Nothing is worse than getting a new shirt, wearing it once, laundering it, then finding out it has shrunken to the point that you can no longer wear it. Don’t throw the shirt out! Don’t give it away! Fix it in minutes and enjoy wearing it for months – or years – to come. It’s easy to fix the shrunken condition of the shirt by adding a few inches of another fabric to the bottom of the short shirt.
Cut a strip of fabric to the width you need to have the shirt be its former length. This strip should be an additional three inches to allow for hemming and to allow for stitching it to the hem of the original shirt. The length of the strip you cut will need to be a combination of the width of the shirt, at the hem, front and back. You’ll also need to add an inch to the measurement to allow for the seam.
You have many choices when it comes to the fabric you use to add length to the original shirt. Generally speaking, the fabric choice should not be a heavy fabric like denim or corduroy. T-shirt fabrics, lace, and cotton selections are great. For an article of clothing like a lace shirt, you’ll need to work with an additional piece of lace, rather than any other fabric. It’s okay to choose a lace extension that doesn’t match the lace shirt, but trying to add other fabrics will make the shirt look awkward.
Some shirts will be easier to add the extension than others. Shirts that have a squared hem will be simple to add the extra fabric. Other designs, like rounded sides, will be more complicated to fix. Before adding the extension to any type of shirt you’ll need to hem the spare piece of fabric.
Side seam the piece of fabric then pin it to the bottom of the shirt. The extension should be pinned to the original hem stitching of the shirt. Make sure the extra piece is pinned slightly higher, on the inside, than the hem stitches of the shirt.
If the shirt has a rounded hem, just stitch on the extra piece all the way around, then come back to fix the side seams. Turn the shirt inside-out and go over the side seam. Start just above where the additional fabric has been added and stitch straight down. this will elimimate the excess fabric created by adding the extra piece to the rounded shirt. After stitching trim away the excess lace or fabric.
After positioning the extra piece of fabric it’s only a matter of stitching it to the shirt. Using a machine it’s easiest to sew from the top side of the shirt. Doing this, you can easily see the original stitching and place the new stitching directly over the original stitching. Guide your needle directly on top of the hem stitches of the shirt. If you want, you can stitch the new piece just above, or just below, the original hem. This will give you a double-hem stitch and will keep you from having to guide the machine needle over the exact original stitches.
If the original shirt has a double-stitched hem you have more than one choice. You can stitch over one set of the hem stitches, adding the new piece as you go, or you can stitch the new piece to the second set of hem stitches. Another option is to add a third hem stitch above, below or between the original two.
To make the extension seem more like part of the original shirt you can use matching fabric to add an extension to short sleeves. Just cut the extra piece and attach it to the sleeves in the same manner you attached the extension to the hem.
You can also add matching fabric to other areas of the shirt to make it look like the original design. Cut a half-circle and stitch it to the front, on a scoop-neck or v-neck shirt. Cut a pocket out of matching fabric and stitch it onto the shirt. These additional add-ons can really help the shirt look like it was an original design rather than fabric that has been stitched on after the fact.
Don’t dispose of shirts that have shrunk after laundering. Purchase a half yard or so of fabric and you’ll easily be able to fix these types of problems. Make sure that any fabric you use to make the extension has been pre-laundered so that it doesn’t shrink after you’ve sewn it onto the shirt.