Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tutorial: Taking in Side Seams

Yesterday, I posted a look that included a buffalo check shirt that I had taken in the side seams on to make it more fitted.  Today, I'm going to show exactly how I did it.  

Skill level: Basic machine sewing (it's super easy, I promise!)

Supplies: oversized shirt, matching thread, straight pins, and a buddy (but only for the first step, then you can let them go) 

Here is the shirt before (pardon the blurriness).  It was way too roomy for the look I was going for.

1.  Start by wearing the shirt right side out and having your buddy pinch the excess fabric and pin along your body to get the correct fit.  Make sure that each side is being taken in evenly.

Here's the placement of my pins along the side.

2.  Lay the shirt out flat and measure the distance between the edge of the shirt and the pins.  You want to have pretty much the same measurement all the way down the side.

3.  Remove the pins and turn the shirt inside out.  Measure out the same distance from step  2 and repin, but this time with the pins perpendicular to the edge seam so that you can sew over them.  I centered the hidden part of the pin that the correct distance, as seen below.

4. Start the stitch at the base of the the armpit (don't forget to backstitch!)  Curve the row inward until you reach the line of pins, then sew straight down the side.   

How the final stitch looks, curved down from the armpit to the line of pins.

5. Repeat the process down the opposite side of the shirt. 

6. Try on your shirt and make sure it fits the way you'd like.  If not, sew a second seam, starting at the same place as the first, but curving out a little further.

7. Cut the excess fabric off, leaving a seam allowance of about 3/8"

Two easy seams later, and you've got yourself a shirt tailored just for you.  This method is great for thrift store finds, hand me downs, or simply breathing new life into an old piece.  Now, go out and start taking in some shirts!  Happy sewing! 


  1. I'm a true believer in great tailoring--all good clothes can become great when fitted! Great job!

  2. Very nice improvement - love how simple this tutorial is and great photos to illustrate steps - thanks!