Category Archives: Alterations

Shelby #2 -Hacked!

The first ‘wearable toile’ of the Shelby needed quite a lot of ‘finessing’ to get it to fit.

Original Shelby dress line drawing

For this version I decided to ‘hack’ it! I copied my TNT basic darted bodice and converted to a shoulder princess style. I placed that over the original Shelby panels and then just to make sure it was nothing like the original, hacked on the collar and front button placket from the Pattern Emporium Easy Fit shirt/Take the Chance dress.

My hacked version Side Front panel

Side Back Panel

I used 3 metres of a ditsy floral printed viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. This fabric has a fantastic drape and will be lovely to wear in late Spring and Summer – provided the alterations work!

I placed the yoke and back bodice over the appropriate Shelby pattern pieces and cut around them.

Back neckline adapted ready for the collar

Front yoke adaptation for collar

I cut the centre front panel ‘around about’ the waist line so that the button placket only goes to that point. The remainder of the centre panel could have been cut on the fold but I did not think of that until later!

Centre Front Panel cut for new waistline seam – space for the seam allowances

My ‘Charlottedress design

With fabric this fine I would normally prefer to use French seams but as this is very much a toile, I made full use of the overlocker.

I started the construction with the sleeves, the hems were overlocked, double turned and top stitched in place with White thread. I constructed the tie belts on the overlocker and used my ‘wonder turning tool’ to get them right sides out.

Turn It All – wonder gadget for narrow ties

The ties were basted to the centre back panel. Then I moved on to the collar. I had to add the centre back panel and side back panels to the front at the shoulders so that I could complete the collar and placket construction. The shoulder seam was neatened with overlocking but only part sewn as I need to check the width of the shoulders before finishing the panel seams.

Having completed the collar and placket I then had my first fitting. All looking good except that the shoulders were going to be about 2 inches too wide. I took in the excess on the panel seams, grading back to the original seamline at the ‘bust’ notch.

I made 5 buttonholes and by way of a change from shell buttons, this time I used some self-covered buttons in White that look just like Mint Imperial sweets!

Now I finished sewing together the side front, side back panels and side seams so that I could insert the sleeves. Once that was done I finished off the hem with overlocking before double turn and top stitching in place. A quick final press and the dress was complete.

My new ‘Charlotte’ dress

Conclusion: I am delighted with the completed dress and will now copy out a ‘perfect’ pattern onto clean white paper. I can’t wait to make another dress in this style and will call it the ‘Charlotte’ as by now it has very little similarity to the Shelby!

Project no 25 completed 15th April 2023

A new style – New Look K6574

When I was planning my projects for the year of 2022 I wanted to include some new styles and make up some of the many, many pdf patterns that I have in my stash.

Viscose Marocain

Since the beginning of the year I have been working on the theme of Green, later extending to ‘Golden Daffodils and Spring Greens’. When I saw this NEW LOOK pattern, especially view A, I realised that I had a very similar printed Viscose Marocain that I had bought from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn. That decided me – I needed to make up this new style!

As the pattern has a limited size range up to US-18 I knew that although the fit across the shoulders would be fine, I would need to expand for my ‘fuller’ figure.

I made a toile using lightweight plain White polyester cotton and proceeded to make a Full Bust adjustment. I also decided to ignore the front slit at the bodice and neckline yoke, I would simply stitch the opening closed, cut the yoke piece placed on the fold at the centre front and rely solely on the centre back zip to be able to put the dress on and off. Although the toile was made with the short puffed sleeves of view C, I was not sure at that stage whether I would have short or long sleeves on the final dress. I had sufficient fabric for either version.

Even after making the toile in polyester cotton, I still ‘chickened out’ of using my matching Viscose Marocain fabric and decided to make a ‘wearable muslin’ using some of the Dark Green Palm print viscose (also from Rainbow Fabrics).

Dark Green Palm Leaves print Viscose for ‘wearable muslin’

Having already made one toile I powered ahead with this ‘wearable muslin’. As I would normally French Seam this weight of viscose fabric, for speed all seams were overlocked with Black thread. I did not like the way the instructions told you to finish the hem band on the short sleeves. I did it my way so that all the raw edges were enclosed. I found the neckline yoke particularly fiddly and was glad that at least one layer was interfaced for stability.

First fitting I found that I could put the dress on over my head without the opening for the zip or the slit on the centre front of the bodice. I had to laugh! Firstly the sleeves were so full that I looked like an American footballer. The blouson of the gathers under the bust were way to full and the fabric drooped down almost to my waist. I had to remove over 3 inches from the centre front of the bodice grading back to 0 at the side seams. It could still do with another ½ inch being removed from the fullness! Because the skirt is panelled and shaped to ‘skim’ over the midriff, in my case, it was more fitted. I had to let out the side seams to give me a little more room to breathe!

