Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"GROW" This Shirt! DIY

Do you have a shirt that you really like, but it is too short? Layering works but adds extra bulk and often unwanted warmth. Follow my directions and photos for a quick, easy, and inexpensive solution for altering your shirts. It's "SEW" Easy!

Short red-striped shirt
Short blue-striped over-sized shirt

To lengthen the shirts, I decided to add a strip of white t-shirt fabric to the bottom of each shirt. Buying fabric can be pricey, so I bought a white cotton-knit turtleneck on a clearance rack for $1.00. I wanted the white strip to "hang" approximately 2" beyond the length of the original shirt. 

The turtleneck was the same width as the red-striped shirt, so I measured and cut 3" off the bottom of it, keeping the hem intact. Next, for the blue-striped shirt, I measured and cut 4 3/4" to allow for a hem and for sewing to the shirt. 

$1.00 clearance rack turtleneck

The blue-striped shirt is wider than the white shirt, so I measured and cut an additional piece to sew to the strip that I had cut. I had leftover fabric, so I decided to lengthen a striped shirt (Toddler, Size 3). I cut a 3 3/4" strip the width of the shirt, allowing 3/8" on both ends for the seam.

Now, I'm ready to sew! I pinned the strip with the hem attached to the red-striped shirt, matching centers and sides. 

With matching thread, I sewed a slightly long stitch (#3 on my sewing machine) in the hem line and pressed. 

For an "insert", I measured and cut a small section from the bottom of one sleeve of the white turtleneck and pinned it to the red-striped top with the hem on the top.

With matching thread, I carefully topstitched the "insert" to the shirt, being careful not to sew too close to the snap.
For the blue-striped shirt and orange-striped Toddler shirt, I sewed the side seams with a 3/8" seam and finished with a zigzag stitch.

For the hem on both the red-striped and orange-striped shirts, I measured and turned the white fabric up 5/8". I sewed a slightly long straight stitch (#3).

With matching thread, I pinned and topstitched the orange-striped shirt to the white strip, sewing on the original hem line.

Since this shirt was longer in the back than in the front, I trimmed the excess fabric. T-shirt knit does not ravel, so I did not finish the seam. I pressed the hem and seam well. When finished, the white fabric extends beyond the bottom of the original shirt approximately 1" in the back and 1 3/4" in the front.

The original hem for the blue-striped shirt was much higher, so this strip had to be longer. I pinned and stitched (#3) on the original hem line with matching thread and then pressed the hem and seam down. 

For $1.00, I have lengthened 3 shirts and given them a new look and new life! 

Hey, I have leftover fabric! 
Now what can I do with that???  
Coming soon??

Nancy's Notes:
  • I was fortunate to find the turtleneck on a clearance rack for $1.00, but you could use a t-shirt that you have, find one at a thrift store, or purchase fabric.
  • Seams can be serged for a neat look.
  • Your shirt and placement of existing hem will determine how long you cut the fabric.
  • Seam length may vary according to your sewing machine, but be careful not to stretch the fabric out of shape when stitching.

Three shirts with new looks and new life!


  1. What a great idea! I like my shirts long and hate it when they shrink up! I will have to try this. Thanks!

  2. I know what you mean, Cheryl! I've struggled with this problem for years until my recent "brainstorm". Good luck, and let me know how your project turns out!