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



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