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Making a Camp T-Shirt Smaller

June 30, 2015 by Michelle

I came home tonight to a huge hug from my daughter. Bliss. A few minutes later my husband let me know camp had sent home a t-shirt she needed to wear tomorrow for field trip day. I knew what to expect, but today, I guess I’d just had it.

I pulled out a youth small. The same size as the last camp t-shirt and the size used whenever she’s gotten to dye-tie t-shirts for one thing or another. On my 5-year old, a youth small is a baggy potato sack dress.

I had her try it on (even though I knew it would be huge) and went nope, she’s not wearing this. No more tying it 80s style to the side. Who cares about length? The neckline and arm holes are so huge she can’t possibly be comfortable in this t-shirt. That is the exact opposite intent of a t-shirt! So I spent a couple hours making a shirt that started the size of the one on the right, into the one on the left.

I am very greatful right now that I 

  1. Know how to sew.
  2. Own a serger.

If you have a small kid and art at all crafty, knowing how to sew comes in handy a lot.

So I’ll try to think more about how I’m happy I could make this a decent t-shirt for her and less about the fact that I can’t just order a camp t-shirt that fits!

—-

I wasn’t planning to make this a tutorial when I was working on it, but I’ll provide an outline of what I did so those of you out there who know how to sew have a starting point. (And for my own reference when/if I do this again.)  Baisically, you cut the shirt apart & sew it back together. The only thing you don’t have to redo is finish the collar and hem the sleeves.

  1. Find at shirt the right size for your base.
  2. Fold both t-shirts in half.
  3. Cut the sleeves off on a curve, close to the seam.
  4. Line the top of the shirts up and draw a line parallel to the side of the small shirt allowing for a 5/8 seam.You may want to put this on your child to get a sense of how much of the neckline to take in. 
  5. With right sides together, line up the collar so you won’t have a gap when it’s sewn.
  6. Sew across 1/2 inch to an inch depending on sizing needs. (Try on your kid again, you can always rip out the stitching at this point if you made the neck too small)
  7. After you have the sizing right, if you have a serger, resew/serge the seam. (Or reinforce and trim if no serger)
  8. Next I remeasured against the sample shirt and noted where the armhole would start. Either with a French curve/pattern ruler (or eyeball best you can if you don’t have one) measure out the armhole on the sample shirt and then mark the equivalent on your large shirt, and cut.
  9. Serge the side seams.
  10. Try on your kid again. If those arm holes aren’t right, now is the time to make adjustments
  11. Measure against the sample shirt the size of the sleeves. Again using the French curve, measure and cut to reduce the sleeve length.
  12. Draw a parallel line to the existing seam on the sleeves (right sides together) measuring the width on the size of the armhole.
  13. Serge the sleeves along this parallel line.
  14. Pin the sleeves to the armholes.
  15. Sew/baste the sleeves in place on your normal sewing machine. Serge at seam (or reinforce within 1/4 inch and trim the seam if no serger.)
  16. To hem, first serge a single layer fabric around the base of the shirt to desired shirt length. 
  17. Fold under 3/8 inch and use a double needle to finish the hem.

I have a few photos I’ll add later when my WordPress app stops crashing.



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