K6574 in Green Palm Leaves Viscose

Conclusion: Although I will keep the dress (as a reminder!) I am not sure that I will ever wear it. I have listed the original pattern on eBay as I know that I will never, ever make this particular pattern again! Now the search is on for an alternative pattern to use with the Viscose Marocain.

Project #21 completed 3rd April 2022

At last – Dungarees!

Way back in the mists of time (about 30+ years ago) I made a pair of dungarees for my sister when she was expecting her first child. At the time I full intended to make a pair of dungaees for myself. Time has passed and over the years I acquired several patterns for dungarees but just never got around to making them.

Two weeks ago I was shopping in Sainsburys and decided to have a browse down the clothing aisle. In the ‘reduced’ section I came across a single pair of Indigo denim dungarees – in just my size! They were reduced to £7.20 and I knew that I had £7.50-worth of loyalty points so… brainer, the dungarees were quickly put into my shopping trolley!

When I returned home, I tried on the dungarees and was delighted to find that they fit! Only problem was that they were sized for someone at least 5’6” tall whereas I am only 5’4”. Not really a problem. I cut off 1inch from each leg, added some pretty ‘scissor-print’ cotton binding and turned up 1¼ inches. I had some Orange thread and using a stitch length of 3.5mm machine top stitched the hems in place. Perfect!

I have purchased some pretty jazzy cotton print to make a ‘Gilbert’ shirt by Helen’s Closet to go with the dungarees and will be able to channel my Childrens’ TV presenter vibe –

…….only about 40 years late!

Project #11 Completed 23rd February 2022

Refashioned Polo neck Top

Some time ago I bought a polo neck top from Cotton Traders. The very first thing I had to do was to reduce the length! Since then the top had been worn only once as I found the polo neck too tight and high. So, it sat in the cupboard waiting for me to get around to it.

Today was the day. I cut off the collar, removed the sleeves and cut out the seams on the shoulders. Using my self-drafted Paolina pattern I re-cut short sleeves (could not avoid the Cotton Traders embroidered log) and a new scoop neckline. I used two pieces of 2 inch wide strip cut from the remainder of the sleeves to make a neckband.

First thing to stitch was the new shoulder seams (¼ inch seam allowance only) using some stay tape in the seam as the fabric is very mobile. I used a narrow zig-zagstitch and then finished with the overlocker. Next was the neckband. This went in like a dream!

Finally I turned up the hem on the sleeves and as I had never cut the original side seams, set the sleeves into the armholes using the ‘in the round’ method.

All finished in around 40 minutes. A great ‘new’ tee with a much more comfortable neckline.

Project #78 completed 21st November 2021.

Autumn print Vogue 8577-refashion

My take of the Vogue 8577 made in an Autumnal toned fruit print cotton lawn was originally completed in September 2019.

Since then the Covid pandemic and lockdowns have taken their toll so that now the dress is too small in the bodice.

The fabric was purchased at the Festival of Quilts and after making the dress there was a large remnant. I am so glad that I kept it!

With some pattern tetris I was able to cut a new bodice and sleeves using my ‘Harley’ pattern. The back bodice has a centre seam and the front facings are pieced. I used some fine White cotton as a lining for the bodice and sleeves which provides some additional structure to this fine lightweight cotton lawn.

I re-visited Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s vlog where she gives some hints and tips for sewing the Vogue 8577 and this helped enormously when fitting the bodice to the skirt at the front where there was a continuous facing plus lots of buttons and buttonholes to contend with. All bodice seam allowances were trimmed with pinking shears and the side seams pressed open and flat. The lining was turned up and hand stitched to the waistline seam.

I re-used the buttons from the original bodice plus the spare so there are 7 buttons on the bodice.

I am delighted with how the dress has turned out and it will form the key element to yet another capsule collection for Autumn. Notice how well the print coordinates with my latest elasticated wide belt and suede wedge-heeled espadrilles.

Project #63 completed 23rd September 2021

Yet another recycle?

Oh yes! I have made at least 5 versions of the Vogue 8577 and unfortunately some of them no longer fit across the bust. This particular version is the very first one that I made according to the pattern in so far as there is a midriff yoke and the giant pockets in the skirt.

Another two hours of unpicking during Friday morning sewing get together resulted in a separate bodice and skirt. I no longer have any remnants of the fabric that I used for this dress so having had a cogitate decided to attach a contrast bodice – made using some pretty Broderie Anglaise from deep within my stash. I would later add a belt so that the finished result would look like a blouse with contrasting skirt.

