By: Revanche

DIY: At home alterations, a mini-triumph and fear of commitment

July 2, 2012

On a recent trip, my scheduled program was so boring that I ditched class. With nothing else to do in the immediate area but eat or shop, and armed with a 30% coupon for one of the nearby stores, I decided to try dowsing for a sale sweater or a jacket.

I came up empty for outerwear but found a cheerful top with decoration along the neckline, and an interesting billowy, elasticized bottom.

One problem.  Armholes were too big, the neckline was too low and the sides were too big around my ribcage. Ok, three problems. Normally, I’d just put it back but experimentally, tried to pretend I had a tailor looking at it. What would they do?

My theory: Take the straps just came up a couple inches. That should take up the neckline, tends to reduce the armholes and brings the sides up so that they appear slimmer. I might be able to solve all the fit problems in one go.

With the coupon, the top came to $21 – a bargain if I managed a successful home tailoring job. Less so if it cost $5-10 at the tailor.

The sides were questionable. On a different shirt, just taking up the straps alone might not be enough to slim the sides and I wasn’t sure I’d the skill to hand-slim them, but because it was sort of tulip shaped, it might just fly.

With encouragement and a bit of advice from Kelly of Alterations Needed, I set to work. The decorations were a little tricky – the beads were actually strung on thread together before they were tacked down so I had to be even more careful about how I pulled them out, and preserve enough thread to tie off so the loose end didn’t let loose a torrent of unintended consequences.

Result?  Snug!

But as PiC still can’t quite comprehend, I have a fear of commitment and can’t quite bring myself to cut away the taken up material. Not because I might need to let it out again. Just because.

I forgot to take a Before picture and the After picture is nothing to brag about. Awkward self portraits don’t really do justice to the tailoring job.

The first success emboldened me to take on a $5 final sale H&M tank top I’d never worn because the V neck was too revealing. Unfortunately, these alterations weren’t an unmitigated success.

The neckline is now just moderately appropriate but not great. It can’t come up any higher because there’s no more wiggle room in the armholes; any more and I’ll cut off circulation to my arms, and go beyond the acceptable stretch limits of the fabric as indicated by the blue circles.  Ah well, win some, sort of do ok with some.

While I certainly won’t be hiring myself out as a tailor any time soon, I can save myself the cost of the odd  (very little) job.

Do you do your own alterations or does everything go to the tailor?  Do you get everything tailored a la Clinton and Stacy’s advice? 

More on Alterations:

Well Heeled guest posted on the cost of alterations for Daisy at Add Vodka.
Mochi & Macarons on the frustrating tailoring decisions now that she’s between sizes
My recent purchases that mostly went back because they were big tailoring jobs
The Economics of Being Oddly Shaped

17 Responses to “DIY: At home alterations, a mini-triumph and fear of commitment”

  1. Ms. S says:

    I very seldom do either. A sewing machine is on my wishlist so that I can do minor fixes on my own. I’d still take jeans and major jobs to the tailor. You did a good job on your items.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, as simple as a straight seam on jeans might appear I feel like those would be far too tough to do, especially by hand.

      I’d love to see how your projects go once you get a machine.

  2. I do straight hems and that’s about it. Otherwise, I TRY to do those kinds of fixes like bringing up the neckline by sewing the straps or moving buttons, but it usually ends up looking hacked.

    For anything like taking in a skirt at the sides, I just take it to a tailor, especially since I don’t go to tailors lightly. I don’t want to spend the money unless the item is really nice.

  3. (And thank you for the link :D)

    • Revanche says:

      You’re welcome! Probably not surprisingly, I have a little trouble with the straight seams by hand 🙂

      And I’m still not convinced that the second tank (the grey one) doesn’t look hacked.

  4. I’d like to learn how to do my own simple alterations, like hemming, but need to get a sewing machine!! I do get alterations done regularly and it sets me back at least a couple hundred per year. But worth it in the end to have clothes that fit alot better, especially if you’re petite.

    • Revanche says:

      It’s absolutely frightening how much alterations costs, especially up here. I was reconciled to it in Southern California because I had a nicer tailor whose costs weren’t so brutal but I can easily rack up a bill for a couple hundred dollars on a handful of things here.

  5. Ohhh that second tank with the lace is too cute for words. And after your alteration, I don’t think it’s too revealing. If it feels that way, maybe you could find a compatible lacy cami to go under it…so it looks like you intend for the undergarment to show?

    Moi, I can do minor alterations — take in a skirt, if it doesn’t have a tailored waistband, for example. On rare occasions, I’ll take something I really value in to a tailor. But usually…if it doesn’t fit, I don’t buy it.

    • Revanche says:

      I’m going to give it a whirl and see how it feels first. Then I could try tacking a fichu-like bit underneath or something.

      With my odd size, generally nearly nothing fits so this is the compromise!

  6. Thrifty Writer says:

    With that second top, if you don’t want to wear a lace camisole under it, as one of the other commenters suggested, how about stitching a piece of flat black lace there – sort of like a fake shirt-under-the- shirt look? I did this with a shirt, and it looks fine and is much more comfortable to wear, since I don’t have to worry about the neckline anymore.

  7. Michael says:

    I only wish I could do alterations. I can’t even sew. I have to say, both tops look great to me after your work.

    • Revanche says:

      I am forever grateful that I was taught to thread a needle and take simple stitches when I was really young. That’s still all I can do but hey – I’ll take it! 🙂

      And thanks!

  8. After seeing the success of DIY alterations of Extra Petite, it makes me want to go out and buy myself a sewing machine to try it myself! I’m sure I would be in a for a rude awakening of how much skill tailoring requires. 😛

    I really like the white top on you! So pretty!

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks! Baby steps and lots of patience, and I’m sure actual guidance would go a long way. 🙂 I’m just guessing with a lot of my trials.

  9. SewPetiteGal says:

    Congrats on your first successful alteration (of many, I’m sure)!

    Um yeah, I almost never snip away the excess fabric post-alterations. Just like I never snip price tags until the day I wear the new item. There’s just a little niggling feeling that tells me I’ll regret doing it, lol.

    • Revanche says:

      A kindred spirit! So good to know I’m not the only one who does (or doesn’t, actually) both things.

      And thank you kindly.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red