Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tips and Tricks: Adjusting the Fit

Ever find a pair of jeans that fit great except that they are a little too big in the waist? Or perhaps a shirt or jacket or maybe even a dress that is too tight at the armpits? Sometimes I buy things that don't quite fit me because I like them too much to pass up. Then I get home and have to figure out how to make them work. I wanted to share with you a few fixes that I came up with for items like this.

First, jeans that are too big in the waist. This seems like a frequent problem. The jeans that fit in the waist are too tight around the hips, and those that fit right in the hips are too big in the waist. Jean waistbands pretty thick, so taking tucks in them results in bulky bumps that are rather uncomfortable. I discovered a way to make the waistband smaller while still keeping it flat and smooth.

First, cut some slits in the waistband. The slits should go most of the way through the waistband but not cut through it completely.

Overlap the cut edges about 1/4" and pin in place.

Sew together with a zig-zag stitch.

And that's it! You can do this as many times as you need to in different places around the waist until the jeans fit just right. I always wear shirts untucked over my jeans, so I used a light colored thread that matched the thread on the rest of the jeans. If you want to make the stitches more invisible, use thread that matches the color of the jeans themselves.

Now for the second fix: shirts, dresses, or jackets that are too small at the armpits. This fix has some strings attached. First, it works best with knit fabrics - things that are at least a little stretchy. Secondly, the item that you are working with needs to be a little big. You have to be able to take it in a bit on the sides or take darts in the back so you have some extra fabric to work with. The idea is to take fabric from somewhere on the item of clothing and use it to create inserts for the sleeves. Let me show you how I did this on a flyaway cardigan.

I seam ripped a few inches of the sleeve just under the armpit, disconnecting it from the top. I also seam ripped a little ways down the sleeve seam.

The cardigan was a bit wide on me, so I took a couple of darts in the back and trimmed the extra fabric.

I then used that extra fabric to make triangle inserts for the sleeves. (The seams are a little hard to see in this fabric, so I outlined them to make them clearer.)

Expanding the sleeves about an inch meant that they were now too wide for the armholes. But the whole point of the project was to make the armholes wider. Remember the opening I had seam ripped in the armpit at the beginning? I cut the armholes a little deeper in that opening to make room for the wider sleeve.

Then I sewed the up the armpit seam.

It fits much better, and the insert is almost invisible. No one will ever know. Except you blog readers.

Do you have any genius alterations that you would like to share? Any tips and tricks for making clothes fit just right? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Bright Idea

Easter was a while ago, but here I am finally getting around to posting about an Easter sewing project I did for a family in my church. A church friend asked me to make dresses for her three girls. The fabric she gave me to use was so bright and cheery, perfect for spring/summer dresses. Working with fun fabric makes projects that much more enjoyable!

There was plenty of fabric left over after the dresses were finished, and the mom came up with the wonderful idea of getting a matching jacket made for herself. She gave me a jacket of her own to use as a pattern and told me to use the colors as I thought best to create sort of a patchwork look. I was having a little trouble "seeing" it in my head, so I used a picture of the original jacket and some of my favorite photo editing programs to create a few different options.

Original jacket:

Color options for new jacket:

We decided on option #3. I drafted the pattern using tracing paper and lots of measuring. It was kind of like a puzzle the way all the pieces fit together. I enjoy projects where I have to copy something - figure out how to make it look like the original. Here is the finished jacket and the lovely woman I made it for:

Beautiful family! They even found an orange bow tie for their little boy. So cute!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Seeing Potential

I love having the ability to see potential in things - to pull out a very old-fashioned dress from a thrift store rack and know that I could make it into something stylish and pretty. Sometimes it's a little difficult. Sometimes I have to stare at the item of clothing for a while and then close my eyes and try to imagine...but with this beautifully-colored dress it was a no-brainer. I just couldn't pass up such a wonderful opportunity for a makeover!

The skirt was perfect: a lovely, flowy chiffon. I knew I didn't have to make any changes there. But the top needed some work. The skirt was sewn at the waist to the lining of the top. I sewed the chiffon and lining together just below the waist to keep them together and then cut the skirt off of the top.

That done, I completely took apart the top, removing the lining and the sleeves. Then I cut the lace down to a more fitted shape.

The lining had no stretch to it, and as I wanted to create a fitted top that didn't need a zipper, I knew I was going to need a stretchy fabric. A trip to the thrift store yielded a T-shirt that was just the right color.

I sewed the skirt and top together again, gathering the skirt a little to make it the right size.

I also shortened the sleeves a bit, sewed them in to make them smaller, and reattached them to the top. I finished off the neckline with some facing.

Makeover complete! I debuted the dress at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. Because if you are in NYC, you might as well go see an opera at the Met, and if you go see an opera at a place as amazing as the Met, you might as well dress up for it, even if it is cold and windy and raining. At least, that's what I think.