Yay! I managed to fit in another project this month! I surprised the hell out of myself by knocking out one more thing this afternoon. To be fair it was more of an alteration, but I think it counts just the same.
Last month I posted my plan for the Sewcialist‘s tribute month. To summarize, I’m paying tribute to Mrs. Mole from Fit for a Queen by altering a much too small skirt to fit my current figure. Like, the skirt was 7-8 inches too small in the waist. Whoops!
Success!!!!! This turned out to be a really simple and fun project.
First I took the old waist band off very very carefully as the silk is so thin the seam ripper could easily slice right through. Then I folded the skirt in quarters and turned to my trusted copy of Patternmaking for Fashion Design to find out the waist radius for my current waist size. A quick snip to enlarge the waist and I was on my way.
The next step was to insert a side zipper. The original dress had a front waistband that wrapped around the back and hooked, then a separate back waistband wrapped to the front and tied. There were 5 inch openings on each side to allowed room to pull the skirt on. I closed one of the side openings and enlarged the other to make room for a zipper. I used an invisible zip because that’s what I had on had, but a lapped zipper also would have worked well.
I discarded the original front waistband that hooked because it was too short to reuse and stabilized with a material that would have been hard to find today. The back waistband/tie was gloriously long! I picked up some purple silk organza at The Fabric Store (the same outing as my previous LACMA excursion) and inserted a double wide length into the new waistband to stabilize the original silk. Lucky me, the silk pressed like a dream and the original 60 year old creases made sewing the new waistband to the skirt very very easy. It was shocking how nicely those creases agreed with the alteration process. I hand stitched the waistband down on the inside and now all the raw edges are completely inclosed.
The only problem is figuring out where I can wear a hand-painted Mexican silk skirt with piggy banks. Church? Date night? Work? Back to School Night? It is totally fabulous and feels wonderful in this summer heat, but it is a lot of look if you know what I mean. And should I stick with the white blouse? I’m kind of tempted to whip up something in hot pink or teal instead. A simple Cashmerette Springfield might work without overwhelming the beauty of the skirt. Anyone want to throw out an opinion? In the meantime I’ll keep playing dress up and spinning around my yard.
After going silent for a couple of years the Sewcialists are back and holding tribute months on their site. While I’ve been helping out a tiny bit behind the scenes I will not be a contributor this month. And that’s a good thing because we just returned from vacation this evening and I haven’t even started my project for Tribute Month. For August, sewing bloggers and Instragrammers will be picking another sewer as their inspiration and complete a project in tribute. However, having just returned to town and the summer heat I’m taking a slightly different path. Instead of sewing a project from scratch, my tribute project will be all about altering an existing garment.
Ever bought a garment only to find out it is a tad bit smaller than you’d expected? HAHA! Yeah. It happens to the best of us. Enter Mrs. Mole from Fit For a Queen. She writes a blunt, hilarious, and informative blog about her business altering bridal gowns and other garments. It is my very favorite blog because I learn from her techniques, but also have to laugh at all the poor decisions and delusional behavior some of her clients exhibit.
For Sewcialist’s Tribute month I dug back into the closet to find a too small garment to alter. I have about a dozen beautiful but tiny things tucked away that I cannot bear to give up to the donate pile. Some of them would take major re-working, but I don’t have time to tackle a big project. I ended up choosing this stunning 1950s Mexican handpainted silk skirt.
I have zero recollection where I acquired this purple pig adorned beauty, but it is in excellent shape. No holes, perfect stitching, and just one tiny rust stain that no one would ever notice except me.
Size 14 in the 1950s is not exactly the same as today’s size 14. That’s probably where my problem began. I would guess I found this skirt either online or in a vintage shop, saw the size, and then assumed it would fit. Or maybe it did actually fit. Either way this sucker is best suited for Marilyn Monroe’s waistline over my current waist circumference. I need to add 7-8 inches.
So here is my plan.
- Remove the current waistband. Save the tie to refashion a new longer waistband. (Any tips on acquiring interfacing for vintage silk?)
- Recut the waist opening to fit my current waist. This will make the skirt shorter, but not by a lot, slightly above the knee
- Add a side zipper. This skirt has no closure currently.
I’m hoping the hem won’t need to be re-done since it is so perfect, but I can always re-access once steps 1-3 re completed.
What do you think? Am I ruining a precious item? Do you also find Mrs. Mole’s writing hilarious? Are you making a tribute project as well?
Some people love the process of making things. They make sure each step is perfect before moving forward. Maybe they take good notes. I’m not that kind of sewer. I like getting to the finished product. But I’ve been working on tweaking the fit of my clothes because finished projects aren’t worth much if they are badly fitting.
Moving forward I’m going to strive to take more time on the process of sewing, but for right now I’m in alterations land. For example, here is my Appleton Dress right after I finished it.
See those folds above the bust? Well I contacted Jenny (the pattern designer) for her feedback and she mentioned something called a concave chest alteration. It can come from poor posture or a large and lower bust. That I certainly have even in a well fitted bra.
So armed with a name for the alteration needed I hit the internet and found this fantastic guide from Sew News. Ta-da! They have something you can do to fix an already finished garment! So I altered my Appleton Dress and while the fit is not as good with an after though fix, the results look much better!
Next I tackled the Emery Dress that gave me such grief.
See the before?
And now the after!
I ended up taking in the back all the way from neckline to waist by 1/2 inch and also re-did the zipper to take it in further. And the top of the zipper is still funky, but the rest of the fit is much much improved.
Just look at how much more smoothly the fabric flows! Next I really need to make a muslin of the Emery dress so I can tune in the fit on a fabric without such a heavy pattern. And doing all these alterations reminds me how much I should make a new block. I’ve gotten comfortable with manipulating patterns and making up my own that it seem silly to so heavily alter someone else’s pattern. But on the other hand sometimes you don’t want to re-invent the wheel. So we’ll see.
Right now I am deep into making an 1899 winter dress. I need to be done by Thursday. Hopefully I make it! I know I will. All I have left to do is re-work my under garments and decorate the outer garments, but it is fussy work.