How To: Tailor a man’s shirt to fit a woman

Today’s blog is a repost from one of my favourite tailoring blogs:

Not only is the writer Australian, but this blog is full of detailed instructions and photos that will enhance your sewing in no time.


How to tailor a shirt
(Refashion a men’s shirt to fit a woman)

Topman shirt

Men’s clothes are usually bigger than women’s.

So any reconstruction that involves converting a man’s top to fit a woman would need to be made smaller.
Specifically, narrower in three areas:
  • shoulders
  • sleeves
  • trunk (the upper body)

The only exception is the boob area. Most men don’t have boobs, so they’re usually made with straight squares of materials which skim over their chest, without calling attention to anything in the bust area. Men’s shirts are shapeless in the front. Women’s shirts, on the other hand, tend to have a dart or pleat under the bust to create that curve.

Anyway, we’ll need darts here to accommodate for those curves if you are sewing for a female silhouette.


It will be easier to put in darts before you narrow the trunk.


Here’s how to reconstruct that man’s shirt to fit a woman!
1) Narrow the shoulder-to-shoulder width
2) Put darts under the bust so that shirt will curve over boobs
3) Narrow the sleeves and trunk of the shirt


Please read all instructions first 🙂


STEP 1: Put on the shirt and mark the end of your shoulder.



STEP 2: Take shirt off. Draw a curve from the shoulder mark to the armpit, under the original armhole seams. This will be your new armhole. Fold the shirt in half and cut your curve, cutting off both sleeves together.



STEP 3: Turn shirt and both sleeves inside out. Arrange so that the right sleeve is with the right side of the shirt, and the left sleeve with the left side of the shirt. The buttonholes on the cuff should be on the bottom.



STEP 4: Pin the sleeves back onto the shirt. Do this by matching the yoke seams together at the top of the shirt with the yoke seams on the sleeves. The right sides (the outside of the shirt) need to face each other.

You’ll have a hole at the armpit because the hole of the sleeve is smaller than the armhole of the shirt. Just try to pin together the sleeve and the shirt as much as possible to keep this hole small.


STEP 5: Sew the sleeves and the shirt together 🙂 Go slowly since you’re sewing a circle.



STEP 1: Put shirt on inside out. Draw an angled line from just underneath a boob towards the side of the shirt.  This will be the dart.

If you notice the dart extends onto a shirt pocket, either start the dart below the pocket, or remove the pocket first.


STEP 2: Take the shirt off. Use a ruler to extend the line to the edge of the shirt.


STEP 3: We need to copy the dart onto the other side of the shirt. If you used chalk, just fold the shirt in half and transfer the chalk line to the other side. If you want it accurate, take these three measurements

a) The horizontal width from the top of the dart to the side of the shirt.
b) The length down the side of the shirt from the armhole to the horizontal line I drew with step A.
c) The length down the side of the shirt from the armhole to the end of the dart.
As you can see, I got a) 17cm b) 5cm c) 23cm
Use these measurements to draw an identical dart on the other side of your shirt.


STEP 4: Pin the darts.


STEP 5: Sew the darts just under the line you’ve ruled. How much under is up to you. As a general rule, if your boobs are smaller, sew closer to the line. If your boobs are bigger, sew further from the line. Curve out at the top of the dart to close it.


STEP 6: Turn the shirt right side out and try it on. If you’re happy with your darts, turn the shirt inside out again and go ahead to cut off the excess material above the dart line. Iron open the dart seams.



STEP 1: Put the shirt on inside out. Mark where your waist is and then mark where the underside of your arm is. Be a little generous as you can always keep narrowing the shirt if it’s too big.

STEP 2: Take shirt off. Draw a straight, angled line on your sleeve from the armpit to the cuff. Then draw a curve from the armpit to the bottom of the shirt. The widest part of the curve is the mark your made of your waist. Cut.


STEP 3: Pin, matching the underarm seams and the cuffs of the sleeves. Pin the trunk from the armpit down. Because of the dart, there will a bit of the back shirt hanging longer than the front.


STEP 4: Sew. Try to keep the armhole seams and dart seams open.


STEP 5: Iron open all your seams, try it on!


