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Altering for an Improved Fit

Welcome to Sew! Let’s Get Dressed, a weekly blog that encourages you to sew successfully.

When we were putting the finishing touches on the Rain or Shine Variations for the Tabula Rasa Jacket (TRJ), I stitched up a funnel neck blouse in a beautiful blue silk twill from our friends at the Wool House.  They sell their lovely fabrics in a booth near us at many shows.  At the Houston Quilt Expo the same year I found buttons that moved the fabric from lovely to amazing.

Wool and Silk blend Funnel Neck
Silk blend Funnel Neck Rain or Shine

While the finished top was not an ornate Tabula Rasa, it is the perfect blouse for the winter to spring transition.  The silk twill is a vivid blue and black accented with tiny stripes of dark red/pink.  I trimmed the top with flat piping in a blue and pink cross-woven silk to draw out the stripe.  The combination is quite special, but the top has always been a little too big.

Let me confess that I want my clothes to be on the loose side.  Off-the-rack clothing always felt too small in the upper arms and the bust, so I intentionally stitch clothes that are roomy.  Usually I hit the mark with clothes that are loose but neat.  In this case, the top felt too roomy.  Perhaps because the fabric has very little drape.

A few weeks ago, I pulled it out of the closet to wear on a busy Sunday.  We had church, a Baltimore Chamber Orchestra Concert, and dinner with friends on the schedule.  As I was getting dressed, I realized that the top was perfectly complimented by a pair of earrings I received at the holidays.  I loved the ensemble, but all day, as I moved from event to event, I felt overwhelmed by the top. It needed to be altered.

Here is the rub, each seam is accented with flat piping and serge finishes.  It would a pain to alter I thought, but because it is such a wonderful wardrobe essential, I decided that I would remove at least ½” from the front along each side seam.

Here is the ripped top.

At times like this the seam ripper is your friend.  Over the next week I removed the 3- thread overlock finish on each side seam, then I released the hems, the seam from front shoulder to hem and the flat piping. I had quite a pile of thread when I was finished.

measuring the new placement

Between projects in the studio I basted the piping to each front removing 1/2” from each original seam.  I pinned the sleeve/shoulder section to the adjusted seam to test the fit.  It was quite an improvement, so I stitched the seams in place.

Here is the piped seam pinned for a test fit

Before serging the new seam and re-hemming the fronts,  I pressed in the alteration and tried the top on again. It still felt roomie in the sides below the sleeve.  I tested an additional alteration to the side panel with pins before deciding this change would also be wise.

It required a little more ripping, but the process was well worth the trouble.  Once the side seams were finished and serge finished, I reapplied the interfacing in the hem and re-stitched the hem.

replacing the hem interfacing

The top now feels much better, not tight, but neatly situated from the shoulder to the hem.  I am delighted with the improvement and have decided that a couple hours of alterations on a top that matched both pants and jewelry in my wardrobe is a good investment.

All finished and ready to go.

What garments do you have languishing in your closet because the fit needs a little tweak?  While altering clothes seems tedious, it simply brings perfection to the fabrics, designs and trims you loved when you originally made the garment.  On projects like these, work incrementally and all of a sudden, it will be ready to wear!  Like my loved and loved again TRJ with the Rain or Shine Funnel Neck.

Be inspired to get those ill fitting clothes out of the closet and find a way to improve them so they are go-to garments again.  My class for Burda Style,  Get a Better Fit, Alterations and Restyling is full of inspiring ways to redesign and alter your clothes.  Use Coupon Code OSQE20SA for a 20% discount.

Happy Sewing, RAE

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7 thoughts on “Altering for an Improved Fit

  1. You look lovely, Rae!

    1. Thanks Bonnie, It feels great.

    2. So easy to overspend there, but the possibilities are so fabulous. Thanks.

  2. You look beautiful and it fits you perfectly. I love The Wool House, too! I lost a paycheck there last year.

  3. When you altered, did you take the 1/2” from the front panel or both front and side panels? When altering is it best aesthetically to remove from front and back panels or side panels?

    1. Cheri, I took it just off the front as I knew the sleeve/side was a comfortable size and I had to remove the piping anyway so I could do the alteration just from the front. If you pin or baste in an alteration, it will let you test the changes and adjust if the fit is not improved to your liking.

  4. Thanks for the advice.

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