“My Buzz shirt does not fit anymore.” announced the husband the other day. And, its true. With his weight loss, his buzz shirt does not fit him well at all anymore. This shirt was always overly large on him because it’s fabric stretched so much when I was making it, that now it is really just too big for him to wear. I explained to the husband that I don’t unpick so therefore I could not fix his Buzz shirt but that I could start again and make him a smaller Buzz shirt. “But, its my favorite. Can’t you just make it smaller?” replied the husband. After rolling my eyes, I decided that yes, I can fix his Buzz shirt. It was time for me to get over my issues with unpicking, bite the bullet and try altering a few of our older larger shirts.
To start this journey, I examined the Buzz shirt closely. I was not going to go spend time altering a shirt that was already wearing out, but the Buzz shirt seemed to be in pretty good shape still, so I got started. I noticed quickly that the same alterations that I had made to the husband’s shirt pattern were the same alterations that the Buzz shirt needed. This made perfectly good sense since I was dealing with the same pattern. So, just like on his shirt pattern, I needed to take some out of the shoulder seams to bring the neck line up more around the the husband’s neck. This meant the the collar was going to need to be removed so I could get to the shoulder seams. With that, the unpicking began.
I started the unpicking process by removing the twill tape from the collar, then I unpicked the facings from the shoulder seams. Next came the actual unpicking of the collar from the shirt. I wish I had not been so careful in the construction of the collar in the first place, like backing stitch and double stitching where I felt it needed reinforcement. Not doing those things would have made the unpicking easier. But I also knew full well that when I sewed the collar back on I would be following my same techniques so that I had made a good sturdy shirt. I decided that I did not need to remove the collar completely from the shirt. Because the alteration was in the shoulder seams and not the tab front, I only needed to unpick to just past the shoulder seams. On the husbands shirt pattern I had raised the front of the neck 1/2 inch but I did not know how to add that 1/2 inch to the already made shirt so I took a little more off the shoulder seams than I did on the pattern to help draw the front of the neck up a little more.
After removing the desired amount from the shoulder seams, it was time to sew the collar back on. I noticed right away that now the collar was too big. I thought about trying to find the scraps from the Buzz shirt and make a whole new collar but then decided to just remove the excess and then put a seam up the center back of the collar. I often put a seam in the center back of the husband’s collars. When I am making the husband a new shirt and don’t quite have enough fabric, I can put a center seam in the collar and it can be made with much less fabric. So, I saw no problem in adding a center seam to the Buzz shirt collar to make it smaller. The collar sewed back on smoothly. Because of the easing slits that had been cut when the collar was first stitched on, I had a larger seam allowance when I reattached the collar but not enough that I think it made any difference.
After completing the collar, I had the husband try the shirt on. The alternations seemed to be good, the neck line was smaller and closer to the neck and taking the extra out of the shoulders seem to lift the front up more. I would have liked the front up even more but it was still acceptable.
Next I planned to take the 1/2 inch out of the sides seams like I did on the husband’s pattern, but the husband said no. He wanted the roominess of the shirt left in but he did want the hems shorter. This was an easy fix. Because I was leaving the roominess in the sides of the shirt, I did not fuss about lifting the side slits up with the shortening of the hem. The husband would still be able to easily sit even if the side slit were lower and smaller. So, I cut 1 inch off the hem and gave the shirt a new 1 inch hem. Because of the stretch, the Buzz shirt had always been longer than the husband’s other shirts. With the new hem, the Buzz shirt is now the same length as the husband’s other shirts so it could be a little shorter, but not enough that I was willing to redo the hems.
With that the Buzz shirt was altered and ready for the wear test. Upon first trying the newly altered Buzz shirt on, the husband said the fit was fine. After wearing the shirt, he still says the fit is fine but I have noticed that I could have taken just a little bit more out, probably due to the stretch in the fabric, but not so much that I would be willing to unpick the collar again. What I did learn was that the altering of the shirt was not that big of a deal and that I did not die from having to do some unpicking. Although the unpicking was not fun, it was not the problem I was making it out to be. I thought the altering of the shirt would take weeks to finish but it really only took a couple of hours. I was very pleased with the short amount of time required and with the end results. So I will say that I will no longer be afraid to alter any of the other shirts that the husband may want fixed, even though I would still rather start from scratch and make a new shirt.