You can hem up the back shirt if you want the lengths of the shirt to match. I tuck in my shirts so I don’t bother. You can also cut the sleeves and resew them if they’re too long. Or make winter-y shirts into summer ones by making them short-sleeves. Do this before narrowing the sleeves. Go to the second-hand shop and buy lots of cheap men’s shirts! Or even plus-size shirts. If you find a really, really big shirt (longer than mid-thigh length) you could re-make it into a shirt dress.You can double your work wardrobe in a weekend- once you do a shirt it’s easy to just re-tailor several shirts in the same way.



Gazman shirt
Topman shirt

Rivers shirt
Geoffrey Beene shirt



Movie review: Twelve Years a Slave

When I recently read a New York Times rave review for movie ‘Twelve Years a Slave’, it hit my ‘must see’ list.

Reviewers are hard people to impress, and I knew that if it was hitting 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, something was going on.

Truthfully I knew nothing of Solomon Northup’s story; a free black man who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery.

But given the title, I knew there was going to be some disturbing imagery. I came prepared with tissues and strength of heart!

The film combined beautiful cinematography with an unflinching directorial eye, which served to heighten the horrible cruelty and sense of entitlement of the southern lifestyle.

Although the entire cast gave an outstanding performance, special note must be made of leading actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor. There is an Oscar in his future.













Don’t be put off by the subject matter – this is an incredible piece of film making. Here’s the trailer for you:

Why we have too few women leaders – Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook with an illustrious business career – including Vice President of Google’s Global Online Sales and Operations, and Chief of Staff for the US Secretary of the Treasury.











Her business accomplishments are certainly inspiring, but what really drew her to my attention is that she has plenty to say about women in leadership roles.

With the release of her first book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’, she has put her money where her mouth is – and inspired a movement in doing so.

Her book has sold 1 million copies to date and has been on the bestseller lists since it’s launch. It addresses many of the barriers that prevent women from taking leadership roles in the workplace such as discrimination, and both blatant and subtle sexism.

There are no victims in this story however, and she argues that in order for change to happen women need to break down their own barriers.

As I have witnessed many times (and especially with younger women), much of our discrimination is self-perpetuated with societal gender roles and systematic discrimination. It’s the women putting each other down for their ambition, or for when they strive outside of the traditional.

When you stop to consider that “Real change will come when powerful women are less of an exception. It is easy to dislike senior women because there are so few.” – it’s easy to see how far we still have to go.

If you want to learn a little more, grab yourself a cup of tea and watch her short 15 minute TEDtalk


Latest Travel adventure: Chicago, The Windy City

I recently had the good fortune to travel to Chicago, the Windy City.

It’s one of those old American cities I’ve always wanted to spend some time in, and I was far from disappointed!

The trip was brief, but given it’s blues scene, dining culture, great architecture and friendliness, there’s no doubt that this is my kind of city. I will definitely be back for a return visit.

With it’s famous moniker, The Windy City, I was expecting some kind of tumultuous weather pattern – but as one of the locals informed me, the wind it’s referring to is actually a late 1800s reference to all of the political hot air.

The toughest choice I had to make was how to spend my limited time, and after a wonderful breakfast I happily spent the afternoon at the world’s largest indoor aquarium, The Shedd Aquarium. (



It was a spectacular day on Lake Michigan. The Aquarium is on one of the coastline points and makes for a beautiful walk.



The Aquarium has a huge diversity of creatures. The sharks are among the largest creatures.



Along with the Beluga whales, who are also trained performers in the Whales and Dolphins show.



These wormy creatures are amongst the smallest animals – and have a definite creep factor.



The first time I’ve actually seen a sea dragon. I was surprised by how tiny and beautiful they are.



It wasn’t just ocean animals at the aquarium. There was quite a range of tropical amphibians including frogs, turtles and salamanders.



This one won the smug guy award.



Giant old crustaceans like this one were almost imperceptible until the rocks started moving



The penguins are serious crowd pleasers and worth the extra few dollars



My personal favourite was the otters. So sleek, smart and playful.



And of course… lots and lots of fish of all sizes, shapes, colours and behaviours.

‘The Whale Rider’: Witi Ihimaera

Witi Ihimaera is a Māori novelist and short story writer best known for his novel and acclaimed feature film, ‘The Whale Rider’.









I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the Banff Centre on the weekend and I was immediately struck by his sincerity, intelligence and depth.

He spoke of the assumptions that we make in every day language – in the stories we tell – even in the nursery rhymes that we take for granted as children, and how important it is that we question everything and make them our own stories.

