For some reason, the realization that you have a rip in the armpit of your shirt always happens in public. Once you've gotten over the embarrassment, you'll probably want to fix your shirt. Here's how to fix an armpit rip with easy-to-follow illustrations.
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Types of Armpit Rips
What kind of rip you've got in the armpit of your shirt will determine the method we use to fix it. If just one side of the sleeve seam is damaged, then we will go with a triangle-shaped fix. If it is a total armpit blow-out, we'll be doing a diamond-shaped fix.
We'll show you how to fix a large diamond-shaped hole, and later, there are special instructions for small holes.
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Fix a Large Armpit Hole (Diamond-Shaped)
First, trim the excess threads to create a solid diamond shape. Then, zigzag stitch all the way around your diamond to prevent the fabric from unraveling even more.
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How to Make a Gusset
To repair the armpit in your shirt, we'll be creating a 'gusset'. This is a stretchy patch that should match the fabric of your shirt. Gussets can also be used to add stretch to any sleeve that is tight. If you have trouble raising up your arms because of tight sleeves, adding gussets should give you more room to stretch. That's probably how your shirt got a hole in the armpit in the first place.
A gusset is cut on the bias of the fabric, which means on the diagonal of the threads that are woven to create the fabric. See the illustration above. The straight grain and cross grain intersect to make the material. Cut a gusset so that these lines are on a diagonal. This makes the gusset stretchy in the direction that you need it to be.
You'll need to cut a gusset that is at least 5/8" larger than the hole in your armpit.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Sew the Gusset to the Shirt
Turn the shirt inside-out, and put the diamond-shaped gusset face-down on the opening.
Position the gusset on the diamond-shaped hole so that the right-side of the gusset edges and hole fabric edges are together. Pin the gusset and shirt together. Stitch the patch to the edges of the hole, leaving 5/8" seam allowance, as shown.
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Fix a Small Armpit Hole (Triangle-Shaped)
Fixing a small armpit hole is much like fixing a large one. Trim excess thread away from the hole, and open up the sleeve seams at least an inch on either side. We are creating a clean, triangular shape, as shown above.
Position the gusset on the triangular hole so that the right-side of the gusset edges and hole fabric edges are together. Pin the gusset and shirt together. Stitch the patch to the edges of the hole, leaving 5/8" seam allowance.
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Top Stitch the Gussets to Secure
Press the seams away from the gusset, then turn your shirt right-side out. Top stitch around the gusset, sewing over the seam allowance on the other side. This should strengthen the armpit area, which you are clearly rough on.
Try inserting gussets into any shirt that is a little tight in the armpits. This will prevent holes in the future and generally make you feel more comfortable in stiff fabrics.