Using elastic to shorten the hem or sleeves on a T-Shirt or top By Judith Turner
T-Shirts are one of our most comfortable articles of clothing, yet if they are too big can make us look bigger - sleeves can also be too long, and if you are like me you might prefer to wear three quarter sleeves rather than long. Try this simple and quick technique to shorten a tee using elastic.
Diagram 1 - T-Shirt that is too long in the hem and sleeves.
Diagram 2 - Same T-Shirt with elastic sewn into the side seams, side seams of the inside arm seam and at the front of the neckline.
The elastic could be attached at the hip area only, or sewn up to the bust. Personally I prefer to attach all the way to the bust, because I am a size 14/16 and prefer to give the illustration I have a smaller waist than I really do.
If you want to gather all the way to the bust, cut 2 x 20 cm (8in) strips of size .6 cm (¼ in) elastic
for the side seams. There are different grades of elastic on the market, so I do suggest you use a good quality elastic that will not lose its elasticity after a few washes.
- Pin the elastic just above the hem allowance onto the side seam and pin the opposite end 40 cm (16 in) up the side seam. Depending on the length of the tee shirt this should be near the underarm. The elastic should be half the amount you want to gather.
- Stretch the elastic and pop a pin
in the middle between the top and bottom pin.
- Sew the elastic on using a zig zag stitch. Make the stitch width of the zig zag as wide as the elastic and make the stitch length medium to long in length. Repeat on the opposite side.
Elastic can be sewn just above the hem allowance up the inside arm on one side only, or you could attach a second row of elastic along the outside arm. If you go with the two rows, iron the sleeve with the inside arm seam ironed flat. This will create an iron line for you to follow on the outside arm.
The length of elastic used will depend on how high you want to pull the sleeve up, however if you want to only gather around the lower arm, cut 2 x 10 cm (4in) of elastic.
- Pin the elastic onto the inside arm seam 20 cm (8 in) above the end of the sleeve.
- Pin the opposite end of the elastic at the hem, then stretch the elastic and pin in the middle. Use the zig zag stitch to sew onto the seam allowance.
- If you are going to sew elastic onto the outside arm seam, cut another 2 strips. Even though there is no seam to attach to, you can sew through the middle of the elastic up the outside arm fold. In this instance I would suggest you use a straight stitch so that the stitching is not as noticeable on the outside.
If you want to create very puffy sleeves, add another row of elastic between the inside and outside arm on both sides.
Front neck gather
- Turn the garment inside out and cut the piece of elastic approximately 5 cm (2") in length and pin into place, making sure you have it in the centre. Do not begin to sew at the edge of the centre front. Begin the elastic at what will be the top once the seam allowance is folded over and sewn - this way the top of the elastic will be covered inside the seam allowance.
- Stretch the elastic tight and sew onto the front. The last 1cm (½ in) is for you to hold on to so it does not slip out of your fingers. The elastic should stretch to around 7.5 cm (3 in).
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Happy altering, Judith aka genie.