Browse Tag: alterations

How to Hem Jeans

If you cannot view this video please view it on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3_lYrfOSN0

I went through all my blog posts and was surprised to see I haven’t posted a tutorial on how to hem your jeans or pants! I have done this basic tutorial in the form of a YouTube video so that you can follow step by step how I change my pants to be slightly shorter. I find most women do not sew anything for themselves, let alone alter their own pants to fit. Unless you’re buying new you can’t pick and chose the length of your jeans! Most times I end up with pants that are way too long. The only time I don’t have to alter them is the boyfriend or cropped style which is mean to be capri length.

I hope you find this tutorial useful! Be warned if you are highly trained in the art of sewing, I do not use correct terminology – technique or fancy bells and whistles. This is a basic, beginner tutorial to get by!

Camo Print

camoprintThis outfit is iconic, as many of you probably don’t know, I abhor camo print. I don’t like hunting, I don’t like camouflage, I dislike it being worn as normal clothing. I was drawn to this blouse however, despite my dislike of the print – in this particular piece it doesn’t bother me at all in fact I was drawn to it because I love green.

Like almost every small blouse I try on lately, this one is no different, I couldn’t get my bicep into the sleeve. Without hesitation I chopped the sleeve off this one too and wouldn’t you know it, instantly fits perfect. Everything is easier in sleeveless!

This blouse was fun to play up with jewellery as I have a few stackable bracelets in turquoise, green and brown tones as well as a matching necklace I made a few years back.

Full Colour or Bust!

brightfloralskirt Ah yes, a new favourite! I’m sure I say this in every post, but its okay to have a ton of favourite newly-created looks!

Much like most of my other outfits, these pieces had to be altered in order to suit my body shape. This New York & Co floral skirt really didn’t fit at all when I tried it on, but every now and then there are pieces that you just have to have no matter how much work they will involve in the end. I took it in two inches to make it a high waisted style and brought up the hem about the same amount so it came closer to the knee. Anything past the knee on my height makes me look frumpy.

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Mad for Magenta

orangemagentamix I saw this top at Value Village once when shopping with my mother and a friend (whom I ran into while I was there go figure!) and as I recall its by Reitmans, a large. Unfortunately it was quite a big large in the shoulders but I began tinkering with it in the mirror at the end of an isle as my mother walks by and nods “Yup its do-able” … she knew what was going through my head.

I still find it amusing and somewhat rewarding that after 29 years I was able to teach my mother something instead of the reverse. In being gutsy and bold, I feel no risk in cutting into an item of clothing, no remorse if I start stitching this and that. Without knowing the official “rules” of sewing and alterations, I am able to do things like this. Now more and more my mother is excited to tell me she altered something thinking like I would!

Just the other day she was fussing with a dress, one of these fabulous multi print – mixed fabric numbers by Desigual – unfortunately with our 5’2 height they can be very hard to pull off without looking even shorter. I came over and started analyzing it after she gave me the few thoughts she had. I grabbed it on both sides below the waist and hemmed it with pins temporarily. “Just needs to go up here so you don’t lose all the bottom details”… “Ha!” she says, “I knew you’d know how to fix it.”

This top wasn’t all that complicated to alter. Yes its a knit, and we don’t “alter” sweaters… this girl does.

Based on having very narrow shoulders and a small frame, I simply put somewhat of a dart down the back of the shoulder equally on both sides. When I wore it to work no one even realized that changes had been made. Yes looking at this photo you can see that the original seams don’t line up the way a normal shoulder does, but its something that only I would notice. Paired with this fun infinity scarf and my favourite bright orange GAP skirt – couldn’t help but wear my magenta pumps to be super matchy-matchy!

Vintage Redesign

vintageredesign1 My greatest regret with this dress is that it did not occur to me almost 4 years ago to take a “before” photograph. Although in my mind the original dress I can see clear as day. Big boxy style, long sleeved and bursting with colour. It was the first dress I ever attempted to redesign and to this day, I consider it to be the greatest success.

The strips down the sides of the dress are the original sleeves. As sadly I don’t know what body could have fit into the original dress the top half was massive and the bottom couldn’t fit over my thighs! A few quick snips and insertion into the side seams fixed that problem easy enough, also it adds a little more fun in the design.

vintageredesign3The neckline was really unique and I wanted to keep the original base design. Cutting out the sleeves strategically left a really unique arrangement at the neck for structure. The only issue I’ve had with this dress (aside from the fact that its such a light fabric I can only wear it in the dead heat of summer) is that it has loose hanging fabric in the front. Now maybe on some body types it is quite flattering, but on me it just felt awkward. When I first wore the dress a few years back I simply tucked it into my belt… now I finally decided to fix the issue and sew it right down where it was most flattering – but still keeping a similar drape effect.

vintageredesign2 My favourite way to accessorize this dress is with gold, a micro belt, earrings or a loud necklace perhaps – although honestly the dress speaks for itself and hardly needs enhancement! I did a #tbt Throwback Thursday on Instagram to this dress when it was first redesigned, and decided seeing as the weather was gorgeous I would bring it out of the back of the closet! This time though, it dawned on me that I had left my gold flip flops in Cuba the last time I went on a trip! Ohhhh dear.

Sweater Re-Design

STREETWEARALTERATION I ventured into Urban Planet a store I generally stay far away from, but I was on the hunt for warm patterned leggings. I had no luck in the leggings department but I did find myself looking through all the discounted sweaters. I saw this sweater dress-tunic on for under $10… It was just the sort of style I had been hoping to find in my thrift adventures but have not yet discovered one. I wasn’t sure about the length but perhaps it would be good with leggings.

The day came when I decided to wear it – all I could think was: “Wow I’m so glad they didn’t have a medium!” It was a large so I figured it would be on the big side and was the only thing I didn’t bother to try on. My arms barely fit in the sleeve! I’d hate to be any bigger than my current size or this “large” would be super snug! The spacious area is actually only in the neckline, assuming I had a larger canvas to fill it out with.

STREETWEAR SWEATER In trying it on in front of my mirror I decided there was nothing flattering about the length, it almost went to my knees and was just a solid tight grey knit with nothing forgiving about it. I’ve never been afraid to chop up clothing so I pinned the length I decided would be most flattering – half way down the bum but covering the hip. And because I liked the bottom pattern so much I decided instead of a simple hem I would bring up the bottom pattern and minimize the solid grey.

I did not take step by step photographs of this process as quite honestly I was expecting it to be a bust! Apparently I should have a lot more faith in my re-constructive skills! It wasn’t an overly complicated process, folding most of the grey over to bring up the bottom trim. Doing a straight stitch on the sewing machine to attach the bottom section to the top section. Once complete I had (on the inside) a several inch long folded section of solid grey knit.

To remove the excess I simply cut the folded extra fabric and removed it from the sweater altogether. On the outside it looks like a planned hemline…. if you actually analyze it you’d know a sweater like this shouldn’t have a hem! I like to be sneaky like that.

Reviving Broken Jewellery

JEWELLERYALTERATIONSI can honestly say one of my favourite past-times is creating or reconstructing jewellery. Enough so that I have my own business doing it! In regards to thrifting mind you, if you can wield a pair of small pliers you can save a ton of money on jewellery and accessories. Most stores wouldn’t be too keen on selling broken jewellery, or they sell it at a serious discount – which is great news for those of us on a tight budget!

I have been finding more and more earrings are being made too heavy for what they are. For example I picked up a few packages of $1 earring sets that were made as posts, I wore one pair for a few hours only to be driven mad by them falling forward and pulling my earlobe down. This is not a result of me wearing heavy earrings for years (because I haven’t been!) its simply a cheap design.

Granted it takes a moment and you do run the risk of the post snapping off completely if its really cheaply made, but a simple loop of the post wire can make a huge difference in whether or not a pair of earrings is wearable!

With my finger I bend the post as far upwards as I can make it without pressing too hard so that it doesn’t completely snap. Usually the tiny piece at the end of the post snaps off because of the dent manufactures put in it to hold the backs on. Using a pair of needle nose pliers I can slowly create a loop in the post wire. Combining the strength of my fingers and stability of the plier, I wiggle the looped post as close to the top centre as possible so I can ensure the earring will dangle straight.

Depending on the style of earring hooks you find, you can add it directly to the loop you just made OR you can add a jump ring in between. This is also great if you want to have a bit of dangle rather than a solid earring hanging down. I went on a tangent that morning and essentially changed every pair of large post based earrings I had into regular fish hook style earrings. The only post-style earrings I have left are tiny studs which I like the way they are.

As per my post about my vibrant Orange and Blue outfit on December 6th, I discuss how you can find great broken jewellery at thrift stores for $1! Here is another great example of a piece that I redesigned using what Value Village called a “broken” necklace. I thought the red and black rhinestone design was quite cool especially since I feel like there is no longer red in my wardrobe at all this would be a good way to start adding it back.

BLACKREDNECKLACE Unfortunately I was too efficient in taking this apart without thinking of snapping a quick photo first! What you don’t know is that this set was originally just one necklace with 8 interconnected sections. I only ended up throwing out one section, but was able to salvage some of the rhinestones that I needed to re-embellish the few I was needing to fix. I then needed to snap off extra unwanted loops with pliers.

The earrings were slightly more tricky to complete as each piece had a different arrangement of loops on the side depending on where it was in the original necklace. I salvaged two pieces that had the same loops – but needed to add a small chain in order to add a centered earring hook. Luckily being a designer I had all the required materials on hand and was able to complete the task without too much trouble.

 

From Flare to Straight

GAP JeansYou know that feeling you have when you try on a pair of jeans and they feel amazing? No pinching, no crotch-biters, no saggy lines, no muffin top… They just look awesome?

I recently discovered by chance the perfect fit jeans for me, GAP 1968 “Sexy Boyfriend” jeans are it. Now these bad boys retail for $80, which I wouldn’t pay even if they were the greatest fit ever, that’s just not me. But $20 at our store? Hells yeah! So my first pair made me deliriously happy, so I went to Value Village on a hunt for this particular pair of jeans. To my surprise that first attempt I found one pair that were also a form of boyfriend jean, in a lighter denim, and a second pair that were a more flared leg style.

Unfortunately with my height, I can not easily pull off a flared leg or the “long and lean” style simply because my feet are barely a size 6. The leg width swallows up my tiny feet! So the jeans I found on my hunt fit great at the hip and thigh which is my hardest place to fit first try without alterations. I wore them once to work but felt like they weren’t quite right. It occurred to me a month later the issue was just that my feet are too small.

Having discovered the issue I was able to test out a solution: transforming the flared leg into a straight leg. I’m certainly you just tilted your head to the side and said “Whaaaa?”

Altering Jeans Altering Jeans
Having Saturday to myself I put them on and began to pin. I wasn’t quite sure what I would need to do but I thought pinning folds would be a good place to start. I ended up doing the legs differently at first, and when I sat down to sew noticed that one was folded nicely with the original seam hiding the fold. So by the time I went to sew the second leg I redid the pinning to have the same finish.

Altering Jeans Altering Jeans

With the denim being dark it hides any sort of flaw in the stitching or folds from the dart I installed near the knee. The end result I was actually really impressed with, you do not see the fold at the top, and the bottom is folded over so it is rather seamless!

Bridesmaid Dress Alterations

Wedding AlterationsA friend of mine had planned a rather “quick” wedding, as in, she didn’t spend a year deciding on a location or colour palettes and all the extra details of what seems to be the trend nowadays. She fell in love with a simple strapless light powder blue dress that all of her bridesmaids agreed on.

During their first official try-on session, they all decided they did not need any alterations. Then a few short weeks later, the week of the wedding as a matter of fact, they began to realize they weren’t quite perfect. The girls were all a different size and different height.

My friend sent a text on the Tuesday asking if I would be able to look at them for her, to which I of course replied with a self-assured: “I’ll have a look!” Honestly not knowing if I had anywhere near the skill level required to make whatever alterations would be required. When the bride and one of her girls came to my home I was not sure what to expect. But I was thankful it wasn’t a floor length sequin filled gown!

After lengthy discussion we decided to try lowering the hem on one of the dresses so that it fell to the same place around the knee that the second one did. It was simply due to the presentation, the 5’8 girl looked slightly more scandalous with the short length compared to the 5’3 girl.

My mother decided up front that I was insane, not something new to me of course! But a friend needed me so by-golly I was going to find a way to make this magical transformation happen! Haha – okay I may have exaggerated, lowering a hem may not be that exciting. The process took four hours that same evening all done by hand. The saving grace of this project was how poorly the dresses were made in the first place if you can imagine that. As awful as it sounds the zipper seams had already opened with one try-on session, the overlay for the crinoline wasn’t even sewn down. I’m sure if I had just left the zipper seams as is, you would see the crinoline exposed!

