Advanced search

Whether you’re a beauty novice or a confirmed fashionista, this topic is for consulting Mumsnetters on all things style-related. Plus, check out our Swears By page for the inside track on the next Mumsnet must-have.

Altering clothes to fit? Does anyone else do this?

(38 Posts)
Dowser Sun 02-Aug-15 12:21:02

I'm not a tailoress but I know my way around a basic sewing machine.

A few months ago I bought a lovely dress in my size. Got it home and it was tight on the boobs.

Course I did my usual trick of forgettingntontake it back and my boobs never lost any weight despite 3 months of serious dieting so I decided to have a go at making it bigger myself.

It is in a jersey fabric with a fair bit of black in it. It was going to be impossible to match the fabric so I bought some wide stretch lace. Took a deep breath and cut down the back bodice . Overlaid the lace, . Opened up the waist, let that out about. Stitched it all back together.

It was scary but I was pleased with the results and when asked no one knew it hadn't come like that.
Would love to hear your stories. See if they give me creative inspiration on what's lurking in my wardrobe.

Need to add, like picking your battles, I pick my victims.i only look for things that are doable with the minimum amount of fuss.

If I get a bit more skilled, who knows!

yallahabibi Sun 02-Aug-15 13:56:09

I buy dresses I like on eBay or in sales in large sizes and take them in or if complicated have in done at a cheap tailors .
I am tall and find things in my actual size out of proportion . Bigger stuff slips off the shoulders and looks boxy but a few darts or seams later it is great !

Chocolateteabag Sun 02-Aug-15 14:03:32

I have a small(ish) waist and big hips so can't find trousers which fit both.
I have taken in three pairs of trousers up the back seam to get the right fit. It's fiddly though but plenty of tutorials about online to help if needed.

I've also had sale dresses taken in by a seamstress - worth it for me as the fabric was fiddly and also meant I got the dress to fit rather than just adding to my "to do one day" pile.

It's definitely worth it if you are an in between size and can find things in sales.

Shesparkles Sun 02-Aug-15 14:06:58

I do it all the time....I've been seeing and dressmaking for over 30 years and it seems to be a dying skill.
What OP did sounds great, and the bonus is that no one else will have the same dress.
I do loads of clothes alterations for other people, to the point where if I get voluntary redundancy from my job, I'll be doing it full time

Djangor3725 Sun 02-Aug-15 14:13:13

I'm not as clever as you so mainly do shortening of hems & shoulder straps, together with replacing buttons (I hate cheap plastic buttons) & dying.
Just cut the bottom of 2 tunic length shirts which I've scarcely worn, ironed the new hem how I want it, sown it up & got 2 smart shirts of perfect length.
I use a dressmaker for bigger alterations & the last one was to cut the top of a rather revealing strappy LKB silk jersey dress that I got off ebay & convert it to a skirt.She charged £7. I could probably have done it but didn't have the nerve.

Trills Sun 02-Aug-15 14:19:52

I don't think you need to say "tailoress" - you can just say "tailor".

Nobody says "authoress" these days, do they?

I aspire to be the sort of person who buys "good" clothes and has them altered, rather than just getting lots of things for £10 each from H&M.

SylvanianCaracal Sun 02-Aug-15 14:30:49

Yes I buy things on ebay and alter them, for example I might not like the shape of a dress but love the print, so buy it in a large size and use the fabric in skirt to make a top or simple miniskirt.

I'm tall and long-bodied so dresses often have the bodice and waist too high up. I take the sleeves off, cut open the shoulder seam and insert a section of fabric taken from the sleeves to make longer shoulder straps. (This only works with a busy print though, on plain fabric it would be very visible.)

I've also used cut-off sleeves to add pockets to dresses.

If a dress or skirt is too short I sometimes add a contrasting section at the hem – I got a lovely bright orange floral dress for a wedding but it was a bit short so I added a strip of orange dupion silk at the hem, about 10cm deep. It looks fab and like a pricey creation from Toast, if I say so myself!

I'm also always taking in dresses and tops at the side seams to make them more fitted and less boxy. (Why the obsession with boxy in so many shops, it really does not look good on most of us?)

The only thing is it's scary cutting up something new and expensive, so I usually save my more experimental attempts for ebay purchases or old clothes. If I see something I like that's expensive, I just check ebay for it because I know it will come up eventually.

SunnyL Sun 02-Aug-15 15:02:46

Next step is making your own clothes from scratch OP. It won't save you a tremendous amount of money but you'll get great fitting clothes that no one else owns. I started sewing 4 years ago amd haven't looked back. In fact I'm wben making a few quid doing alterations for others now grin

Djangor3725 Sun 02-Aug-15 15:36:37

I've been wanting to lengthen a couple of skirts for ages & was uncertain what fabric to use & how to join the 2 sections - can you advise on the latter, Sylvanian, & is your original orange dress made of silk like the addition?

SylvanianCaracal Sun 02-Aug-15 15:45:14

Hi, no the rest of the dress is a lightweight cotton, but you could easily join any 2 fabrics as long as they're roughly the same weight, and ideally both woven (it is a bit harder to sew and align stretchy fabrics neatly especially if you're machine sewing).

I pinned the strip to the existing hem, right sides together, and starting at a side seam. Then pinned all the way around, and where the strip came back to the start, folded it over and lay it flat on top of the starting end, and pinned this down.

