Sewing adventure: Frumpy to Fitted

Enough reminiscing for now! On to my present-day adventure..in the sewing room!  It used to be a jungle in there, lemme tell ya.  A recent organization project has made it more navigable, and consequently I more frequently venture in there, whereas before I would often close the door and try to forget the mayhem that lay behind it.    

This particular instance of creativity was conjured up when I wanted to pare down my hubby’s T-shirt collection (do YOU have an army of T-shirts, too?…I’m going to make heavy-duty t-shirt bags out of them, since I like the one I have already so much), and decided I must be fair.  You know the rule: if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  But…I have a hard time getting rid of anything (working on that).  Still, I couldn’t justify keeping something that made me feel like an old lady when I wore it.  I just loved the colors and the feel, so I made myself a deal.  If I could refashion it into something I would wear, I could keep it.  Sweet Sassafras has a lovely tutorial on how to alter a wool sweater, but certainly it needn’t be wool for her method to work.  Not all my attempts at clothing alteration are successful, but a spur-of the moment project can be fun whether or not it works out, especially since I was going to get rid of the sweater anyhow.  So, I lost track of time at my sewing machine.  

Pardon the poor photo quality, please.  
Before: looks like I raided Granny’s closet.
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 Note the collar and the waistline.
What’s wrong with this picture?  The collar annoyed me because it came up too high and the shirts I liked to wear under it never worked right with it.  Trying to wear the top unbuttoned didn’t work well because the button flopped open oddly.  As for the waistline, perhaps it’s because I’m a new mom with a post-pregnancy body that the whole muffin-top affect makes me not want to wear sweaters that supply the wearer with one regardless if it’s actually under there or not.

What to do about it?  Attack it with the sewing machine and scissors, of course.  First, I guestimated (measuring isn’t usually my area of expertise) how much to tailor for a more fitted look. It would have been wise to try the sweater on inside-out (since that’s the way you sew the new seams) and pinch and pin the excess rather than wing it, since I have better things to do than seam-rip. Or better yet, use the sewing form I am lucky to have nabbed off craigslist for cheap (but it has an unfinished dress project on it I didn’t want to disturb).  Thankfully, I eyeballed it well enough that it fit the first time, with a few extra alterations (like slimming the sleeves further so I didn’t have granny-arm-flab going on.)

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I had used small stitches (which would have been awful to have to pull out again) so after cutting, the raw edges would not fray and rip out.
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I decided to be really committed and just cut the excess off, hoping I wasn’t overzealous with the new sizing.  No going back now!  I tried it on and breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t too tight.  Again, if you do this, you can take the precautions that I skipped because I like to live dangerously…or am just lazy sometimes.

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So the fit was much better, but the ribbing bothered me a lot at the waistline, so I cut it off, along with the neckline, which I made into a V-neck.  I didn’t like losing the length at the waist, but it looked ok anyhow.  With it cut off, I sewed in the sides again about another inch for a better fit, then decided to reattach the hem now that it wasn’t narrower at the hips than the middle.  There may be a better way to deal with the hem than how I did it, but it worked.  Then I used a satin ribbon as binding around the collar and though it wasn’t the most perfect outcome, I was satisfied.

After:

finalproduct
I wore it the next day.  It was an enjoyable project and I think I’ll be doing more versions of it in the future.  I like the idea of using what you have, and if what you have doesn’t work for you anymore, changing it so it does!

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