Having previously completed this type of ‘hack’ I was fairly confident about attaching a new bodice to the skirt. Again I used my ‘Harley’ bodice pattern but this time with the re-drafted sleeve. I just love how the gathers at the sleeve head sit and the length is just right. As there are many holes quite close together in this Broderie Anglaise design, I used some plain White cotton for the facings and all seams were flat felled into place.

The bodice went together well and I soon had the ‘recycle’ completed. I top- stitched the facings in place with a narrow seam allowance tucked under so now there are no excess seam allowances inside the bodice.

The final decision to make was regarding buttons. Should I use plain White buttons on the bodice, or the same Pale Turquoise that came off the original bodice? The decision was easy as I found that I did not have any suitable White buttons in my stash. I think the Pale Blue ones look very nice.

I am now waiting for an elasticated belt to arrive to complete the look and in the meantime I have some pretty alternatives from my wardrobe to compliment this new faux ‘blouse and skirt’ ensemble.

Project #54 completed 24th August 2021

Tidying Up Texas Pants

Back in May I declared that I would concentrate on refining a new pattern for trousers, culottes and also a jumpsuit. Well that did not happen! I was seduced by the Texas pattern by Style Arc and made it up no less than 4 times.

Unfortunately not a single pair is spot- on in terms of fit. One pair were made using NEW fabric – a stretch denim from Minerva.

The reason that pair were not perfect is due mostly to my choice of fabric. The denim was too stiff but I hope it will soften up with wear and wash. In the meantime, some alterations were necessary.

First I cut away the pockets. Two reasons: a) the pocket bags were too long b) three layers of this stiff fabric was interfering with the drape of the trousers. I left the top-stitching in place so now I have ‘faux side pockets’.

Next, I decided to completely re-stitch the outside leg seams. This meant that I had to do a great deal of unpicking! I unpicked part of the waistband at each side, part of the hems on each leg plus the entire side seams that had been stitched with 4-thread overlocking PLUS twin needle top-stitching!

Next, I pinned down the side seams where I thought would be more appropriate before machine-tacking ready for a fitting. From the fitting I concluded that to take in by no less than 1 inch from each leg piece i.e. a total of 2 inches from each side seam was the way forward. I completed the alteration by machine stitching and overlocking the side seams, re-stitching the waistband and hems plus twin needle top stitching around the hems. I was unable to repeat the twin needle top stitching at the side seams as I could not manipulate through the inside of the legs. I good thorough press completed the project.

The Texas pants are not perfect but in this substrate are now a much better fit. I plan to re-draw the pattern taking into account all the various alterations and ….. hopefully will end up with a ‘perfect’ trouser pattern.

Project #53 completed 22nd August 2021

Recycling Bathroom Mules

Hot on the tails of using up remnants of fabric from my stash, I used some leftovers from other projects to recycle/refresh/renew two pairs of bathroom mules.

The originals were purchased from The White Company several years ago. I notice that the current mules offered on the site have changed and they now have a hard sole as opposed to the thin ’embossed plastic’ that is on my current ones.

Both pairs are made from the Duck Egg Blue background remnants of a Superking-sized duvet cover originally purchased from Dunelm and made up into nightdresses, dressing gown, toilet and cosmetic pouches. I am an avid coordinator!

For the first pair, which have previously been ‘refreshed’ several times, I quilted in a diagonal grid. The bonus for this particular pair is that they are ‘unifoot’ in that they can be worn on either foot.

The second pair are newer and have been re-designed by The White Company. Now there is a definite left and right mule and the instep pattern piece has been extended so that there is less chance of the mule slipping off your foot. The second pair has the quilting in a square grid.

I love these mules as they are so comfortable and just right for use in the bathrooms when walking on the cold floors.

Projects #48 & #49 completed 28th July 2021

Alteration to Shift Dress

Regular readers will be aware that I dislike alterations but I have in my wardrobe a shift dress that I made when first exploring jersey sewing and it was in need of some radical alteration.

The dress was originally made according to a Prima pattern APRIL 1997 designed for woven and having been washed and worn over the years was now too big. The dress bore the styling of the the eighties including shoulder pads and was very long. I have never liked the faced neckline which was a little too high and also the shoulders were too wide for current fashion.

To start the alteration I first removed the facing and re-cut a lower neckline. I removed the sleeves and shoulder pads before restitching the shoulder seam. Then I stitched new side seams, taking off approximately 1 inch from each side seam. The sleeves were then re-inserted.

I cut about 4 inches from the length of the dress and used some of that to make a neckband. I re-hemmed the dress with a 1 inch turning.

Altered dress

The dress is now much more flattering although it could still do with some skimming down at the hips. I will wait and see if I lose any more weight to make it worthwhile altering the dress further.

I plan to revisit this pattern in 2020 and try this different silhouette as a change from my numerous shirt dresses!

completed 28th November 2019