Dressing in an Altered State, Part Two

In part one, we discussed altering pants for weight loss. I hope you were able to use the information to extend your pant wardrobe until you finish losing the weight you want.

Simple shirts and blouses can be altered easily, too, for a small weight loss.

Try on the shirt and have someone pin the fit you want, probably about ½ -1 inch on each side. Don’t overfit! You can always take in more if you decide it’s still too big at the fitting.

Turn the shirt inside out and press the side seams flat. For a short sleeve, I don’t recommend taking the hem out of the sleeve; just stitch through it. Also, don’t worry if your armscye (the armhole opening in a garment) seam doesn’t line up exactly. Sometimes the backs and fronts of the original pattern are cut at a different angle so when you take in the seam, it won’t line up again. But it’s under your arm, so who cares! Remember, this is just a quick fix.

Mark the new seam; pin in place, lining up the sleeve hemline and the bottom hemline. Stitch, using the same stitch length as the original seam. Try the shirt on and if you like the fit, serge or trim and zig-zag. Press the seam towards the back of the shirt. Then stitch or bar tack at the hems.

If you are attempting to take in a man’s dress shirt with flat fell seams, you may not want to re-do the seams for a temporary wear. If that is the case, you can take it in as I described above. If you are only taking in the shirt ½ inch or less, I wouldn’t worry about trimming the seam. Stitch in the new seam and press towards the back. If you are taking it in more than 1 inch, you can serge or trim and zig-zag the seam.

Shortening a short sleeve shirt is really easy. A long sleeve with a placket is a little more involved and unless you feel confident about your sewing skills, I don’t advise attempting this yourself.

For the short sleeve, you will want to hem it BEFORE you take in the sides. At the try-on, make sure you can take in the sleeve at the hemline at least one inch. I’ll explain why later. After you have marked the new sleeve length, remove the stitching on the side seam past where you are hemming. So for instance, if you are taking the sleeve up 1 inch, take out the stitches about 3 inches. I usually take out the stitching up to the armscye, just for convenience.

Next press in the new hemline and remove the stitching from the old hem. Trim the hem, and press into place. Match up the sleeve crease but don’t worry that the side seams don’t match up. Stitch the new hem.

Now you will want to follow the directions above for taking in the sides. When you get to the armscye, match up the sleeve seams and the new hemline. You will be taking in the sleeve about an inch or so to compensate for the new hem, so this is why you needed to check the fit first. Finish the seam as recommended above.

This method works on blouses, t-shirts, and men’s shirts. If you are a novice, you may want to start with a shirt that you don’t care about, in case you make a mistake. Once you try this, I hope you will be confident enough to work on other garments in your wardrobe.

Good luck with your weight loss and your alterations!

Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or bstonedesigns@sbcglobal.net.

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Barbara Stone
Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or bstonedesigns@sbcglobal.net.
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1 Response

  1. D. Nethery says:

    Thank you Barbara, For a novice like me, your directions are perfect. Simple to follow. I used your tips for pants alterations and will now tackle a blouse.

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