Without the aid of a safety net…

I bought a dress at the weekend, for the princely sum of £4 from the flea market bit of the Frome Super Market.

As a complete aside, the Frome Super Market is AMAZING. It started off as an Artisan Market up one of the quaint little streets in the artisan-y bit of the town and has now exploded into a monthly extravaganza of crafts, farmers market, food stalls, and a flea market, with the main road shut off and live music and all sorts of fabulous-ness.
Well worth a visit, even if you aren’t that local. It is on on the 1st Sunday of the month, from now until Christmas. An inspiration as to what a market town really should be like.

Anyway, the dress.

Dress alteration21There was nowhere to try it on, so I did that really crap unhelpful thing of ‘holding up against me’ as an attempt at gauging the fit, and as I liked the pattern so much, I went a bit crazy and stumped up the £4.
When I got it home and tried it on, it kind of fitted, but was a bit ‘lacking in shape’ and more than a little sack-like, so I decided to have a go at some alterations.
On my own.
With no help.
I didn’t even consult a book. Or Pinterest.

I kind of thought “How hard can it be?” and assumed that you just sew new seams where you want them be to give the dress more shape.
So I did!

FIrst off I stood in front of the mirror and grabbed a big wodge of fabric, so that the dress looked ‘about right’, and then got hubby to measure how much fabric there was (from my back straight out backwards-does that make sense?)
There was 8cm.
Then I marked with a pin, the point at which I wanted the dress to be at it’s narrowest (ie at my waist), and then took the dress off, turned it inside out and measured in 4cm from the side seams on both sides at this point
Dress alteration22

Then I made a curve in pins from the armpit, out to this mark and back to the seam again, on both sides, making sure that the widest point lined up on both sides

Dress alteration23

I tried the dress on (very carefully and gingerly at this point, as I far too lazy to tack, but didn’t want to spend my evening unpicking a very wrong line) and it was ok, so I bravely approached the sewing machine.
I sewed along this line with a shallow zig-zag stitch (thinking I was being clever as it is a stretch fabric, although I later went over this with a straight stitch) on both sides (this is made easier if you place the pins along the line, but with the knobbly bits pointing down, so that you can pull them out as you get to them)
And then tried it on.
The fit was ok, but I made the curve too steep at the bottom and had a funny hitchy bit
Dress alteration24

So I made a new shallower curve back to the original side seam in pins
Dress alteration25and tried again. I didn’t bother unpicking the original line as it would be on the surplus material, I just went forwards and backwards over it at the beginning to make sure it didn’t unravel.
And then tried it on again.

Dress alteration26

I appreciate that in the photo, there looks to be NO difference AT ALL between the 1st and last pictures, except I am looking a bit happier and have my hands in the air (I have no idea why) in the last one, BUT in real, actual life, it has made a big difference.
And then the really scary bit-cutting off the excess fabric. This really is the point of no return. Up until this point, I could un-pick and be back to the original dress. But I took a big deep breath and did it, with my Nana’s old pinking shears

Dress alteration1

I am really quite chuffed with myself.
And I think it goes to prove one of the major advantages of buying second hand-if it less expensive, you are more inclined to Have A Go.
Yes, if it had all gone wrong, it would have been a shame to have ruined a perfectly good dress that might have fitted someone else, but it didn’t, and now if fits me!
And I have taught myself some new skills, and have some spare fabric left over to make a flower or something from.

Happy Days 🙂


26 thoughts on “Without the aid of a safety net…

  1. Fab work Jen-oh and I made your healthy muffins today and they are wonderful! I did add a bar of chopped up chocolate too and a bit of vanilla sugar so they are not quite as healthy but thank you so much for another great recipe!Plus thanks to my chicken miss Crumpet for the egg laid this morning for the muffins! Xxx

  2. Excellent – I love your ta-dah photo! Good to try out new sewing skills on something that is not too prescious (like new fabric).

    BTW has anyone watched ‘Fill your house for free’ with Kirstie Allsopp? Thought I would hear all about it on this blog first…… I really enjoyed it and I see it is repeated tonight (13 Aug) Channel 4 at 8:00. Jen – over to you – I will keep an eye open for any comments tomorrow!

      • Hi – sorry missed those particular Tweets – I only manage to catch up with Twitter when there is time….. between blog reading … glad that ‘second-hand’ is being given a positive spin on TV.

      • I think it’s really positive and opens people’s eyes to the fact that they don’t have to head off to Ikea when they need new furniture.

  3. Hi Jen,
    You say you can’t really see a difference in your before and after photo but you really can! The amount of excess fabric seen from the front has been dramatically reduced resulting in a much shallower fold of fabric at the front of the dress and that also means all the way round. I was impressed you did all that from your own guesswork because I’m a dressmaker and if I’m altering dresses the method is very similar! Its great that you are inspiring more people to alter clothes to suit them rather then throwing them away. Also it encourages people to buy second hand even if they don’t like the shape of the original garment because it can nearly always be altered! Well done you, great job!

  4. Well done – it looks much better now its been ‘make do and Jen-ded’ (see what I did there) and I love the print too! Fabulous!

  5. Well done (very brave of you)- it loks great.You could have also sewn some elastic on the inside around the waist for a gathered effect and worn it with a belt.
    I hope we will be seeing more of these clothing alteration posts :o)

  6. Pingback: Six Items IS a Challenge…. | My Make Do and Mend Year

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