shirt shortening, round 1

Here’s another low-risk project to get the sewing juices flowing.

My husband bought four linen-cotton shirts – same cut, different colours – something like 5 years ago. He once mentioned that he found them a little long and if I felt like shortening them, it wouldn’t go amiss. At least I think that’s what he said – I probably wasn’t paying attention 😉

I successfully shortened all 4 shirts over the course of a week and a half. And the rather long initial delay followed by the choice to do them now has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I have a few shirts of my own that I’ve decided to shorten, nor the idea that it might be wise to have a go at a simple shortening operation before tackling my own shirts, which require some manner of reshaping. Nothing at all.

It seems to me that the main reason why I didn’t jump in on this alteration in the first place was because I got overwhelmed with picky, non-structural details. One intimidating detail was the odd little rectangular patch wrapping front-to-back around the hem at the side seams; I expected grief from fiddling with little bits of fabric, trying to press straight SAs, and negotiating thick and thin bits. I gave myself permission to just skip them.

The other item was a little hem detail at the bottom of the buttonhole placket where the raw edge is folded to the wrong side in such a way as to make a little triangle. I didn’t know how it was done and it seemed wrong somehow to just cut it off. I opened it up and figured it out and I decided (a) I kinda liked the look, and more importantly (b) it was actually quite easy. In fact, it’s a rather tidy alternative to the double-fold hem through a squillion layers – provided the shirt has a separate placket piece.

One of the shirts before shortening. He’s 6’/185cm tall, but the shirt this length makes him look a little schlumpy (though in this photo it doesn’t look too bad).

I got M to put on one of the shirts and eyeball how much shorter it should be. I added back ½” out of an abundance of caution, then remembered to allow another ½” for the hem allowance. The contour of the shirttail hem is the same.

When it came time to finish the hem, I pressed up the ½”, then folded the raw edge in and pressed again. The linen-cotton blend pressed beautifully. As it happens, the new hem width was pretty much bang on the same as the original. I used the same stitch length too, which worked out to about 1.8 – pretty small but an apparent indicator of good quality. The finished bottom edge is now 3″ higher than it was.

The shirt after. The trousers are the same cut in both photos. Most obvious difference is where the hem falls in relation to the cuff.

Each shirt took between around 60-90 min. While it got rather dull by shirt #4, it’s nice to have a project where you know how to do each step. Even if it is for someone else.

Shortened shirts.

Shirts 1 and 3 are woven stripes. Shirt 4 is solid. Shirt 2 is shot – red with white for a pink effect. Funny thing: I have reached critical mass with thread such that I almost always have a decent match on hand for any project, even if it’s not a perfect match. But I generally hate pink, so the best thread I had was the neon candyfloss colour that I bought because it was on sale and hideous, and would therefore be visible as basting on anything I might possibly make.

Also, it was Noko’s 19th birthday yesterday (as near as I can figure), so here’s a slightly out-of-focus Noko who is happy to be getting skritches.

Noko enjoying skritches.


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
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