Home » Featured » Turn a “too big” shirt into a Shirt with a Shirred Band.

Turn a “too big” shirt into a Shirt with a Shirred Band.


Good grief.  I forgot why being sick puts a wrench in things.  Especially when it’s one of those viruses that you aren’t quite sure has a handle on you or not…….so you still try to GO GO GO, pretending that it’s not there.  But then you finally realize it has a complete hold on you when you go in to pick up a crying baby from her nap and she lost her lunch all over her bed.  And then after cleaning her up and then trying to hold her, rock her, and calm her achey little body………she loses the rest of her stomach all over your chest and lap.  After a good soak in the tub for both of you, you realize that you really don’t feel much better than she does.  No more pretending, it’s time to stay in jammies and leave the kitchen a complete mess (even if it was on the “deep scrub” list for the day) and chill the rest of the day.  It’s no fun to be sick.  But my little baby girl hasn’t been sick much.  So I can’t complain.  But today is a better day.  Hooray.  (My antibodies are working over time I suppose!)


Onto more fun stuff.


Like buying a shirt at Target without trying it on and thinking it’s going to fit just fine. (Because let’s be real, who likes to try things on with 3 kids in a dressing room anyway??  Not me.  Because this is just a snippet of what I may hear;  “Mommy, why are you getting naked?”  “Mommy is that your bra?”  “Does daddy have a bra?”  “Mommy, will I have a bra one day?”  “Who’s under there mommy?”  “Owwwww, stop pushing me!” etc, etc, etc.)  Anyway, I decided to avoid any of that and snatched this little shirt up and was sure it would fit fine and just be a little flow-y and loose.  But once I got it home, it was loose alright.  And too long.  And really frumpy.  I can’t pass up a good ruffle front (and in coral no less) but my vision was different than how it actually looked on me.  I guess I should have corralled my kids into the dressing room afterall.  Haha.


However, instead of taking it back, I decided that I would change the look of it and cinch in the bottom and create a band of shirring that would sit on my hips.  And then the rest of the shirt could stay loose. But as long as something was cinched in, it would give the shirt some shape.





And turns out, I really like it.  Especially on one of those bloated/tired-of-sucking-it-in days.

 If you want the finished shirt to be even more flowy and loose up top, find a bigger shirt.  There are some tops that are really billowy and are made with more fullness, like peasant tops.  But if you only want it a little loose like mine, you don’t need it too huge/wide on you.



All it took was a few minutes to shirr it up……..and done.  (I know, I’m on a serious shirring kick lately.)




I know you have a few shirts that are too baggy, fit a little awkward, or maybe are leftover from a pregnancy(??).  Or maybe you have fallen in love with one of those loose and baggy tunic tops in the store but the cut of it doesn’t quite look right on you.  (Yeah, they rarely do for me either.  Don’t feel bad.)  So fix it.  And make it work for you.  Especially if you love the color/print…..and maybe found it on sale???  (I know, hard angle to see the band in the photos below…….I guess I may need longer arms.)



And if you STILL haven’t tried shirring, go on.  You may love it.  Elastic thread on the underside (that you put in your bobbin), regular thread on top.  (Full tutorial here.)



Sorry little coral shirt, you totally thought you were going back to the store, didn’t you? 



In case you can’t tell exactly how to do it by just looking at the pictures, I’ll explain:


You just sew one row of shirring at a time, all the way around the bottom of the shirt.  I started and stopped each row along one of the side seams of the shirt.  I also back-stitched after finishing one row, then lifted up the needle and jumped to the next row (about a 1/4 inch apart) without cutting threads.  Worked great.  I started my rows of shirring just above the shirt hem………but didn’t like how that ruffled at the bottom (like shown below) so I went back later and added another row of shirring closer to the bottom (that you can’t see here).  Just be sure to pull your fabric flat while sewing so that when you’re all done, the shirring will stretch in and out.  (More on shirring here.)


And like explained in the above link, I always steam my shirring to get a nice and even shirred look.  It also helps pull it all in……..especially the very bottom where I sewed over the bottom hem.  Because it was two layers of fabric, it shirred a little differently, but doesn’t matter one bit after you have the shirt on.


Then pull on your shirt and feel fabulous.  Because you tricked the original shirt designer and turned it into something that worked better for you. :)




P.S. sometimes some of you will ask in a comment why I take some of my clothing pictures on my mannequin and not myself.  Well, here’s why.  I can’t quite get any good full shot pictures of the item on myself, by myself.  My husband is never home when I need to take the finished product shot, and my arm is only so long.  Haha.  So sometimes I can’t quite get the image I need to explain the technique used when I take it of myself.  But other times I can get away with it.  Like today??  Hopefully??? :)


Ashley Johnston
  • Save

Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
  • Save


  1. Taylor says:

    This has been on my list, for a long time! I finally got around to it. :) It worked perfectly and now I can wear my shirt without it being baggy! Yay! Thanks for the tutorial. Blessings!

