A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: alteration

I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.

I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.

I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.

I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.

Planned changes

  • Eliminate button band again
  • Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
  • Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
  • Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
  • Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
  • Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.

So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.

The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.


I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.

Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.

I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.

Notes:

  • Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them

Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining

Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)

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When I was in Indonesia last year, I was drawn to an embroidered dress in a vintage shop, despite the fact that I knew the shape of the dress wasn’t for me. A year later, I have finally finished converting the dress into a skirt.

This is the dress as I bought it. The bust and top back are made from a jersey material, which complicated the alteration.

This is what the skirt looked like partway through. I’m not going to share a vast amount of information about the alteration because I just did it how I felt, and I’m fairly sure there would have been a much better way to go about it.

Basically I cut off the jersey part of the dress, and used the under-bust part as the waistband. The dress was already partially elasticated- you may be able to tell where the elastic is in the picture below. I added a thicker strip of elastic, partly to disguise where I cut the jersey. I recycled the strips of embroidered woven fabric to cover the elastic at the back. It buttons to the elastic, and to itself, to keep the two halves together and flat. I may remove this part in future and just leave the elastic visible- I’ll see how the skirt wears before making a decision.

Here’s a side view.

Overall, I am fairly happy with the finished product. I just love the embroidery, which is why I purchased the dress in the first place. The fabric isn’t drapey at all (maybe it’s a light cotton?), so for me it’s not ideal for a skirt of this style, but I think it’s fine overall.


I managed to finish my Wrangler denim shirt-ultimate shirt sewing mashup recently. Overall, I’m quite happy with how it turned out, though I think I will make this shirt in a smaller size if I make more in future using heavier fabrics.

When I wrote my previous post about modifying this giant Wrangler shirt, I had actually nearly finished it. One step remained. The curved hem. As I have previously documented, curved hems are not my friend. My makes normally end up having a slightly stretched-looking bit that I have to ignore. Doing a curved hem on denim? Ugh.

I previously attempted this twice, spending at least half an hour carefully pressing and pinning the fabric, and both times the hem ended up twisted. A lady on my Ultimate Shirt course recommended starting the process at the highest point of the hem- where it hits above the hip. This turned out to be a top tip!

There are a few little tucks and untidy bits but overall this is the best hem I have managed so far. Ignore the fact that I didn’t bother to finish any of my seams. Sometimes I am a very lazy crafter.

Because of the way the original shirt was cut, the patch pockets on the front have come out a bit high. This is actually quite useful as it means my phone sits nicely against my chest, but it looks a little strange.

I got a little bit of time to get some pictures of this shirt. I definitely think it looks better worn tucked it, but I’ll take it on holiday with me and see how it works thrown over other things in the evenings. In this picture, I am trying to figure out the ‘remote operation’ feature on my camera.

Here I am still not understanding how it works.

Basically I was only able to take decent pictures of my back.

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It. Size 14 at bust graded down to 12 at the waist

Fabric: Reclaimed from an oversized vintage shirt


I bought this cool patterned shirt in a vintage shop in St Albans a while ago. I initially planned to wear it oversized, but that’s not really my style so it’s only been out of the wardrobe a few times.

turquoise-shirt-and-cowl

Not ideal that the only pic I have of this shirt is Anna’s Instagram photo of my semi-ironic hipster posing, but that reveals how seldom I have worn this garment despite falling in love with the pattern.

I decided to try putting my new shirt-making skills into effect by transforming this oversized shirt into a fitted shirt.


Since the shirt is fastened by studs, I was a little limited on what I could do without way more effort than I was prepared to expend. This meant no attempts at pattern matching. The pattern is very odd and the diamonds seem to be in a fairly random pattern, so matching would have been difficult anyway (I tell myself).

I vaguely hoped I could just modify the shirt by running some new lines of stitching down the side seams and sleeves, but that would have resulted in something very amateur looking. This meant I had to cut out new back, fronts and sleeves from the existing fabric.


I was lucky in that the collar and cuffs are pretty close to the size in the Ultimate Shirt, which cut out a hell of a lot of labour. Weird to think that these little details are what makes creating a shirt such a challenge.


So far I am very happy with the result I have achieved. This modification took me around six hours, and helped to solidify my understanding of how to make a shirt. I feel confident that the Ultimate Shirt would work and look cute in a heavier fabric.

Once I finish the hem, I will see how often I wear this shirt. Though I like the fit, I think that the oddness of the diamond pattern is more obvious now that the shirt is smaller. Might not be as much of an issue if I wear this tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Dyeing could also be an option. I’m going to take this shirt to class tomorrow as I would consider making a smaller size in future.

I have a feeling I will still wear it as long-sleeved work shirts that don’t gape at the bust are a massive hole in my wardrobe. Now I need to tackle the SOI Pencil Skirt pattern…

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It (size 14 grading down to 12 at the waist)

Fabric: Salvaged from an oversized vintage Wrangler shirt


I finished my upcycle project! Check these bad boys out.

After my last post, I got some time with a sewing machine, so I re-did the stitching I undid before and made up my ears.

While I was playing around with ear placement, I thought it looked much cuter to have the ears on the pocket rather than the bib of the dungarees.

I liked it so much that I went ahead and stitched the ears in place.

Sewing through so many layers of denim was a big challenge for the machine. I found I had more control winding the stitches by hand rather than using the foot pedal on the thickest parts. My stitching is not totally straight but it’s the best I can do.

The next step was to dye the denim. I didn’t do it in this order for any particular reason, it was just when I got a chance to sew, or when the dye I ordered arrived.

I was a bit worried that the dye job wouldn’t go well because the things I dyed indigo didn’t come out how I imagined. I even dreamt that the colour had leached out of the denim overnight. However, I followed the instructions more closely this time and that made a big difference.

As I had suspected might happen, the stitching didn’t take any dye so now it really pops against the black, but I think I quite like it.


I was starting to sense the finish line of this project at last. I took some time to practise different cat faces on paper to decide what I thought was cutest. I think moustache cat was the most fun, but in the end eyelash cat won out in a tight race.


Actually painting the design on the pocket caused me a lot of apprehension. The cat face will be pretty noticeable, so any errors will really draw the eye.


The next step was to shape the curved patch pocket. I read a couple of tutorials that recommended using a cardboard template to press it in place. I did this while I ironed the cat face design to make it washable.

I then carefully pinned the pocket in place and checked it lined up before stitching. I checked the alignment in the mirror and added another line of stitching for strength.


Here is a simple alteration, converting a dress into a skirt. I really liked the print and colour of this shift dress, but I always had an issue with the square neckline. I also had a skirt-shaped gap in my summer wardrobe and I was inspired by this upcycling challenge. I’m pleased to say that the gap has now been filled.


Yay!

This is what I started with.  

With an alteration like this, it’s important to look at how the garment is constructed. I was lucky that this is actually an extremely well constructed dress, which made my job easy.

I unpicked the fabric and lining from the waistband and waistband facing.

I then had to shorten the zip. To do this, make sure the zipper pull is down below where you cut, or you will never be able to get it back up. I cut about an inch above the waistband, tucked the ends between the waistband and facing, and stitched down to hide. I also hand-stitched heavily near the top of the zip to stop the pull slipping off.  

It was then a simple matter to hand-stitch the top hem.  

I concealed my stitches in the ditch between the waistband and piping at the top.


Overall I was really pleased with the skirt my mum and I made a couple of months ago. However, every time I wore it, I remembered why I almost never buy garments that don’t have pockets in them. Women’s clothing is such a pain for this! I tire very quickly of having to store my phone in my bra. So I decided that emergency pocket surgery was the only option.
This is what it came out like. The hint of white is the pocket lining. The pocket does change the line of the skirt, but for me it’s worth it.

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Here’s how I did it. The seam of the skirt originally looked like this. Unpick the waistband over the seam.

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This is a basic pocket shape. Cut it to your chosen dimensions with right sides facing. Your hand will go in the long, non-shaped side so fold the fabric on the opposite side.

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I started by sewing the right side of the pocket you can see above to the right side of the seam, with right sides facing. Don’t unpick the seam first as it provides stability and will help the pocket to hang straight. Sew the pocket high enough that you can catch the top when you re-stitch the waistband.
Next, sew the other side of the pocket to the left side of the seam, again with right sides facing.

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Next, stitch around the pocket.

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Ensure there are no gaps between the stitching on the side seams and around the pocket, or you’ll have big old holes in ya pocket. If you have an overlocker, overlock the edge of the pocket for added strength. You could also add a second line of stitching if your mum doesn’t have an overlocker.

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Now it’s time to re-stitch the waistband. I have my pocket facing left because my right hand will be going into the pocket this way. Top-stitch carefully, you’re going through a lot of layers of fabric.

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Stick a fork in your pocket, it’s done! I was hoping the pocket would be hidden underneath one of my box pleats for added security, but it wasn’t possible to do it this way. So instead, I hand sewed a hook and eye over the pocket to close the pleat and hide the pocket. Here I am modelling.