How to Fix a Ripped Armpit in Minutes

01
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How to Fix an Armpit Rip

A man's shirt rips at the arm seam.
Katja Zimmermann / Getty Images

For some reason, the realization that I have a rip in the armpit of my shirt always happens in public. Hopefully, you've got some more luck than me, and your holey armpit shame happens at home. I'll show you how to fix an armpit rip with my easy-to-follow illustrations.

What You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Cloth to match the shirt
  • Measuring Tape
  • Sewing Machine or needle & thread

 

02
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Types of Armpit Rips

Fix Rip in Armpit with Gussets
Fix Rips in Armpits with Gussets. Rain Blanken

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.​

I'll show you how to fix a large diamond-shaped hole, and later, there are special instructions for small holes.

03
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Fix a Large Armpit Hole (Diamond-Shaped)

Fix Tear in Armpit
Fix Tear in Armpit. Rain Blanken

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.

04
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How to Make a Gusset

How to Make a Gusset
How to Make a Gusset. Rain Blanken

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 my illustration above. The straight grain and crossgrain 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.

05
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Sew the Gusset to the Shirt

Sew an Armpit Gusset
Sew an Armpit Gusset. Rain Blanken

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.

06
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Fix a Small Armpit Hole (Triangle-Shaped)

Triangle Armpit Gusset
Triangle Armpit Gusset. Rain Blanken

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.

07
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Top Stitch the Gussets to Secure

Repair Armpit Holes
Top Stitch to Secure. Rain Blanken

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.