  2. danika says:

    I have this cute black shirt with great detail at the top, but every time I put it on I feel like a house. It’s got no shape, and every time I put it on, I immediately take it off. I’ve never shirred anything, but feel like I need to do this to this cute (on top) shirt that’s been hanging in my closet for far too long.

    So, my question: Is shirring better to do with a stretchy, soft cotton, or does it work well with any lightweight fabric. This shirt I have is 100% cotton, but it’s thin, and kind of stiff, I guess you could say. I’d just hope that it wouldn’t hang funny after shirring since it’s not a drapey, flowy fabric. Thoughts??

  3. Debbie says:

    Just tried this and it worked great – thanks!

  4. Autumn says:

    Fabulous look!

    The photos taken yourself are great, too. I want to start doing some blog posts on my sewing projects, I’m thinking to take the pics on a mannequin but maybe I’ll try on myself too. My fat tummy days are definitely worse than yours though!

    I have a load of too big shirts to try this on, buys from the bargain rail of my favorite charity shop (thrift store).

    The other place this technique could be good is non-stretch dress shirts. I have one nice work one which came with just a little bit of shirring in the back panel to give the waist some shape, looks so much better than a baggy loose top! I have a couple of one-size-too big work shirts to try this on.

  5. Sharon H says:

    What an awesome idea and great job taking the pics! I also loved your dressing room story. These instructions will come in very handy as most everything I buy is second hand or clearance.

  6. trish emanuele says:

    I trust you and your daughter are both well by now. Good job on the shirring! What a difference that makes. I’ll be sure to try it. It’s one of those things I’ve not done yet. Excited to try something new.

  7. gerry white says:

    I am having a gastric bypass next week and this has solved a lot of problems for me. I’ll still be able to wear some of my shirts HOORAY!!! hERE’S TO HAPPY SHIRRING.

  8. Jana says:

    Hi Ashley, I bought a shirt over the weekend that was loose and flow-y and a bit too long (since I’m a bit too short). I decided to use this tutorial and try some shirring at the bottom. I also pulled out another shirt in my closet that I really like, but hardly ever wear because I felt like it was just a tad long and looked a bit frumpy on my shorter frame…

    Anyway, I tried the shirring technique after reading through your tutorial and helpful hints. It worked like a breeze. I was worried the elastic thread would be hard to work with, but it was as easy as you said it would be. The shirts fit 1000% better now…so excited! One was new, but the other shirt I’ve had for awhile, but I feel like it is a new shirt because I feel so much better in it (wore it yesterday). I read your blog faithfully, but hardly ever comment. I love all of your creative projects! Don’t stop blogging!

  9. Nancy says:

    THANK YOU! Just did this with a shirt that looked like a tent on me-now-ADORBS!!!

  10. Emily says:

    So nice! I love it and now I’m thinking why didn’t I think of this. (probably because I’ve never shirred a thing before) I still have my post pregnancy body and a bunch of baggy shirts. I love the synched look.
    Anyway, can you shirr a satiny/polyester fabric shirt?

  11. Katie says:

    I bought a shirt from the thrift store last week and it was too baggy. Once I saw this, I knew I wanted to shirr my shirt. It turned out awesome and I love this shirt now. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  12. Debbie says:

    How do you load your bobbin? By hand?

  13. Erin G says:

    I feel like this would also be a great soloution to tenty maternity shirts!

  14. Maureen M. says:

    Adorable!! You make me laugh because I can see myself doing the same thing (minus the fabulous idea and great tutorial). Who can resist coral and a great ruffle? Thank you for all your great ideas and for sharing them! Hope everyone else stays healthy :)

  15. PJ says:

    I have several tshirts that have stretched out over the hip area and you have saved the day! Thank you!

  16. LENA says:

    I like your blog, you are so brilliant

  17. Megan says:

    Love your blog! Gave you an award to let others know about you too :D

  18. Melissa says:

    I’m so sorry you and your little one were sick. Cleaning up throw-up is the worst job for moms! But can I just say you can amazing! I’m in need of some new maternity clothing and hate to pay the Motherhood store prices. With just a little elastic thread and cheap extra large clothing (AND your shirring tutorial) I can save a bundle thanks!

  19. partycraftsecrets says:

    sooo jealous of anyone who can sew – well done!! x

  20. Kara says:

    Awesome! I have a question, did you add elastic on the very bottom of the dress, like if you were making a shirred skirt and have the elastic before the shirring? Thanks!!

    1. Ashley says:

      No, I didn’t. But if you were working with a really large shirt or even one that is kind of thick and isn’t shirring in tight enough for you, you could add elastic to the bottom to help cinch it all in. But most likely, you won’t need to.


  21. Anonymous says:

    This looks great! You could always try a tripod! :)

  22. Janae Anderson says:

    I hope you guys get feeling better. The shirt turned out darling! I enjoyed your attempt at taking the pictures yourself…I think it shows off your charm and personality :)

  23. Laura says:

    For your PS – I just saw the “Flashpoint PX202 4 Section 21″ Extender Monopod – Black” on Adorama’s website… It’s only $12.95 and would TOTALLY fix your problems with taking pictures of yourself, LOL! Love your blog and kudos on the cute shirt!

