You can make an XL T shirt into a size small? Yes, you can. And it's easy.
Many times you have t shirts (often giveaways for events, etc.) that are WAY too big. They just print a batch of XL and figure they will fit everyone. These shirts either get worn as sleepwear or sit around waiting to become rags.
But often the shirt is from something special you've done and you want to wear it. The answer is to make it your size. And you can do that! This is something I've done for my daughter, with shirts from some of her college events, making the shirts a part of her wardrobe rather than a gift to Goodwill.
This is a great job for a serger, but I use a zigzag stitch on my regular machine and it works fine. This could also be done by hand by any competent stitcher.
This tutorial seems long because I have shown each step. After you've done this once, you will see how easy it really is!
Your most important tool is a shirt that fits; this will be your pattern. (The brown shirt is the pattern shirt here.)
1. Cut off the sleeves of the big shirt at the seams.
2. Lay the pattern shirt on the big shirt folding sleeves up and out of the way. Match the shoulder seams of the two shirts.
3. Cut shirt approx. 1/4 inch larger than pattern at each side, and 3/4 inch longer at bottom.
4. Turn shirt inside out and pin the side seams from armpit to bottom.
5. Sew along pinned sides 1/4 inch from edge. Then turn up the bottom and stitch around hem.
6. For sleeves the shortening is done from the cut edge, you will keep the sleeve hem as is. Use pattern shirt to cut sleeves, match hems and cut top edge 1/4 inch longer. Then cut seamed edge to narrow the sleeve leaving 1/4 inch to sew.
7. Turn sleeve right sides together and stitch underarm seam.
8. Turn sleeve right side out and pin inside shirt armhole opening. Match seam of sleeve with seam of shirt, make sure you have right sides together. Shirt is inside out, sleeve is rightside out, see photo.
9. Sew around pinned sleeve seam. This is not as hard as it looks. Just follow the edges around, and since the fabric stretches it goes together easily.
10. Last step, cut out that size label!
Enjoy a shirt that fits! This technique can be used to make a basic T into a "girly fit T", you would make the sleeves extra small and curve the side seams in at the waist. Use a well fitting girly T as your pattern.