How to Make a Shirt Smaller by Cutting It?

Last Updated on August 22, 2023

If you have a t-shirt that’s too large and you need to make it smaller, there are several steps you can follow to achieve the desired fit. Here, we’ll walk you through the process of resizing a t-shirt quickly and economically by cutting and altering it.

How to Make a Shirt Smaller by Cutting It

How to make a shirt smaller by cutting it?

This method involves resizing the body and the sleeves to create a more tailored fit. Please note that this guide assumes you have basic sewing skills and access to a sewing machine and an overlocker (serger).

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Assess the Fit

Examine the oversized t-shirt to identify the areas that need resizing. Pay attention to the body fit, sleeve length, and any design details like side splits.

2. Undo Stitching (if necessary)

Undo Stitching
Image Source: Judith Turner

If the t-shirt has side splits that need to be taken in, carefully undo the stitching along the split area using a seam ripper. This will allow you to alter the fit without affecting the design elements.

3. Mark the Alterations

Mark the Alterations
Image Source: Judith Turner

Using chalk or a fabric marker, mark the areas that need to be altered. For the body, mark from the underarms down to the desired length. For the sleeves, mark where you want to shorten them. Take measurements and calculate the amount you need to remove while considering seam allowances.

4. Resize the Sleeves

Resize the Sleeves
Image Source: Judith Turner

Cut the sleeves off along the marked lines. To maintain the seam allowance, remember that you’re not just removing the excess fabric but also the amount needed for the seam allowance.

5. Resize the Body

Resize the Body
Image Source: Judith Turner

Lay the cut-off sleeve onto the opposite side of the t-shirt as a template. Pin it in place, aligning the edges and seams. Cut the body of the t-shirt along the template sleeve, ensuring that you’re cutting the same amount as the first side. This method provides symmetry in the alterations.

6. Reattach the Sleeves

Reattach the Sleeves
Image Source: Judith Turner

Place the sleeves back onto the t-shirt, aligning them with the armholes. Pin the sleeves into place. Use a sewing machine or overlocker to sew the sleeves back onto the t-shirt. Make sure the stitches are secure and even.

7. Stitch the Split Seam Allowances

Fold the seam allowances of the side splits back and stitch them down. You can use a sewing machine with a stretch needle or a zigzag stitch. This will help the split lay flat and maintain a clean finish.

8. Finish the Split Edges

Use an overlocker to trim and sew along the edges to ensure a neat finish on the split edges. This will prevent fraying and provide a professional look.

9. Attach Care Label (if needed)

If you had to remove the care label during alterations, make sure to reattach it by legal requirements.

10. Final Fit Check

How to Make a Shirt Smaller
Image Source: Judith Turner

Try on the altered t-shirt to ensure that the fit is now satisfactory. Make any minor adjustments if needed.


With this step-by-step guide, you’ve successfully resized a t-shirt to create a smaller fit using a cutting and altering technique. This approach is beneficial for quickly resizing multiple t-shirts for corporate or group purposes.

Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t flawless. Over time, you’ll refine your skills and achieve professional-looking alterations.

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