Taking in a men’s ready-to-wear shirt isn’t difficult. It simply requires a sharp seam ripper and keen eye. Did you know that most men’s clothes are actually constructed in such a way that allows them to be easily altered? Women’s…. not so much. Our bodies are too unpredictable with their varying curves.
This tutorial is not for tailoring extremely fitted shirts. This is for taking in shirts that will still have an appropriate amount of ease. If you try to make a shirt extremely fitted and tight with this tutorial, the sleeves will pull at the intersection of the side seam and armscye, due to the sleeve seam being sewn as one with the side seam.
To begin to mark a men’s shirt to be taken in, have your customer/husband/Ryan Gosling put the shirt on, wearing an undershirt with it if that’s what he’ll do. Tell Ryan to rub his cologne all over it so you can get drunk off of his hunky scent, and then… whoa. Uhh… back to what I was saying.
Once he has the shirt on, make sure it’s buttoned correctly and decide how much it needs to be taken in. Here are a few key things to look for:
- Is the shirt too big? If the pockets practically fall to where his side seams should be, or the armscye seam falls to his bicep, he should go exchange it for a proper size. The shoulders have to fit! No, it doesn’t matter if his favorite Aunt Mildred got it for him, it’s not going to work.
- You can only take the shirt in up to 1 1/2″ on the double on each side. Meaning, you can only take in each side seam about 3″ total. Now that is A LOT of extra fabric to be taking in, so you should know you won’t be able to put it back. I tend to stick with about 1″ on the double for each side seam, max. Anymore and you can get too close to the shirt pockets.
- When pinning his sides, go straight down the side seams. Women need shirts to curve in at their waists, giving them an hourglass look. Men don’t need this because their bodies go straight up and down. There are exceptions, of course, but if you must curve the side seam, do so only very slightly!
- Be aware of buttons pulling. If the buttons pull, it’s too tight, and when he sits down or moves around, it will look ridiculous. There needs to be at least 2″ of ease left in the shirt. Unless it’s Ryan Gosling, and in that case, make it as tight as possible. And after that, email me a picture.
- The shirt will be taken in thru the side seams, and when you hit the armscye seam, you will make a 90 degree turn and pin down the sleeve. Try to taper it down to nothing as soon as possible. The closer you pin the sleeve seam to the cuff, the harder it will be to sew later.
UPDATE: Part 2 has now been posted!