How to Turn an XL Shirt Into a Small Shirt With Scissors

By Amelie Mueller ; Updated September 15, 2017
Turn an XL shirt into a smaller size.

It can be discouraging when you can't wear one of your favorite shirts because it does not fit properly. Clothing that is too large for you can tent around your body and give you an unflattering shape. Fortunately, there is a way to get those great XL shirts looking and fitting as they should. Reconstructing shirts can be a fun way to customize your clothing and give it a more tailored fit. Using nothing more than a pair of scissors, you can quickly transform your XL shirts into a more flattering small size.

Cut the bottom hem off the waist of the shirt. Run your scissors just above the hemline stitches until the hem is disconnected from the shirt. On most shirts, the hem will be from ½-inch to 1-inch wide. Set the hemmed fabric strip to the side for later use.

Cut an additional strip of fabric off the bottom of the shirt until it is the desired length. In most cases, an additional 3 inches will suffice. You may want to hold the shirt up to your body and make a mark to denote the finished length. Remove and discard this strip of fabric.

Lay the shirt on a table or other clean, flat work surface. Cut the sides of the shirt off, including the sleeves. Begin cutting on top of the shoulder seam about 1 inch in from the sleeve seam. Cut all the way down the side of the shirt. Cut in a straight line from the top seam to the top of the waist. At the top of the waist, slightly curve your cut in toward the center of the shirt and work your way back out to the edge as you continue cutting. Cut the front and back panels of your shirt at the same time. Make the same cut on the opposite side. This should give you a form-fitting outline.

Cut small holes down the sides of the shirt. Starting at the armpit, cut a hole just large enough for the tip of your finger to fit in through the front and back panel of the shirt. Continue cutting holes 1 inch apart in a straight line down the side of the shirt. Repeat this step on both sides. Stretch the hemmed fabric strip with your hands as long as possible. Cut the strip into two pieces and stretch again. Lace the front and back panels together on each side of the shirt using the stretched pieces of fabric. Lacing the shirt together as though you were lacing up a pair of shoes is simple; however, you can lace the shirt together in any style you like.

Lay the shirt on a flat work surface and cut off the collar. For a V-neck style, cut just along the hemline on the back collar of the shirt, then cut a "V" into the front side of the shirt. You can also cut a wide but shallow neck hole to create an off-the-shoulder look.

Stretch the neck hole, arm holes and bottom opening to finish the edges of the shirt. Put the shirt on and adjust the lacing on the sides to finish your look.

About the Author

After studying veterinary science at the University of Illinois, Amelie Mueller worked in vet clinic for several years. Mueller later pursued a career in the arts, acquiring a journalism degree from Valencia College. Mueller now operates an art studio where she crafts furniture and home wares from recycled goods.