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Before and after altering a dress

Today being the first day of spring, I felt it was a great day to head to the mall and see if I could add anything to my spring wardrobe! Despite having proven that you are not 21 forever, I ventured into Forever 21 and grabbed a couple of dresses that were each about $10. One fit perfectly, but the other was too big in the bust – unfortunately a typical problem for me.

As I mentioned in this post, I’m really interested in learning to alter clothes, so I decided to buy the dress and give it a try!

It may be hard to see in the above “before” picture, but when I put on the dress as I bought it, it really sagged in the armpits and showed my bra. There was no way I could wear this without a cardigan, and it just made me look frumpy. But I’m tired of always having to wear cardigans with my $10 dresses!

step one of altering a dress

I pinched and tucked and played around with the dress a little, and decided what it needed was the side stitches brought in a little under the arms.

Step two of altering a dress

Next I turned the dress inside out and put it on. If I had a dressform I guess I could just put the dress on there, but alas, I have only myself. This way I could mark about where I wanted to sew to take in the sides.

Step three of altering a dress

I placed pins along where I expected to stitch on each side, and then took the dress back off.

Step four of altering a dress

I did some measuring and decided to take the dress in 1 1/4″ on each side, so I hand-basted a line that started 1 1/4″ from the edge and converged with the existing stitch at the waistline.

step five of altering a dress

I tried the dress on for fit and decided to add a little slack before using my sewing machine to stitch a more permanent line.

step six of altering a dress with a sewing machine

After sewing with the machine, I noticed that on one side the armhole hadn’t lined up properly (left). I possibly could have left it alone and no one would have noticed (or if they did, they’d just assume it was a cheap dress), but I decided to go all the way and fix it. I opened the seam a few inches and re-stitched so that the armhole lined up more smoothly.

step seven of altering a dress with a sewing machine

After trying the dress on for fit, the last step was to trim the seam allowances and finish them with an overlock stitch since I don’t have a serger. Theoretically I could have just left them as they were because they didn’t show through the dress when I wore it, but I decided to go all the way and finish the edges myself.

finished product after altering a dress with a sewing machine

Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out! I have a few dresses that I have this problem with, but they all have something quirky like a lining or a bias finishing on the armhole that would make them a little more difficult to take in, so I’m glad I got to try it for the first time on a dress that I could just pinch in and stitch.

Definitely looking forward to more alterations projects in the future!

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