T-Shirt Skinnification (Tutorial)

When I posted my sailboat tee tutorial a few weeks ago, I promised a tutorial on taking in the sleeves. This is really the most simple alteration out there, but it makes a huge difference, especially if you’re trying to avoid the 90’s baggy look (which, um, I hope you are).

Here’s the t-shirt I started with. It’s a men’s Hanes brand from Walmart that came in a 3-pack and cost about $8.

Step 1. Try on your shirt, inside out, and mark with a pin how much you want your sleeves taken in. Mark at the edge of the sleeve and at the armpit.

Step 2. Remove shirt and add a few more pins, if desired. Make sure the original sleeve seams are lined up and pinned in place.

Starting at the edge of the sleeve, sew with a straight stitch along the sleeve toward the armpit, making a pretty sharp curve about half an inch from the sleeve seams. Now as you sew down toward the bottom of the shirt, angle your seam toward the edge of the shirt, gradually sewing off of the shirt, as seen below.

Repeat on the other sleeve.

I bought my shirt to fit around the middle, so taking in the sides wasn’t necessary. If you want to take in the sides, don’t angle your seam, but continue that seam straight down the side of the shirt, all the way to the bottom.

Cut out the extra fabric and zigzag or serge the raw edge.

And voila! Cute new half sleeve t-shirt. For less than $3.

As always, comment or email me with questions! Happy Sewing!

. . . . . . . . . . .
Oh, by the way, I’m doing a little radio interview tomorrow on BYU Radio’s “Afternoons With Matt Townsend”, talking about good fashion on a budget, and how dressing well improves your self image!
If you’re interested in listening (and hearing my deep voice — I know you are), it’s on Sirius XM Radio Channel 143 or byuradio.org from 3-4pm MST tomorrow!


  1. Candice says:

    This is actually so amazing!! It makes me want to run out and buy a sewing machine, and spend my weekends altering clothes!!

    Unfortunately, I move too much to be able to justify getting one πŸ™

  2. Jess_LyMi says:


    This is so brilliant. I love that you took something so basic and made it a more fabulous! I definitely want to try this! Thanks for sharing and the tutorial. πŸ™‚

    Jess @ The Delightful Crafter

  3. that tshirt looks great on you! I so need to try this! xo


  4. Erica says:

    I wish I could listen to your interview, but I don't think work would be too keen on that. Dang! Maybe it will be available to listen to afterwards?

  5. Saskia says:

    I will plan my break to listen to you. I love being on American time for the time being, not 8 hours behind!

  6. .Chrissy says:

    Wow!!! That is such a cool opportunity!!! Way to go! Good luck I know you will do an awesome job!

  7. .Chrissy says:

    Wow!!! That is such a cool opportunity!!! Way to go! Good luck I know you will do an awesome job!

  8. Emily says:

    Great tutorial! I love how the sleeves turned out. Good luck in your interview!!

  9. Brittany says:

    That's one of my favorite little tricks! I love that having a little sewing skill can change a piece of clothing so much. Frees you up a little when shopping; you can buy items that are a little defective, shop in the men's section, or buy something and then completely revamp it! So handy πŸ˜‰

  10. newpetite says:

    That looks fabulous! I can now look at mens tee too πŸ˜€

  11. I don't think your voice is that deep. But maybe that's because mine is kind of deep. Anyway, I think it's lovely.

  12. Jen says:

    I have to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I AM interested in hearing your deep voice! hahaha

  14. So cute!!! What kind of sewing machine do you use? xoxo A-

  15. SK says:

    Such a great idea! I'll definitely have to try this!


  16. Annie says:

    What a cute tee! Love the skinny sleeves and the sailboat is awesome πŸ™‚

    The Other Side of Gray

  17. Justine says:

    I stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest and I am SOOO happy and excited that I did! I have a box of shirts and pants waiting to be altered and all of your ideas are amazing!! Can't wait to get started! Happy Birthday by the way! …oh and I'm your newest follower.

  18. Shaniqua says:

    That seems so easy! I'm so glad I found your blog! BTW How did you do the sail boat? I have a tee that I want to switch up and add a print to.

  19. BabyBellaRoo says:

    Hiya! I'm a beginner seamstress! πŸ™‚ I was wondering… How do you keep the underneath of your sleeves from looking all bunchy when it's complete and you turn it right side out?

  20. BabyBellaRoo says:

    I tried this refashion tonight on one of my hubs' shirt. I must have measured wrong cause it came out too tight and all up in my armpits. I guess I'll get there someday!

  21. BabyBellaRoo:

    Make sure that you're not doing too tight of a turn when you sew the armpit — that will help. Then trim off all the extra fabric about a centimeter from your seam. Then at the curve, make small cuts into the seam allowance (the centimeter you just left) toward your seam. If you do this every centimeter around the curve, it will allow the seam to stretch and not get bunchy.

    Good luck!

  22. Martin says:

    Hey guys check out this online store also for more Badger Sweatshirts I recently bought some nice t-shirts check out and you will like it.
    whole sale nike golf polo

  23. That is such a cool opportunity!!! Way to go! Good luck I know you will do an awesome job!

    Mens Shirts Store online

  24. This is an interesting and T-shirt printing so well maintained blog. Whole article is too good and well written.

  25. Jika Battler says:

    I just found one of my husbands old shirts that we both love. Its now too small for him and too big for me. I can not wait to make it perfect for me πŸ˜‰ Thank you for sharing.

  26. Lacy Lain says:

    I love your tutorials! I tried to "join your site" with Google, but it is saying error. Oh well, I will be back just wanted you to know there is a complication today somewhere and I love your site! (0:

    Love and Blessings,


  27. marsha says:

    I will do this! Thanks so much for the directions. It’s another, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment!!

  28. Kultured says:

    T-shirt dress is perfect for any season. But there is something that someone doesn’t know about T-shirt measuring. You have to change your T-shirt measure of change of season. http://www.kultured.co.nz

  29. Katie says:

    I’m having the same problem. Did you ever figure it out?

    • Merrick says:

      You have to cut off the extra fabric. Cut nice and close to the seam (like 1/8″ away) and that will smooth it out and you won’t have bunching. Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply