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Cut It Out


John Casey has another great T-shirt out, “Clap Happy,” printed by and available at Oaklandish. Trouble is, like so many artists’ tees, it’s only been released in men’s sizing. Boy-fitted styles definitely work for some women; I’m just not one of them. The small is too long and much too tight around the hips. The medium is wider but hangs low enough to be a sleep shirt. What to do?

Desperately needing to wear this latest cool design, I decided to make it fit somehow. I started with a small because the top half fit pretty well. First, I put the shirt on and guesstimated how much to cut off the bottom. Then I laid the shirt on the table and cut a few inches above the hem in a nice straight line. Don’t cut too short to start, as you can always trim another inch or two if it’s still too long. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of this stage. When I started the project I didn’t think to document the whole thing from the beginning, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

After trimming the hem, I put the shirt back on and cut a slit straight up each side. No measuring was involved. I just cut until the triangular openings made the shirt wide enough to fit comfortably over my hips. Then I cut a patch for each hole from an old brown shirt on my scrap pile. Next, I tucked the cut edges of my shirt under and ironed them flat. Then I put a large scrap of the patch material under the opening and aligned the hem of the patch along the bottom of my shirt.

You can see that the brown patch material is a little higher than the cut edge of the T. When I did this, my intention was to hem the shirt, too, but after I finished, I decided to let it curl. You could probably do it either way, but a hem could also leave the shirt looking stiff.

To sew the patch in place, I used an accent thread that matched the rusty red of John’s drawing. I stitched very close to the fold to keep the transition as flat as possible, and I criss-crossed stitches at the top of the V to reinforce the weak spot.

When I put the altered shirt on, it fit really well except for the sleeves. Suddenly, they looked boxy and huge. I tried several things—tucking and tagging, cutting them shorter—but in the end I just cut them off and made a sleeveless T. The neck also felt too tight, so I carefully cut the collar away, too. The trick to this is using sharp scissors to cut along but not into the seam. You need to cut off the fabric you don’t want to keep but leave the seam for structure.

Here’s how it came out.

The final cut

I think the left side could have been cut higher. The right side looks a little more fitted. But overall, I’m pleased with how it came out. It’s a fun, cute tank top for this weirdly hot weather we’ve been having, and it’s got personality—a little of Mr. Casey’s and a little of mine.

So, the next time you find a shirt you love with a fit you hate, don’t be afraid to make it yours.


From → Art, Crafty, Sewing

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