Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's the little things

I feel like I haven't posted any new refashions for quite a while... but that's because I've been so busy with insignificant alterations, minor modifications, and fast fixes that I haven't had the time to embark on any really ambitious projects (or the few that I've done haven't had a chance to be worn yet). Nonetheless, I've completed 22 sewing projects since the beginning of June—surely there must be some share-worthy takeaways in all that work! Here are a few examples of small projects and some lessons learned. Sorry, it ended up being quite long!

On quick & dirty alterations

Lately, almost every new piece of clothing I've acquired has needed some minor adjustments to the fit. In the interest of making the most of my valuable time (and keeping my Projects Box from overflowing!), I've learned to embrace shoddy workmanship—and I mean that in the nicest way possible! I'm talking about doing only as much as necessary to get a minimum viable product. I'm talking about sewing with your longest stitch, not bothering to backstitch the ends, not even trimming the loose threads until right before you wear it... If you sew like this, your work may not last long...but by then you'll have a better idea of whether you really like that item (and the new fit) enough to commit to it permanently. So when your initial alterations start to unravel, that's when it's time to do them right!

Left, a really messy seam I did on a skirt waistband.
Right, the same seam from the outside! You can barely tell it's a total disaster!

On creative waist-nipping

One of my most frequent alterations is to take in the waist of too-big shirts. I have a tried-and-true method of narrowing the side seams, but that doesn't work for every shirt—especially the ones made of non-stretchy material. One of my favorite techniques is to sew two princess seams up the back, which keeps the front looking intact.

These particular seams down the back were extra tricky to sew since the fabric was ruched.
But somehow I managed (a little lopsidedly). It looks much better now from the front!
On one longer shirt, I stopped sewing the seams midway down the back, causing a sudden dramatic flare that reminded me of a bustle. Different! Fun!

On appliqué

I really want to embellish my own clothes...but most techniques to do this are too expensive, too time consuming, too failure-prone, or require equipment I don't have. The one decoration technique that seems to work with my laziness level and budget is glued-on appliqués. I did this for the first time with my heart pajama shirt, and again recently with a simple striped T-shirt (stripes stolen from another shirt). Something about gluing on decorations seems vaguely like cheating (at least to my sewing-obsessed mind), but if it works, it works!

On artful mismatching

I was a little upset when I discovered that the one of my handpainted shoes from Indonesia had lost one of the decorative tacks that held the uppers onto the wooden soles. Fortunately, I remembered I had some very similar tacks (I think they were originally for upholstery, but I'd been using them on my cork board) and hammered one in. The new tack is a little smaller, and silver while the others are brass, but beggars can't be choosers! I'm of half a mind to switch out some or all of the other tacks for a more cohesive effect, but...I could also just say that the barely noticeable mismatch is a charming quirk that adds character!

The tack on the left is the replacement.

On surprise successes

My friends who dump their old clothes on me (again, in the nicest way possible!) sometimes dump stuff that I just have to shake my head at—stuff that was sewn so poorly, it never should have appeared in a store to begin with. Most of these, I've had to just let go, because fixing them is beyond my ability level. One such garment, however, didn't meet such a depressing fate! When the strap gaped weirdly at my chest, I found I could fix it by sewing a tiny angled seam (I guess it was a sort of dart) across it. Thanks to the busy pattern, the seam is barely noticeable, and now the straps lie neatly where they belong! I guess you never know until you try!
Left: Weirdly gaping shoulder strap at 3:00. Right, no gape! (reversed because the first picture was taken in a mirror)


RePurposeFul said...

Great and helpful ideas! I particularly like the one with the "bustle"!

RanchHouse said...

Thanks for sharing. I admire the "little" fixes that keep a garment in rotation. They are so important to saving a garment. I also have a "little" fixes basket that I really need to get to.
Love the princess seams in the back. It is nice to show off the curves.

Heidi said...

Great entry! I took the little fixes approach to repair 2-3 sets of shoes a few months ago. Now 2 of my fave pairs are wearable again!

I really like the print play with your last 2 photos..