So first step was to tackle the hemline, which was pinned over and over just to make sure the poofy hemline was not disturbed. I used the unwanted sash that came with the dresses to add a layer underneath which would be sewn into the lining and connect the bottom, while hiding the crinoline which remained untouched. Using this extra piece I was able to lower the hem by about three or four inches! A relatively simple fix actually all said and done. Hand stitched in place so guests would be none the wiser that any change had been made.

In this photo you can see the crease from the lowered hemline.

Tutorial: How to Close the Gap!

I have come to believe that all clothing is made to fit a variety of shapes and sizes, but that “fit” might not be what’s best for you no matter what you try. We are not built the same, our bodies retain weight in different areas and we sometimes never lose or gain it in the places we hope for. For instance my shape is very hour glass, my thighs and hips are a healthy size – small waist – and then back out for my ribcage. Now most would think this is an easily flattering womanly shape to have, but if you are this shape, you know that isn’t always an easy task.

I cannot speak to all shapes but having seen thousands of women try on clothing at the store, I know its very few and far between when an outfit fits your shape perfectly first try. More often than not is the “model-esque” bodies that appear to look the best in everything, but that is mainly the result of these women having essentially no body fat or curves to worry about. The clothing appears to hang loosely off their body as the designer probably intended. Often we will sigh and say the designers these days just aren’t making clothes to fit “real” women, when really we should be saying to ourselves: this doesn’t work for me, but there will be one that will.

How to Close the GapIn my case bottoms are a real challenge. I have a sizable behind, wide hips and thick thighs – but my waist is very small. Naturally I have to go a size up to fit in the thigh and bum. This also means I will have a lovely gap at the back of my pants due to the serious difference in size between said tush and waist area. Luckily there is a rather simple fix to this issue, so long as you are will to spend a few minutes sewing!

How to Close the Gap I’m now at a point where I don’t really have to measure the amount that it needs to come in, its a rough 1 inch typically. After analysing the fit of the pants in the mirror I estimate how much needs to be taken in. Flipping the pants inside out, I can fold the amount that needs to be removed from the top of the waist to the point where it will meet my bum. This is the length that the “dart” will need to be.

How to Close the Gap Now that you have an idea of how much space needs to be removed, my first step is to unpick the label that is inevitably sewn right into the back of the pants. If you’re lucky it’ll be screen printed to the actual fabric and you won’t have to do this tedious task! Once the label is out you will have an easier time removing the belt loop. Set it aside for reattaching later.

How to Close the Gap With the belt loop off and the label removed you can now fold the centre back of the pants at the seam. I like to fold it tightly and pin so that it doesn’t shift, making sure the reverse side seam is lined up. This isn’t crucial its just a nice little detail to be aware of. I often forget!

How to Close the Gap With my sewing machine I begin with a stitch that runs from the top of the fold (in this case about 1 cm into the fold) and angle the stitch slowly toward the edge of the pant. This so called “dart” makes the alteration taper nicely, unnoticeable even!

How to Close the Gap Once your folded stitch has been completed – I usually do it a max of 2 inches long – try the pants on to see how they fit. If all has gone smoothly you won’t have to make any further adjustments. Worst case scenario you’ll have to remove the thread with a seam ripper and try again either folding more fabric or less, perhaps making the length of the dart longer or shorter depending on the issue.

IMG_7116 And finally, once you are completely happy with the adjustments you’ve made you may (if you want it to be permanent) trim the excess from the fold and reattach the belt loop by stitching it on manually.

Pink Saturday!

20140719-224932.jpgToday once again I felt very feminine and wanted uplifting colours to go with the white denim shorts I had just altered – stay tuned for the tutorial! I opted for a light weight pink blouse by Joe Fresh, combined with a floral cardigan by St. John’s Bay.

This I so far the first floral cardi I’ve been able to thrift that is modern but trendy at the same time. I haven’t worn hot pink in quite some time! I was just running errands today so I didn’t put too much thought into the outfit, although sometimes I think that’s when looks are most successful!

I received quite a few compliments on my outfit today from complete strangers! It’s so uplifting when someone goes out of their way to tell you something positive. It stays with you for the rest of the day! It has always been a goal of mine, call it good karma if you will, to compliment one person every day. Share the love!