  24. Andi S says:

    I love it! I’m wondering how many shirts in my closet I can go fix now and what else I can create with shirring. This is fabulous!

  25. Lauren Cioffi says:

    I love this! I just joined the world of sowing and can’t wait to try this with some of my old shirts. My first time sowing I took in a dress that was too big for me.

    For those of you beginners looking for a project, visit my blog, Cookies with Cronkite, where I post about diy projects and fashion.

    You can learn how to take in a dress.

  26. Christine says:

    Great idea! About the pictures, you’ll just have to have your daughter start taking the pictures!

  27. Delia says:

    This is an adorable shirt! You are a gem Ashley. :)

  28. Kathy says:

    Wow – I love this idea! My daughter & I were at the Goodwill recently, and found a cute shirt that was a beautiful fabric but way too big for either of us. I commented that it would make some awesome fabric flowers and my daughter said, “No, don’t cut it up, Ashley!” :) Can you tell I like your website? ;) Thanks for sharing your talents with us!

  29. Emily Bucher says:

    I must say that is beautiful! Now to try it on my own clothing will be the test. :)

  30. Ashley says:

    oh!!! I love your tutorials…these last 3 you have posted have me checking my c daughter’s closet, my closet, and goodwill on a nearly everyday basis to see if I can snag any good deals to turn them into something fabulous!!! Love can’t describe my feelings toward all the new, awesome things i am making!! Seriously, you are a sewing genius!

  31. Sami says:

    A very clever idea! Hope you and your little girl are feeling better.

  32. Lorie says:

    Such a great tutorial!!! And I love the way a shirred shirt fits on almost everyone!

  33. Colette says:

    You improved the shirt for the better. So awesome! Makes me want to find a shirt is I can do this too!

  34. Sarah says:

    Great idea!! I loved it!! I’m sure i have several shirts in my closet that could use this trick!! Thanks!!

  35. Jodi says:

    This is perfect for the shirt I have on right now!! It’s always bugged me that it’s too loose untucked, but I don’t like it tucked in either. Perfect solution!!

  36. Tina says:

    Now I can keep my big tops YAY!

  37. Lynette says:

    Ooh, I may have to keep my eye out for a top like this. It would be perfect for my post pregnancy body. I love how that top turned out! And I love shirring. It’s way fast, way easy, and turns out super cute (even if the lines aren’t straight! mine never are!) :)

  38. sierra says:

    Hey! I love reading your site….I think I’ve made nearly everything on it! :) You are very good at explaining things and your pictures are wonderful! Anyways….I love the shirring look, but can’t get it to work. I have a brother machine and have heard that in order for it to work on a brother machine you need to take out the bobbin cartridge (???) and tighten the tension with a screw driver. Even after doing this, it’s not working. I’ve steamed it afterwards, I’ve adjusted the tension, nothing is making it bunch up like it should. Any ideas?

  39. Jolynn says:

    I loved reading the dressing room comments… too true! You have a real talent for making something you already have even better!

  40. Becca says:

    Your dressing room comments killed me. I can totally relate, expecially since I only have boys. One day my 4 y.o. son walked in on me, pointed, and yelled, “Boobs!” Nice.

    I have a clearance Target shirt that I was looking at the other day and thought, “This needs something.” Totally doing this. Thanks.

  41. Anonymous says:

    thats great, glad it worked out for you in the end, i know…shopping trips can be sooo annoying, when it comes to fitting it, with and without kids!

    p.s. hope the baby girl gets better

  42. Pippa says:

    Love the retrofit! Hope baby girl gets better soon … our little cutenesses do seem to bounce back so much more quickly than, say, us mommas – ack ; ) Best wishes!

  43. DSeattle says:

    This is awesome! I love, love, LOVE the look.

  44. ♥Michelle says:

    Great idea I have to try this! Yours turned out so good. I love it!

    Have a lovely afternoon

  45. Tracy says:

    I think the clearance section just got a little easier to shop…. Hope baby and you are back to normal!

  46. Natalie says:

    I totally have a shirt in mind I’d love to do this to. It was a mega-good deal, like one you can’t pass up, but it’s too loose and billowy. Thanks for the great idea!

  47. Anna says:

    Thank you for this. I have a shirt that I have been meaning to do this but haven’t figured out how to do it or if it would turn out right. This is the motivation I need to finish the shirt. Yours looks so cute!

  48. tinajo says:

    It look SO much better, well done! I’ve nevervtried that but you’ve got me curious! :-)

  49. Becca @ Sweet Swan Songs says:

    That turned out SOOOO cute! And I totally didn’t notice that you took the pictures yourself at first- they turned out well too! Way to save a cute shirt from being frumpy!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

Back to Top
Share via
Copy link