Witi explained the myth of Paikea (the male whale rider of legend) and why he re-gendered it and incorporated it into a modern setting.









From my point of view, I was relieved and empowered to see ‘The Whale Rider’ achieve success, not only because it was a great film, but because it represented Māori as something other than the victims and gangsters of ‘Once were Warriors’.

His latest film, ‘White Lies’ is playing major cinemas in New Zealand right now and I look forward to it’s release in North America.


Latest dancer crush: Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charise was an outstanding American actress and dancer who danced alongside Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

Born as Tula Ellice Finklea in 1922 in Amarillo, Texas, she began dancing lessons at six years old to help build up her strength after a bout of polio.

Although she continued to act well into her seventies, her dance career flourished in the 1940s and 1950s with such great movies as ‘Brigadoon’, ‘Silk Stockings’ and ‘Singin in the Rain’.

She became really famous with her incredible dream dance sequence with Gene Kelly in ‘Singin in the Rain’. Although her appearance in the film was short and silent, her beauty and talent made her one of the stars in the movie.

This was the sexy sequence that first caught my eye from ‘Singin in the Rain’:


And here’s her famous dream sequence:


And in case that wasn’t enough to inspire you, here’s my favourite clip of Cyd Charisse, from the 1953 film, ‘Sombrero’. Wow!

The Gratitude List and Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs

I like to take a little time out each day to write a quick list of twelve things I’m grateful for.

I find it an excellent exercise in perspective and it can put a smile on my face after even the most challenging of days.

Items from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs appear regularly on my list and I would even go so far as to say that the better the day – the higher up the pyramid the items are.

Written in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, this theory proposes that unless a person’s basic human needs are met then their subsequent anxiety will actually prevent them from being motivated by higher ideals.

We all understand our fundamental physiological needs such as air, water, food and shelter – but did you know that Maslow theorized that it’s the bottom four layers of the pyramid that need to be met in order to reach our full potential?

He also noted that only one in a hundred will actually achieve this higher level because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.

Where do your daily motivations and thoughts tend to sit on the pyramid?













Scary strong women


Generally I try to stay away from dating as a blog topic but this article was such a great read that I have decided to repost it.

The blog titled, “Apparently I Scare Men With My “Strong Personality” is by New York-based writer, Shani Silver (

For any of my female friends that have been rejected for showing a little more spark than a doormat (I’m sad to say pretty much all of them), I hope you will find this article encouraging to continue to stand proud and be yourself.

I get dating advice whether I want it or not. People assume that since I’m 31 and single something is “wrong” and they should try to help. Advice has ranged from the hilarious to the offensive, but I’ve heard one thing over and over again that has baffled me for long enough: “You’re intimidating.”

I am not a supermodel. I am not a high ranking political official. I am not an officer of the DEA. All the things qualities that strike me as “intimidating” are oddly absent from my resume. Why, then, do I scare the shit out of people, specifically single men?

Apparently, I have a strong personality. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. I’m guessing because I’m not “bubbly” or “peppy” those who are too lazy or lack creativity tossed me in that box so that they could have a box to toss me into. I am funny, I have wit, and after a lot of work as a kid, I am not shy. I am smart (kind of), and enjoy real conversations about things not on reality TV. I don’t shrink, I don’t vapidly flirt, and I have self confidence. Apparently, I am terrifying.

In response to the horror show of a personality I’m apparently putting out there, I’d like to share with those interested five reasons why I’m actually not scary at all. It’s totally safe to date me, I promise! Read below. Or else. Kidding. Kind of.

5. Decisiveness.

Can’t decide what you want for dinner? I know EXACTLY what I want for dinner. Bon appetite. It’s rare I’ll utter the phrase “whatever you want” with a coy smile and head tilt. You think it sounds cute now, but what about the 50th time you’ve heard it?

This isn’t to say I don’t compromise. I have a far better time when I know the person I’m with is having a blast, too. I’d rather see a movie we both kind of want to see than a movie I’m dying to see that you’ll sleep through. I’ll go to that movie alone later, thanks.

4. We’ll actually fight less.

Speaking my mind in a calm, non-pissed manner actually leads to me having far fewer confrontations with people, romantic partners and beyond. I don’t bottle my feelings for months on end until I snap, cracking your favorite record over my knee and hurling the pieces in your general direction.

