Browse Tag: sew

Curvaceous Calves

14732280_975973969199075_3060862929111866196_nIf you are one of those lucky individuals that is the right height-weight-muscle ratio to fit most tall boots, stop reading this post. If you are me my calves are considered “too big” for the average tall boot width perhaps based on my 5.75 shoe size and 5’3 height. I spent 15 years of my life dancing twice a week so the muscle is certainly there hiding underneath. I hear it at the store all day long, women asking “who did they make these to fit?” then you see a tall slender woman walk by with minimal meat on her legs and the light bulb goes off.

Most are made to fit models so that it looks flattering in the magazine and on the website. It also depends on where the company is based, what their general sizing is. These Fly London boots came into the store, much more worn than what we would typically accept but I knew I was buying them regardless of the wear and tear. The issue came instantly when I realized I couldn’t get the boot on without an alteration thanks to my curvy calves. 14720622_975975602532245_6367736462522267529_n

I popped over to Fabricland and bought a thick black elastic that I hopefully could insert down the back of the boot. Fortunately the seam is straight centered down the back of the boot which made it easier to open up and insert the elastic. I stitched the elastic in place by hand and tied the laces back up. They would look better with a longer elastic so I could do up all the grommets but that’ll be for another day.

I tried them out (along with my new hairstyle) yesterday at the store and to be honest that’s the first day I didn’t have sore feet. Apparently two insoles and thick socks did the trick!

 

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.

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!

Roz & Ali Redesign

rozandali This gorgeous Roz & Ali dress has been laying on top of my sewing desk for most of August and September as I knew it would be a project that required a lot of time and effort. I love boxy dresses but they do not fit my shape (hips & bum require more structure!) but this dress was so stunning and it fit over all the necessary parts quite well.

In order to make this dress fit I would need to take it from a 12 to a 6 but keeping in mind the intricacy of the print. I started at the top and worked my way down, beginning with a dart in both shoulders as mine are rather narrow.

The dress was also considerably longer and sat awkwardly below the knee, which on my height and shape – makes me look shorter and wider! Not good. The waist was elastic which didn’t sit at my waist, so that was going to be a challenge to adjust. Step one – hem over top of the elastic section with a loose stitch to ensure the look would be right. The print doesn’t line up but it didn’t with the elastic either. I simply belt it and it looks finished!

I had to take in quite a few inches above the bum due to removing the elastic that held all the extra elastic together. A few stitch-tryon-stitch-tryon’s later and it started to form a more flattering shape. Unfortunately I still felt a little uncomfortable wearing it to work, by the time I arrived at my second job I realized it was only the interior lining (which never lines up correctly when redesigning!) was short – causing me to think the dress was too short.

A few seconds later with the assistance of my mother (because she was standing there with scissors and its a pain to take on and off) cut out the lining from the waist down. It was the perfect classy outfit for work and received a ton of compliments all day long.

Recovered Wingback Chair

wingbackchaircomplete It has been decided that my home is a source of work to my family, not often do they come by for a nice visit with a cup of tea and relaxation. It seems to always been that there is a task I need assistance with. While most people have bigger eyes than their stomachs, I have bigger ideas than my hands can create… every now and again.

My latest source of thrifty enjoyment is reupholstering furniture. This most recent project, or series of projects was actually inspired by my sister, who had been inspired by my altering clothing… a lovely creative cycle! She recovered her desk chair with a lovely black and white damask fabric to cover up all the “art” her cat had made with her claws into the original fabric. In her own way she came up with a plan for the pattern, purchased the fabric she wanted to use and completed the recovering using a method of elastic that would hug the fabric to the seat underneath.

When I was sifting through the fabric at Value Village recently with my parents, intending to find some fabric my mother could use to make yoga bags – I found this beautiful celery green fabric – and a lot of it! It dawned on me that maybe I could use this to recover my wingback chair in my living room that I had thrifted for $20 last summer. It seemed as though the more it was used the worst it looked, including the fact that it cannot be cleaned – soap simply makes it an ungodly disaster.

There appeared to be an endless amount of this fabric for $10, first pitching the idea to my mother to see what she thought. It was an instant hit with her as well! Little did I know, this project was a massive 3 day undertaking. I am not sure exactly what I had thought (aside from the giddy childlike oggling of my favourite colour) but seemed to think it would be a one evening stapling type of job. My mother in her own way, a perfectionist and master of the hand stitch. Her plan was a little more realistic.

Chair, Before & After We planned for a full Saturday of sewing beginning at 9:30am. We decided to do the smart thing and create a pattern out of quilt batting… Followed by laying it out on our fabric a few different ways until finally all the pieces fit, save for the back panel. This is why it is usually better to buy 10 metres of fabric rather than piece together using what you’ve randomly found!

By noon my sister had arrived only to ask if we had just started…! I suppose the chair didn’t look like much after 3 hours but we had done plenty of preparatory work! By the end of the day we had about 2 thirds of the chair completed, my assistance ending roughly around the 1 third mark when my mother switched to her hand sewing art. By day 3 all that remained were a few hand stitched details (her perfectionist ways!) and putting a back on it. Fabricland was having a three day sale conveniently so we picked out a similar fabric that we would do the back panel in seeing as we ran out of fabric!

I must say the chair looks far better than I could have ever imagined. We removed the dust ruffle from the base to expose the wood structure, removed the arm rest openings and gave the whole chair a new modern look!

 

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.

Neckline Redesign

DIY-NECKLINEI’ve had this top for years but it has always frustrated me due to it’s awful neckline. There are many tops similar to this that I see come through the Store, but they always seem to fold nicely. There is something about this top, or perhaps my build that absolutely cannot pull off this design.

Today (because I needed it for my outfit) I decided to make some adjustments. Because of the intricate nature of what I was about to undertake, I had to resort to hand stitching directly on my mannequin. I figured doing it by hand would ensure that both sides were aligned nicely and the folds would be in place.

It was by no means a huge change but enough to make a much nicer neckline for my body type.

 

 

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.

Vintage Redesign!

Vintage RedesignI finally wore my vintage redesign project dress out on the town on Saturday night and it occurred to me I had never blogged about this wonderful creation of mine! To be honest I was very surprised at how comfortable the dress turned out to be! It all began with a very dated dress from Value Village. On half price days I like to pick up what I call  “project dresses” that I can redesign and create into very stylish new pieces. This dress is one of my greatest challenges and successes.

The dress I found was a high neckline (which I love!) and 3/4 sleeve with a lovely shimmery black and pearlesque print fabric. Although the dress was several sizes too large I spent several hours making adjustments the the shoulders, removing shoulder pads first off – then stitching them into a somewhat Lady Gaga effect.

Now the original dress was awkwardly long and simply had no appeal for me. The second thing to go was the black section at the bottom. Conveniently the dress was made in such a way that was easy to alter. The great challenges arose when I decided to make it an open back. Unfortunately I felt disheartened by my sewing skills and inability to structure it the way I wanted to. Due to the mass of fabric and lack of strength within itself, I was forced to add strips of lace to the back to keep it from sagging.

Vintage RedesignIts amazing what a few lace details can do for a dress! I opened up the sleeve slightly as I often find the upper arms on tops and dresses too tight. The bottom of the dress was finished easily with a black lace trim which was also added to the arms. It was certainly a lot more work than I had originally anticipated, but I feel that it turned out beautifully!

  • 1
  • 2