Here is an update on my project to change large sized shirts into smaller sized shirts. Above you can see the first shirt I “converted.” The brown shirt was a size Extra Large and the orange shirt underneath it is a size Small. So, you can see that I was able to make the brown XL shirt into an S (actually – shorter than S).
There were a few problems though as you can see in the next photo where I am wearing it.
Here are some problems I see: 1) the neckhole is off-center, 2) there are folds in the upper chest/shoulder area, and 3) the shirt hem looks bad.
You can see in the side view where I had to cut a side-seam to make the shirt smaller. The original t-shirt did not have side seams, so I made some, following the grain of the shirt.
In the back view, there are folds in the shoulder area again, just like in the front. I am not entirely sure why these folds appeared.
It does makes sense for the XL shirt to have more depth, since it is made for a bigger person than me. However, I thought the pattern I traced from the small shirt should have been the right size so that those folds would not appear in the modified shirt. I don’t know what happened to cause that, but I think it must have to do with my pattern. The only other explanation is that the fabric itself is distorted in some way.
Above is the pattern I made from tracing the outline of my size Small t-shirt.
Here you can see that I ran into big problems with the shoulder area. I was surprised to find that the size XL shirt had completely different shoulders than the size S shirt. The small shirt had more of an angle to the shoulder, or at least in the way I traced it, it seemed to. Since I didn’t want to have to re-sew the shoulders and neckline, I had to sort of guess where the shoulder should be. (In the photo above, I have already cut the back and the pattern piece is lying where I will cut the front.)
I did notice that the shirt grainline was off and the two shoulder seams were different — one was slanted and the other was straight. The shirt seemed very poorly constructed, even before I made my modifications to it. Because of the slanted shoulder seam on one side, that shoulder is 1 cm longer than the other after I cut it. That is probably why the neckhole isn’t centered around my neck in the first photo.
The sleeves on the XL shirt were also very different from my size S shirt. As you can see, the XL sleeve is almost rectangular, and it has a small bulge on the hem. There is very little rise on the top part of the sleeve compared to the one in my pattern.
Here is the sleeve pattern piece I made (lower right), after I cut three shirt sleeve pairs from it.
Overall I think the sleeve came out acceptable. Maybe not great, but not awful either. I think the seam would have been smoother if my pattern had been more like the size XL sleeve, without the big rise on the top and more rectangular in shape.
I have learned a lot about sleeve-fitting and drafting from this project, but I think I still have a long way to go before I can make a nice looking t-shirt…