Passive shit is for sissies. I won’t set you up to fail, or to piss me off on purpose, just so I can say “I told you so” or “You’re wrong.” Ain’t nobody got time for that. I take no pleasure in conflict, and much pleasure in compromise. Not shrinking into a corner will help us both in the long term.

3. I talk during sex.

Mom, skip this one. I don’t “make love” under the covers with the lights off and Sade playing in the background. Let’s fucking do this and have a good time while we’re at it. I’ve got a lot to say on the matter, literally. It’s a goddamn campaign speech in there. Want to know what I say? Date me.

When you get embarrassed if you accidentally head-butt me in the eye or heaven forbid have a moment of performance trouble (lots of you do, seriously y’all it’s OK), I’m not going to make you feel bad about it. I’m going to laugh, grab you by the back of the neck and talk you through it. You should feel comfortable with me during sex, because I feel comfortable with you, or you never would have made it this far. Let’s have fun.

2. Strength isn’t scary.

My personality is not going to eat you. It’s going to challenge you, and make you laugh, and have a great time with you. All that stuff you say you want? This is how you get it. You think you want it. You fill your online dating profiles with demands for women who can “keep you on [your] toes” but in truth, you write most of those off as “crazy” or “a mess” a month later.

Want something lasting, that challenges you in a positive way? That makes the best parts of you come out and dance? Date someone with a personality that compliments your own. That makes you laugh, and think, and wonder what else there is waiting in this smokin’ hot personality for you.

1. Strength is sexy.

Want to date a meek, quiet, yes girl? Go ahead. Call me in a week when you’re bored. You won’t be scared, but you won’t be enamored either. Sit among the piles of US Weekly and Bebe clothing in her apartment and drink a glass of her white wine while she finishes getting ready. I’m already ready, and I have bourbon waiting.

It seems as if the men I meet want to have it both ways. They want confidence, but not strength. Charm, but not wit. Passive traits have never been my bag, and I love that about myself. The thing that does scare me is that I might be scary to others. What if my personality puts people off, when it’s just the natural way I behave? I don’t want to scare you away, but I still want to be myself. Oh shit.

In truth. I like my strong personality. It works as an excellent filter. Scared of me? Awesome. Stay scared, I wouldn’t want to date you anyway. Brave? Confident? Six feet tall with blonde hair and glasses? Call me.

Amelia Earhart

History Lesson (Part Two): Famous chorus girl troupes

Many of our famous female dancers of the 20th Century started out dancing in the chorus line including Josephine Baker, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn to name just a few.

A handful of chorus girl troupes throughout the years have been especially famed for their talented beautiful dancers, precise dancing and spectacular costumes.

Perhaps the most famous of these are the Ziegfield Follies, Tiller Girls, Gaiety Girls and The Rockettes.

In each of these troupes the girls are matched exactly by height and weight in order to maintain the line’s uniform look and movement.

These physical specifications still hold true for many dance companies today – in order to be one of the 500 annual auditionees for the Rockettes you must have proficiency in several genres of dancing plus be between 5ft6″ and 5ft10.5″. No exceptions.

Here’s a classic clip of the Ziegfield Follies from 1946, including Lucille Ball – whip in hand!



And if you’re looking for something a little more modern, this second video gives you a great ten minute insight into the The Rockettes chorus girl lifestyle.


History Lesson: The life of a Chorus Girl

Despite their glamorous image, being a Chorus Girl in the early 1900-1940s was not for the faint of heart: the hours were long and the pay was atrocious.

But these hard working ladies were the backbone of any musical production from the late 1800s on, and no show was considered complete without a high-energy chorus of singing, dancing and acting beauties.

Unfortunately for the dancers, the work was grueling and life was a daily struggle. These women performed the bulk of the work for a fraction of the pay – and were unpaid until the show actually opened. This meant many weeks of unpaid rehearsal time, as well as the constant expenses of their tights, shoes and clothing.

In a typical evening’s performance a chorus girl could easily perform twelve numbers with six costume changes!

Between shows, some of the lucky ones would be able to earn a little extra income by posing for photographs, while others would end up pawning everything they had to pay for food and lodging.

For most of the women their greatest hope was to marry advantageously, as work would become increasingly more difficult as they began to age and were replaced by younger, more energetic dancers.

The video below is a great example of the complexity and strictness of what these chorus girls were learning all day: