How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big: 6 Easy Ways

Last Updated on 4 weeks by Susan Mayrich

There are six easy ways for those who want to learn how to fix a shirt that is too big. In this article, we’ll teach you an easy beginner-friendly method that requires sewing for the best and permanent fit, but you’ll also know other tricks without sewing for a quick solution to ill-fitting clothes.

How to fix a shirt that is too big without sewing

And speaking of having shirts with a poor fit, here’s the answer to can a tailor make a shirt smaller. You might own a lot of baggy, shapeless, or clothes that aren’t your size, and it’s more convenient to do everything at once with the help of a professional. 


How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big With And Without Sewing

Did you know that the most common way to fix a shirt that is too big is to have it altered by a tailor? However, the average cost for getting a shirt that’s not your size tailored is between $15 and $25, which most people can find too pricey for one t-shirt. 

So if you have saggy, droopy, or unflattering fashion pieces, here are steps you can do with and without sewing: 

Method 1. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big Using A Hem Tape

One of the most common tips for t-shirt alteration is using adhesives like fabric tape or glue at the surface to make the style fit better on the wearer. This is also a fast solution if you want a quick fix and don’t have the time to sew the shirt, dress, or jeans. 


  • Fusible hem tape
  • Scissors
  • Fabric chalk
  • Tape measure
  • Iron 


  1. Measure the circumference of your shirt’s hem and cut a piece of fusible hem tape into the same length with half an inch of allowance
  2. Mark the t-shirt that’s too big according to the better fit and cut off the excess 
  3. Fold the raw edge of the clothing twice and secure it in place with hem tape on the back side of the shirt
  4. Iron on the front side of the shirt to activate the adhesive
  5. Let everything set for 24 hours 


Method 2. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big Using Safety Pins

While hem tape is an easy way to fix clothing items that are too big or long, not all fabrics can withstand heat from the iron. Hem tape might also be impractical for active movements, so it’s better to use safety pins to cinch the dress or t-shirt and make it fit better without worrying about the adhesive getting frazzled after a couple of times. 


  • Safety pins
  • Fabric chalk 


  1. Turn the t-shirt inside out and locate the seams on the sides
  2. Fold over each side seam and pin along the length 
  3. Turn the shirt right side out and check if the fit is better
  4. If you need to alter the width of the torso, you can tuck the back of the shirt and secure it with a safety pin in place
  5. Some people might not like the pin showing, so this method is better if the style is layered and you’ll wear a sweater or cardigan over the outfit 

Tighten the sleeves and bust with safety pins

Method 3. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big By Cutting

If you don’t mind a raw edge on the sides or hem of the clothing, you can just cut the garment with a poor fit, so it’s more flattering when worn. This also creates a unique style but check the fabric type if it doesn’t fray with unfished hems 


  • Scissors
  • Fabric chalk 


  1. Turn an ill-fitting t-shirt into a crop tee; even if it’s oversized, the new length can be flattering on plenty of people
  2. Knit fabrics should be safe to cut at the bottom and create a new edge because they won’t fray 
  3. You can also create a fringe at the bottom of the clothing by cutting vertical lines at half-inch intervals 
  4. For those who want their garment to be more fitted, such as unflattering loose t-shirts, you can cut the fabric at the sides instead 
  5. Lay a t-shirt that’s not your size over a table and put a shirt with your ideal fit over it
  6. Mark along the sides of the extra-large shirt and cut the excess fabric with an inch of allowance
  7. Cut strips around half an inch long on the side seams of the sleeves and tie them into a knot to make the sleeves fit better without any stitch

Method 4. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big By Knotting 

Another process for people who hate anything that requires a sewing machine is making knots to make the shirt fit better. This is a fantastic method if you have a large amount of fabric to work with, and you can create a flattering shape with your oversized sweater or t-shirt. 


  • Elastic hair tie
  • A piece of quarter 


  1. If you have a baggy t-shirt that’s too long and wide, create a better style and fit it with a ruched knot
  2. Put a piece of the quarter under the bust and hold it inside the shirt
  3. Wrap a piece of hair elastic around the coin from inside the clothing to take in the excess material
  4. You can also just take the extra amount of clothes at the bottom of the t-shirt into two handfuls and tie them into a knot
  5. Another trick is to gather the excess fabric on the shirt that’s too big at the back and twist it before tying 
  6. Fold the knot under the bottom edge of the shirt to hide the knot
  7. For people who don’t mind the knot showing, a fun trick to do is to gather the excess material at the side and tie it at the hip 
  8. For formal clothes like button-down shirts, you can just unbutton the bottom three buttons and make a knot with the tails 

Method 5. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big Using Heat

Using heat is a permanent and easy trick anyone can do to shrink a cotton shirt that is too big into a size that creates a more flattering fit. However, always check the garment label as some things shouldn’t be exposed to high heat, and this method works well for fixing t-shirts that are too big vertically. 


  • Hot water
  • Container for soaking the shirt
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer 


  1. Fill two-thirds of the container with boiling water
  2. Put the t-shirts in the water and soak them for half an hour
  3. Place the clothing in the washing machine at the highest heat setting possible
  4. Put the shirt in the dryer to expose it to hot air and shrink the fibers to a smaller size 

how to fix a shirt that is too big without sewing

Method 6. How To Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big By Sewing Tucks

If you need a more lasting solution, it’s better to sew the clothing yourself. A professional method you can do without any overwhelming technique or pattern is to stitch tucks. 


  • Sewing machine
  • Pins 
  • Appropriate things for the garment type of the clothing (e.g., recommended needle and proper color of thread)


  1. Turn the shirt inside out and determine where you can pull in the excess fabric for a fitted style
  2. Mark the points for tightening the shirt and fold them into pleats 
  3. Pin in place and sew along the folded edge to make the tucks permanent 
  4. For very oversized t-shirts where you’ll gather more fabric, you can sew rows of tucks parallel to each other 


Fix your shirt with hem tape

How Do You Fix A Shirt That Is Too Big In The Shoulders?

If your t-shirt is too big in the shoulders, the best trick you can do is to insert a dart. However, this is not an easy method for those new to sewing, so an alternative is to use something behind the shirt to take the wide shoulders closer and keep them from falling off

Things you’ll need

  • Materials for sewing by hand or with a sewing machine 
  • Scrap fabric, such as a piece of the collar from another shirt


  1. Measure a piece of rectangular fabric that you can use to gather the excess material from the wide shoulder behind the shirt
  2. Pin the rectangular fabric on both sides of the collar behind the shirt to make the circumference smaller and keep the shoulders from falling off when worn
  3. Sew the fabric strip in place and decorate the raw edges with zigzag stitches 
  4. Depending on the style of the shirt or dress, you can use a rope, ribbon, or yarn instead of a fabric strip 

How To Make A Shirt Fit Tighter Around The Waist

The easiest way to make a shirt fit tighter around your waist is with a bit of elastic. This also creates a stylish fashion statement, especially with oversized t-shirts and peplum blouses. 

Things you’ll need

  • Materials for sewing by hand or with a sewing machine 
  • Elastic 


  1. Subtract an inch from your waist measurement to know the elastic length you’ll need 
  2. Create a circle with the elastic by sewing their ends together
  3. Mark four points around the elastic and waist of the shirt
  4. Turn the shirt inside out and pin the elastic in place using the markets
  5. Sew around the top and bottom sides of the elastic with zigzag stitches

And for those dealing with a shapeless dress that’s too big, here’s an article on how to make a loose dress tight without sewing


How Can I Shrink The Neck Hole Of My T-Shirts?

It’s possible to shrink the neck hole of your t-shirts if you find them too big. However, it depends on the fabric; some garment types won’t even do well in high heat. 

An alternative solution to this problem is to sew a stay tape on the neckline. You can use any fabric strip as long as the material does not stretch.

Things you’ll need

  • Materials for sewing by hand or with a sewing machine 
  • Fabric strip or bias fusible stabilizing tape 


  1. Make a dart along the neckline
  2. Gather the neckline to the size you need with running stitches
  3. Put the stabilizing tape on the neckline edge and sew it in place 


How To Make A Button-Up Shirt Smaller Without Sewing

You have two methods if you don’t want to sew a button-up shirt to make it smaller and fit better. The first one is leaving the bottom buttons unbuttoned and then making a knot with the two tails of the shirt.

You can experiment with the knot’s size, position, and style according to the look you’re going for. Another alternative is to tuck the button-up shirt for a more flattering length simply. 

But instead of directly inserting the bottom fabric at your pants, you’ll insert one tail into the gap between the bottom buttons of the other side for a hidden cropped trick. 


How To Make A Shirt Tighter Without Cutting?

Cutting shirts can feel like too much commitment, but you can still achieve a better fit by using the methods discussed with elastic or coins. You can also use any round elastic or belt around your waist and then tuck the shirt under it for the cropped look without cutting the garment. 

If these methods are not practical, consider shrinking the shirt instead. Cotton shirts can shrink, and their resulting smaller shape should be tighter on the body. 

But what if you want to alter an oversize sweatshirt without time-consuming steps? Read how to make a sweatshirt smaller without sewing for an easy process. 


Tighten the waist with a belt


How Do You Determine If A Shirt Is Too Big?

There are telltale signs and tips you can remember to ensure that your clothing items are not too big and unflattering to you. If these are also obvious, then it’s time to get them altered or try any of the methods discussed earlier: 

  • The length of the shirt should just be enough to cover half of your backside 
  • Try tucking the shirt and notice how big the resulting bumps are; too much bunching means the shirt is too big on you
  • Wear the shirt and check if the shoulder seams or the line between the shirt body and sleeves is at the edge of your shoulder and not your upper arm 
  • The shoulder or neck hole of the shirt is too big if it falls to the side and creates an off-shoulder style 


How Can I Make Sure That My Shirts Always Fit Well?

Did you know that the average shirt size for men is medium, which is a 38-40 inch chest size, and small for women, with a 34-36 inch chest size? That being said, it’s important to be aware of your size and the measurements of each fashion brand for that size. 

Medium, for example, might be smaller or bigger in different stores. The styles of the garment also vary from tight or oversized. 

Here are some additional things and tips to remember to get the perfect fit on your shirts and other clothing items:

  • The t-shirt length should stop below the belt 
  • Test the fit of the t-shirt torso by pinching the sides and ensure that the excess material is only a few inches
  • The shoulder seam of the shirt is the perfect size if they align with your shoulder bone
  • The shirt neckline should cover the chest completely
  • The shirt sleeve should stop at the middle of your upper arm

How Do I Know My Shirt Size At Home For The Perfect Dress Shirt Fit?

Here are the guidelines for measuring yourself at home if you want the perfect dress shirt fit:

  • Measure the distance between the base of your neck to the bottom of your buttocks for the shirt length
  • Measure the fullest part of the chest to know how big the dress shirt chest should be; the tape should be tight under the armpits
  • Stand relaxed and measure around the neck where you expect the collar will be
  • Measure around the fullest part of the belly with the tape snug to get the waist of the dress shirt
  • Have someone assist you with measuring the outside edge of the shoulder to the outside edge of the other shoulder
  • Have someone assist you in measuring the center base at the back of the neck, over the shoulder, up to the meatiest part of the palm 
  • Get the bicep measurement by measuring around its fullest point without flexing 
  • Measure around the wrist bone to know how big the wrist of the dress shirt should be

How Do You Shrink A Shirt One Size?

If your clothes are made of cotton and are too big, you can shrink them to get a better fit. Cotton usually shrinks on hot water wash, but it’s hard to predict where it will lose the excess size when worn. 

You only need to wash clothes in hot water and dry them at high heat with a machine. However, note that the garment might be treated to prevent shrinkage, and you might get a damaged and faded shirt because of the extreme heat. 

And finally, note that the shrinkage from heat usually happens at the length where the clothes were cut. On the other hand, the yarns that run the width of the garment are not prone to shrinkage, so it’s unlikely for the clothes to shrink horizontally. 


And that’s it! We’ve just covered everything you need to know on how to fix a shirt that is too big.

They include sew-free options like making knots, cutting, pinning, taping, and shrinking. And if you want something easy and permanent, you can sew tucks to take in the excess fabric. 

Let us know in the comments which method you’ll try!

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