How to Make a Shirt Bigger

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Learn how to make a shirt bigger by sewing fabric panels into each side seam. This is a great fix for shirts that are just a little tight.

I made this shirt severals years ago, and I love everything about it except that it’s just a little too tight. Because of this I never pull it out to wear it. It just sat in my closet. Luckily, with this tutorial I was able to add panels to each side seam to make it a little bigger, and now it fits perfectly.

Although I sewed this shirt and had matching fabric for the panels, this tutorial can be done with ready-to-wear shirts and matching or contrasting fabric. Thish technique works to make any shirt bigger!

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

Can I make any shirt bigger?

This tutorial works well to make a shirt a couple of sizes bigger. Since it doesn’t alter the neckline, length, or the shoulders, it works best for just make the circumference of the body and the circumference of the sleeves just a little bit bigger.

This method would not work to try to drastically alter a shirt several sizes larger.

What fabric should I use to make a shirt larger?

Take the shirt to a fabric store to try to match or coordinate the fabric to the color of the shirt. You will not be able to find matching fabric, but you could probably find something really close. Get about 1/2 a yard.

Make sure that the weight and the drape of the fabric, the way it feels in your hand and the way if falls off of your hand, is very similar to the weight and the drape of the shirt. The closer the weight, the drape, and the color is, the better the panels with blend in with the shirt.

How to Make a Shirt Bigger before and after

Do you love to sew? Try one of these sewing projects:

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

Supplies

  • Shirt that is just barely too small
  • 1/2 yard matching or contrasting fabric in a similar weight and drape
  • Ruler
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine
make shirt bigger supplies

Cut both of the side seam allowances out of the shirt. Save the seam allowances.

cut out side seams

Measure the cut seam allowance piece. Add 1 inch to each end. This is the length of your panel.

The width of the panel can be 3 to 4 inches wide. The panel will lose 1/2 inch from each side and the shirt will also lose 1/2 inch from each side.

If you do a 3 inch wide panel it will be adding about 2 inches to each side and if you do a 4 inch wide panel it will be adding about 3 inches to each side.

My panels were 18 inches tall and 3 inches wide.

cut two panels

Fold each short end over 1/2 inch. Fold the short end over another 1/2 inch. Press the folds in place. Sew all four hems in place.

hem short sides of panels

Pin the panel into one side of the shirt through the sleeves with right sides together. One side of the panel will be pinned to the back of the shirt and the other side of the panel will be pinned to the front of the shirt.

pin panel into side seams right sides together

Sew both seams with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Backstitch when you start and when you stop.

sew panel into side seam

Pin and sew the other panel into the other side of the shirt.

sew the other panel into the other side seam

Finish the edges of the four seams with either a serger or a zigzag stitch.

finish edges of seams

Press the seam allowances towards the panel.

press seams towards panel

Tuck the seam allowance behind the hem of the panel so that it doesn’t show from the front. Pin the seam allowance in place.

Tack the seam allowance in place behind the hem.

tack seam allowances towards panel

You finished!

How to Make a Shirt Bigger
How to Make a Shirt Bigger

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

Yield: Makes 1 Shirt Bigger
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Confident Beginner
Estimated Cost: $15

Learn how to make a shirt bigger by sewing fabric panels into each side seam. This is a great fix for shirts that are just a little too tight, and it makes the circumference of the body and of the sleeves larger.

Materials

  • Shirt that is just barely too small
  • 1/2 yard matching or contrasting fabric in a similar weight and drape

Tools

  • Ruler
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine

Instructions

  1. Cut both of the side seam allowances out of the shirt. Save the seam allowances.
  2. Measure the cut seam allowance piece. Add 1 inch to each end. This is the length of your panel.
  3. The width of the panel can be 3 to 4 inches wide. The panel will lose 1/2 inch from each side and the shirt will also lose 1/2 inch from each side.
  4. If you do a 3 inch wide panel it will be adding about 2 inches to each side and if you do a 4 inch wide panel it will be adding about 3 inches to each side.
  5. My panels were 18 inches tall and 3 inches wide.
  6. Fold each short end over 1/2 inch. Fold the short end over another 1/2 inch. Press the folds in place. Sew all four hems in place.
  7. Pin the panel into one side of the shirt through the sleeves with right sides together. One side of the panel will be pinned to the back of the shirt and the other side of the panel will be pinned to the front of the shirt.
  8. Sew both seams with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Backstitch when you start and when you stop.
  9. Pin and sew the other panel into the other side of the shirt.
  10. Finish the edges of the four seams with either a serger or a zigzag stitch.
  11. Press the seam allowances towards the panel.
  12. Tuck the seam allowance behind the hem of the panel so that it doesn't show from the front. Pin the seam allowance in place.
  13. Tack the seam allowance in place behind the hem.
  14. You finished!

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How to Make a Shirt Bigger

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Thanks Heather! Wonderful tip!