional alteration services can guarantee a high-quality and customized fit for your shirt.

4. Finishing Touches and Care

After narrowing your shirt, it's important to give it some finishing touches and proper care to maintain its new fit. Here are a few tips:

  • Trim any loose threads or excess fabric from the altered seams to ensure a clean and polished finish.
  • Follow the care instructions on the shirt's label to prevent shrinking or damaging the fabric when washing and ironing.
  • Store the shirt on a hanger or neatly folded to maintain its shape and prevent unwanted wrinkles.
  • If needed, make adjustments to the sleeves or collar to ensure a balanced and cohesive look.

5. Enjoy Your Newly Narrowed Shirt

Now that you have successfully narrowed your shirt to achieve the desired fit, it's time to enjoy wearing it confidently. Whether it's a formal button-down shirt or a casual t-shirt, the customized fit will enhance your overall appearance and make you feel comfortable and stylish. Embrace your new skills in shirt alteration and apply them to other garments as needed. With a bit of practice and attention to detail, you can achieve excellent results and create a wardrobe filled with perfectly fitting shirts.

How To Narrow A Shirt?

Techniques to Narrow a Shirt

If you have a shirt that is too loose or baggy, there are several ways you can narrow it to achieve a more fitted look. Here are some professional techniques to consider:

  • Darts: Sewing darts on the back and front of the shirt can provide a tailored fit. Darts are small, triangular-shaped fabric folds that help shape the garment to your body.
  • Taking in the Seams: This involves narrowing the sides of the shirt by taking in the seams. It can be done by using a sewing machine or by hand stitching.
  • Adding Darts on the Sides: Another option is to add darts on the sides of the shirt to create a more tapered fit. This is especially useful for shirts with a boxy silhouette.
  • Alter the Sleeves: If the sleeves are also too loose, you can narrow them by taking in the seams or using darts.

It's important to note that altering the size of a shirt requires some sewing skills. If you're not confident in your abilities, it's best to consult a professional tailor who can assist you in achieving the desired fit. Remember, proper fitting can enhance your overall appearance and make you feel more confident in your clothes.

Key Takeaways - How To Narrow A Shirt?

  • Measure the shirt and mark the desired width to narrow it effectively.
  • Pin along the marked line to keep the fabric in place while sewing.
  • Use a sewing machine or needle and thread to carefully sew along the pinned line.
  • Try on the shirt after sewing to check the fit and make necessary adjustments if needed.
  • Press the seams to create a crisp and professional finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about how to narrow a shirt:

1. Can I narrow a shirt that is too large for me?

Yes, you can narrow a shirt that is too large for you. The best way to do this is by taking it to a professional tailor who has the necessary skills and equipment to alter the shirt properly. They will be able to adjust the width of the shirt to fit your body shape and size. Alternatively, if you have basic sewing skills, you can also attempt to narrow the shirt yourself by taking in the seams and making adjustments to the side seams.

However, it is important to note that altering a shirt yourself may not produce professional results, especially if you are not experienced in clothing alterations. It is recommended to seek the services of a professional tailor for the best outcome.

2. What tools do I need to narrow a shirt?

To narrow a shirt, you will need a few essential tools:

  1. Sewing machine or needle and thread
  2. Pins or clips
  3. Scissors
  4. Measuring tape

These tools will help you make the necessary alterations to the shirt, such as adjusting the seams and hemming the fabric.

3. How can I determine the amount of fabric to remove when narrowing a shirt?

To determine the amount of fabric to remove when narrowing a shirt, it is best to try the shirt on and assess the fit. Pin or mark the areas where the shirt needs to be narrowed, such as the side seams. Take off the shirt and measure the distance between the pins or markings. This measurement will give you an idea of how much fabric needs to be removed.

Keep in mind that it is better to make smaller adjustments and try on the shirt again to ensure the desired fit rather than removing too much fabric at once. You can always make additional alterations if needed.

4. Can I narrow a shirt that has a pattern or print?

Yes, you can narrow a shirt that has a pattern or print. However, it is important to be mindful of the pattern placement when making alterations. Take note of where the pattern falls on the shirt and ensure that the alterations are made evenly on both sides to maintain the symmetry of the print.

If the pattern is intricate or delicate, it may be best to consult with a professional tailor who has experience in working with patterned fabrics. They will be able to provide guidance on how to adjust the shirt while preserving the integrity of the pattern.

5. Can I narrow a shirt with darts?

Yes, you can narrow a shirt with darts. Darts are a common alteration technique used to create shaping and a better fit in garments. To narrow a shirt with darts, you will need to mark the desired dart positions on the fabric and sew along these lines to create the shaping.

If you are not familiar with sewing darts, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a professional tailor who can accurately determine the placement and size of the darts for the best fit and aesthetic result.

To recap, narrowing a shirt can be done in a few simple steps. First, turn the shirt inside out and put it on. Then, use safety pins or chalk to mark the desired width on each side of the shirt. Next, take the shirt off and carefully sew along the marked lines, making sure to cut off any excess fabric. Finally, try the shirt on again to ensure the desired fit. Remember, it's always better to start with a shirt that is slightly larger than your desired size, as it's easier to take in than let out.

Narrowing a shirt allows you to customize its fit to your body shape, giving you a more tailored and stylish look. This can be especially useful if you have shirts in your wardrobe that are otherwise perfect, but just a little too loose. With a few simple tools and some basic sewing skills, you can easily narrow your shirts and transform them into flattering and well-fitting garments. So next time you find yourself with a shirt that could use some adjustments, don't hesitate to give narrowing a try!