I have a bunch of t-shirts that I love but don’t wear because they don’t fit well. Some are men’s tees because large women’s sizes were not available; others are larger women’s sizes that have too much fabric in areas where I don’t need it. Either way, I do not wear them because they fit poorly.
A couple of years ago, I came across an amazing idea on the feed of someone I follow on Instagram. @Ravennemain used a t-shirt pattern to resize a men’s graphic tee. Mind blown! Not only did she find a solution for the problem of an ill-fitting tee, but the pattern she used was also no other than the Plantain, the best (and FREE) t-shirt pattern ever released. After accumulating tees I love but don’t want to wear, I decided to try this method using an old t-shirt I inherited from my boyfriend.
The Oversized Tee
The t-shirt I used for this process is an old Boston Bruins tee. My boyfriend loved it and always talked about how nice the fabric felt. he loved it so much the tee was worn until it started to fall apart. The tee was on a fast track to the trash can when I rescued it with unclear plans to recycle it.
Cutting Into the T-shirt
I used the Plantain pattern to resize this t-shirt, but any t-shirt pattern would work. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend the Plantain. It is my favorite t-shirt pattern—heck, it is probably my most favorite pattern! And it is free! All you have to do is download the PDF file from the Deer and Doe website and tape the pages together (I am not going to say that taping the pages is fun, but the pattern is worth the effort).
I cut the front, back, sleeve, and neckline pieces following the seams and treated them like fabric pieces. The most important thing here is to make sure that the image is properly centered before you cut the front piece. It is worth spending some extra time getting the placement right.
The most important thing here is to make sure that the image is properly centered before you cut the front piece. It is worth spending some extra time getting the placement right.
I thought that with the tee being so oversized, I would have plenty of room to place the Plantain pattern pieces. The placement of the image, however, forced me to change how low the neckline could go. If you have ever sewn the Plantain, you know that the neckline is much lower than that of a crewneck tee. Even with all the trying, a bit of the top of the image got swallowed by the neckline seam.
Sewing the T-shirt
I made the neckline a bit wider, and luckily I had enough fabric in the original neckband to use it. I had to cut and piece the neckband to make it fit because some sections of it were just too messed up. If you try this project but cannot reuse the neckband, use fabric from the bottom of the tee, or go for a color-blocking vibe with leftover knit from another project. Another solution would be to change the neckline to a boatneck style and just hem the raw edge–or leave it raw for an unfinished look.
Once all the pieces had been recut, I just sewed them as I would sewing any t-shirt. I reinforced the shoulder seams with twill tape just like I do whenever I sew a tee. Then, I attached the sleeves, sewed the side seams, and hemmed the sleeves and bottom of the tee. No real mysteries.
What if the tee fits poorly just in certain areas?
I recently bought two t-shirts that I want to wear to work. They fit okay, but there was extra fabric under the arm. I pulled out my trusted Plantain pattern and used it to check how much to adjust the armscye.
This process required much less cutting. First, I pinned all the excess fabric I wanted to get rid of. Then, I basted a new side seam bringing the armscye up and taking some fabric in at the hip.
Basting allowed me the peace of mind I needed to only cut into a brand new tee once I was sure it would look like how I wanted it to be. That was it!
I have already resized three t-shirts—the Boston Bruins one (which I am so glad to have recovered for sentimental reasons), the Lovecraft one (how cool is this one?), and the space invader/alien tee (another one of my boyfriend’s t-shirts that started out more like a dress)—and I have plans for a few more. Being able to resize my t-shirts will go a long way in allowing me to reclaim the joy of wearing graphic tees.