Can Basketball Jerseys be Tailored?

Every sports fan has at least one jersey in their closet that they would like to alter the way it fits when worn.  Figuring out how to tailor a basketball jersey presents some interesting challenges of its own. The big question is, can the basketball jersey be tailored? 

Taking the basketball jersey to a professional tailor will yield the best results. However, if you are handy with a needle and thread, some basketball jerseys can be tailored right at home. An alternative to home hemming or having the jersey professionally tailored is having a dry cleaner perform minor alterations to the basketball jersey. 

Having an oversized basketball jersey needing to be tailored poses a significant challenge to transforming the shoulder area. Otherwise, there are several ways to shorten and hem a basketball jersey even without a tailor. Depending on the type of jersey that needs to be altered, the approach is essential.  

Take the Basketball Jersey to a Professional Tailor

Tailoring clothing is a trade that dates to the tenth century. A professional tailor designs, hems, fits, and finishes garments for individuals. Modern-day tailors still have the exact scope of work but can also do repairs and alterations to everyday clothing items. 

The most challenging part to fix on a basketball jersey is the shoulder area. Suppose the alteration that is required for your jersey involves the shoulders. It is difficult for anyone to remove the shoulder area, alter it and place it back onto the original garment with minimal visual changes. 

Although finding a sleeved basketball jersey may be a challenge, they are still out there in secondary markets, as well as from Mitchell and Ness. These jerseys are sometimes labeled T-shirts, not to confuse purchasers of current or previously available jerseys. These sleeved jerseys are still made with polyester and heat transferred logos with a rounded hem on the bottom.  

Tailoring clothing is a learned skill, and some tailors may not have the skills needed to alter a basketball jersey. Most tailors will make comfortable changes to the waist, sleeve length (not shoulder), and overall jersey length. Some jerseys are easy to fix yourself or by taking them to the dry cleaners for alterations. 

Take the Basketball Jersey to a Dry Cleaners for Minor Alterations

Taking the jersey to a person that does slight alterations on garments is a secondary option if the repair is not too complicated. Most places that do alterations mostly hem the garment to a better fitting size. 

The person working may have enough experience to hem a basketball jersey properly; however, there should be some questions before handing over the prized jersey. The biggest and most important question is, “How are you going to handle the seam of the jersey”? 

In some cases, the seam at the ends of the jersey is most challenging to correct.  The trim on the basketball jersey may or may not have to be removed to hem the jersey. Some dry-cleaning tailors are exceptionally talented and can easily make these repairs. 

Here are some more helpful questions to ask? 

  1. Are you completing the repair, or do you send this type of work out? 
  2. Are you able to use the same material as the jersey, including the thread?
  3. Is the repair going to be noticeable?  
  4. Are you able to match the current thread pattern? 

Need a quick fix before a game? Try this Fun Activity: 

Shorten your jersey with tape, just like in this video

Repair Jersey Yourself If You Are Handy with a Needle and Thread

You can shorten and reshape the hem on a store-bought jersey if you know how to hem a garment. There are some tutorials available from various outlets that will describe how to sew a garment properly. If the only repair that needs to be done is shortening the jersey, this simple process can save some money. 

Using a 2-inch fusible web to shape the hem into a contour after cutting is the first step. Cut slits in the web to make the web mold to the shape of the jerseys bottom hem.  Iron the fusible web on low heat or by the directions of the manufacture.  Press in a crease along your fold before removing the paper from the web. 

Remove the paper and iron the hem together, and start your stitching. Using a Serge to hem the garment is the best way.  A straight hem will be the strongest, and it is recommended to use a double narrow straight hem with knitted garments. 


Use a piece of colored low adhesive tape (such as painter’s tape or masking tape) to guide the machine’s stitch if you do not have a fabric guide. 

Not All Basketball Jerseys Are The Same

One of the biggest concerns people have is the type and price of the jersey they need to repair. The most common type is the swingman jersey, which tends to run close to an authentic jersey. The most accessible jerseys to hem are the Fastbreak jerseys. These jerseys tend to be a good fit on the shoulder area and loose for the rest. 

Since both the Fastbreak and the swingman jerseys use the traditional measurement options, these two are the most common that need to be altered. Authentic jerseys use the numbering size charts instead of the conventional measurement option. 

The replica or Fastbreak jersey is the most accessible material to work with since it will be made from a cotton blend or cotton alone. The numbering and names are heat transferred onto the jersey material. Shortening this material is the easiest to complete and can either be done at home or taken to a dry cleaner. 

The swingman Jersey is closest to the authentic jersey it can get. The swingman jersey has stitched on numbers with unique Twill® stitching. These materials are made from mostly polyester and nylon. Shortening this material should be handled by a professional tailor. Many separate minor alterations may be required for a proper fit. 

How to Purchase the Perfect Fit Basketball Jersey

Manufactures Nike and Mitchell & Ness classics are doing things to get a better fit for the jerseys being sold. Nike has introduced the flexible shoulder to help provide a better fit on their authentic jerseys. Use the size charts from the authorized dealer from which the jersey is being purchased.

If ordering a Fanatic Fastbreak Jersey, it helps to order a size larger to combat any shoulder fitting issues. Nike does a decent job with the shoulders on their swingman and authentic style jerseys. The authentic jersey is the best fitting but also the priciest. 

Keep in mind that an undershirt will add mass to the fitted form of the jersey. If you plan on wearing an undershirt with your jersey, then either going one size up or measuring yourself with an undershirt on are the two ways to combat receiving the incorrect size. 

4 Ways to ensure the perfect fit jersey

  1. Do your measurements every time you order, or at least every six months if you order frequently
  2. Please read the description; sometimes, the seller will tell you it runs small or actual to size
  3. Please don’t assume that washing the jersey will cause it to shrink to size; this method often fails
  4. Double-check, the good old measure twice rule


Taking an authentic jersey to the dry cleaners is not the best idea. The more expensive and custom-fit a jersey is when ordered, the more likely it should go to a professional tailor. Plus, if typed correctly, the need for a tailor decrease.  Taking the less expensive replicas (Nike’s swingman, Michael and Ness swingman, and Fanatics Fastbreak) to a professional tailor seems an okay option. The only style worth trying to fix without any professional knowledge is the Fastback. 

If you are curious about basketball apparel, be sure to check “Will Basketball Shorts Shrink in the Dryer?” & “Can Basketball Shoes Be Used for the Gym?“.

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