Them machine sewed right around, then carefully hand-stitched the join. (You could sew the strip into a loop first, but you'd have to be very sure you had it exactly the right size as the dress hem, and that's quite tricky.)

Finally I turned up the bottom of the strip to make a new hem. Folded it over twice, pinned and machine sewed (but you could lightly hand stitch on the inside if you wanted it invisible). Then pressed the whole thing flat.

stripytees Sun 02-Aug-15 16:34:44

Has anyone taken in skirts? Is it easy? I want to learn to do that. After losing weight this year a lot of my favourite skirts are now a size too big.

Tizwailor Sun 02-Aug-15 16:43:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Djangor3725 Sun 02-Aug-15 17:11:03

Thanks so much, Sylvanian - a huge help to me.

FrugalFashionista Sun 02-Aug-15 17:22:08

Your alteration sounds fab! Few things are as pleasurable as a successful home alteration. I learned dressmaking as a teen and for some years made most of my clothes myself.

I have fixed a handknit (not by me) Norwegian sweater that was too big for me, I shortened and refitted the sleeves. I took two evenings but I have a feeling that it will me my favorite this winter.

FrugalFashionista Sun 02-Aug-15 17:28:26

Stripy some skirts are easy to take in (if there is no waistband, you just take in at side seams). Refitting the waistband or refitting a zipper are a lot more work. If there are waistline darts, the alterations have to be done symmetrically on both sides.

I've made all kinds of skirts in the past, including garhered, pleated and lined ones, but am too lazy these days to do complicated alterations.

Dowser Sun 02-Aug-15 23:26:54

I used to make clothes when I was an impoverished teen. Mum ( was the seamstress) used to help me to cut out and advise me how to do certain things.

In fact I think it's easier to make from scratch than alter.

I've altered a dress for my hen night. Another one that was tight and I'd bought in a sale and forgot to take back. It's white lace and this one had a zip. I just removed the zip and put another lace panel all down the back.

I forgot I altered a cardigan which was a bit big. I just seaweed up the sleeve and slimmed it down and then down the jumper sides. Turned the sleeves up a bit and there you go. Job done.

I do like the idea of buying something bigger and making it to fit if you really like the material.

I hope more people join in with the thread. In case they can give me some more ideas.

I'm definitely going to shorten some of my winter dresses.

Dowser Sun 02-Aug-15 23:29:27

My 39 year old sewing machine gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. So I bought a new one as I believe no home should be without one, even if you just want to take up some curtains.

It's quite a doddle with a new machine. I wish I'd got one earlier.

Laura7010 Sun 02-Aug-15 23:37:37

You'll be pleased to know I fly the flag of sewing and dress making by teaching Textiles at secondary school. I did just alter 3 bridesmaid dresses, one being mine the day before the wedding!
In regards to tailor/tailoress you would only use the term in regards to tailoring/suits. That's how I've been taught anyway.

measles64 Sun 02-Aug-15 23:42:07

I dragged out the sewing machine this week to make flares for a retro party had forgotten how much I enjoyed sewing. I am short and sometimes have to take up the shoulders on dresses because the armholes are too big. I also have to shorten dresses. I love fabric shops but stick to making curtains and cushion covers.

Dowser Sun 02-Aug-15 23:43:11

What did you have to do Laura and what fabric was it.

The thought of altering a fine chiffon fill me with dread!

Laura7010 Sun 02-Aug-15 23:58:07

I had to shorten the shoulder strap on mine as I'm a midget and take them all up. The strap was wide and frilly so couldn't just nip it in, had to take the top seam apart and feed it further down, see it to the lining and then slip stitch it to the dress. Two were this funny Jersey which I was dreading but didn't turn out too badly. The fabric was good for me to wear as I'm six months pregnant! The third was the dreaded chiffon shock I left it till last and there was acres of it cut on the bias, groan. Never admit your skills to others, apart from mines pretty obvious as I teach it, lol!

suzanneyeswecan Mon 03-Aug-15 00:06:21

yes I'm always taking things up/in, sometimes turning them into other things, eg a voluminous jersey dress into a sort of sleeveless onsie (for 'loungewear' purposes)

I used to make things from scratch but that was back in the day when clothes seemed expensive, now I have far too many

DustBunnyFarmer Mon 03-Aug-15 00:09:56

I'm long in the body, so buy long trousers for the waist-to-crotch length and take the trouser legs (which are invariably too long) up. I also have to buy big blouses to accommodate my bust, but end up with lots of fabric around my waist/middle so take in at the side seam or deepen the darts. I sometimes replace buttons on garments to improve the look of them and make minor adjustments to improve fit. I also do the replacement buttons, dropped hems, shorten curtains, minor repairs in our house etc. I'm crap at making garments from scratch though - no patience for it.

I have two (hand-me-down) sewing machines which are both currently out of service. Need to get them fixed. My Mum's old machine is a dinosaur, but I find it much easier that the newer one I was given, so I'll probably have that one fixed ahead of the newer one.

goodasitgets Mon 03-Aug-15 02:42:15

Wish we had been taught at school. I can't sew for toffee, and having 34K bust and 10 inch difference between bust and waist and waist and hips, clothes can be a nightmare

GaryBaldy Mon 03-Aug-15 07:46:07

Being an odd shape I do often make little alterations so that things fit better.

My most ambitious was to put a zip in DS's school hoodie as he won't wear anything that he has to pull over his head in case it ruins his hair!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: