Don’t just throw those old favorites out! When they’re not wearable anymore, you can turn them into art!
Why settle for a bad fit on a beloved tee?
We all have them. Those T-shirts in our drawer that we love for the graphics or the text on them … but whose cut leaves something to be desired. Maybe they’re just too big, or maybe they’re actually a unisex T, which doesn’t always flatter the feminine figure.
We wear them anyway, because we love them. But sometimes we pass them over because they just don’t look nice enough.
What if, instead, we fixed the problem?
The problem with boxy, unisex tees is actually in more than one place. First we have the obvious lack of definition around the waist–that dreaded straight line from shoulder to hips, that does little show our natural curves. But the sleeves are another issue for many of us. They’re too wide, unfitted. If we try to put a sweater or sweatshirt over them, those sleeves bunch up and are uncomfortable.
Fixes for the Bottom Hem
These fixes are quick, easy, and can either be left in permanently or taken out after a day!
Ponytail Holders : Use a ponytail holder to gather the shirt at the bottom and cinch it in around the waist. Quick, easy, and the reappearance of 80s and 90s styles have even brought this look back into vogue.
Safety Pins : If you have a couple giant safety pins, you can create on-the-go ruching at the side seams for flattering gathers across the midsection and a scooped bottom.
How to Create Ruching
Ruching is the technical term for the gathered look seen here. It adds dimension to sleeves and bodices, body to skirts, and also has the benefit of hiding problem spots. Best of all, ruching is super easy to do in some places on existing clothing, especially on garments that are bigger than you’d like them to be. It just takes a few quick steps!
1. Identify how big an area you’d like your ruching to cover.
2. Create an accordian fold with the fabric to guarantee equal spacing between gathers.
3. Test it out with a big safety pin to make sure you like it–just slide the pin edge through the folds, clip, and then see how it looks.
4. If you like the look, thread a needle with thread that coordinates with the garment. Send the needle through the folds just like you did the safety pin. Tie off and cut thread.
5. Adjust the spacing of the folds to your liking on the thread…and if it’s not right, it’s easy to fix, since it’s just a single line of thread! Do it again or take it out entirely with a single snip of the scissors if you change your mind. No risk!
A Fix for the Sleeves
The simplest fix for the sleeves, to give them a more fitted look, is to do a slender roll-up/fold. With the shirt off, roll up each sleeve to whatever height you’d like them to be–I usually fold the width of the bottom seam, turning it twice.
Then, with thread that matches the sleeve, tack it into place both at the inside seam and opposite. This should be enough to hold it in place, but if you notice it trying to unroll, add a couple more small, discreet tacks.
Wait, What’s a Tack?
A tack is quite simply a single stitch or two in one place, meant to hold layers of fabric together but not to create a seam.
And there you have it! A quick, basically free fix for those boxy tees that will only take you 5 minutes and will make your favorite shirts all the cuter!
W R I T E T O L A D Y M
Have a fashion question or a fabulous and frugal tip you’d like her to share in this column?
You can email Lady M directly at