How to Add Decorative Fabric to a Shirt or Blouse to Make It Larger

Stack of colorful fabrics

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Many people have shirts or blouses in the closet that do not fit well. You may love the fabric or the color, or it may be too expensive to discard. It is generally easy to reduce the size of a shirt or blouse, but making it larger is trickier. Adding extra fabric to the shirt, in the right areas, can help increase the size of your shirt. In fact, a decorative fabric may give it a new look and help save some money as well.

Choose the right decorative fabric. It should match your shirt’s color or provide a good contrast to it. The type of fabric also matters. Adding a cotton decorative fabric to a silk blouse may not be the best idea. The textures of the new fabric should match that of your shirt or blouse.

Identify the parts of the shirt or blouse that need to be extended. Some may need the shirt to be larger across the bustline and waist -- adding fabric to both sides -- while others may want additional room around the arms, adding fabric in that area.

Open the seams of the side or underarms of the shirt, with a seam ripper. For side seams, begin at the bottom of the shirt and remove the stitching until you reach within 3 inches of the underarm seam. If you are altering the underarm, cut the stitches to open the seam 2 1/2 inches toward the side of the shirt and 2 1/2 inches along the sleeves.

Cut a 3-inch square piece of the decorative fabric or gusset to attach to the underarms. For side seam, place the open shirt on yourself and measure the amount of fabric that is needed for the two sides of the shirt to meet comfortably in the middle. Then cut a triangular piece of the decorative fabric, 2 inches wider than the desired width.

Place the decorative gusset in place and hand-sew with a needle and matching thread. Baste with long stitches to hold the fabric in position. For side seams, place the triangular gusset in position with the pointed end toward the top of the blouse and base toward the bottom of the blouse. Baste with long stitches.

Use a sewing machine to secure the decorative fabric and the stitches. Trim the additional decorative fabric with scissors and stitch the seam using the zigzag setting.

Press the shirt or blouse to finish the look and to remove the folds of the old seam.