Out of The Hat

Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary

Reconstruction: The Closet Era


Some Things Need Tailoring

Like I said in my post, Ive done some light closet purging lately. I make it a habit to go through my clothes, including the stuff that is stashed in the back just in case Ill fit into it again, and donate the stuff that I dont truly love anymore. That being said, there is still a bunch of clothes left at the end that I love, and can get into, but dont actually fit.

I dont mean they squeeze me like sausage wrappings, either. Im talking about stuff that is long in the sleeves, or a short dress, or a shirt that fits like a box. You know, stuff that would be perfectly acceptable to wear if I wasnt artistic, and didnt care if I looked kind of frumpy. That stuff. And in those sort of circumstances, it is clearly my duty to rehabilitate those clothes into something decent.

That is where the sewing machine comes into play, my friends.

If you are going to buy off the racks or used, you will have to learn how to alter clothes so that they fit you flatteringly. Unless you want to just pay someone else to do the work for you, but I couldn’t stand the guilty conscience if I ever did such a thing. You see, the Frau (Codename: my Mother) used to work as a seamstress and tailor, working so seams and sleeves lined up to fit the body in question when she wasn’t making custom curtains and handmade weddings gowns. I would be ashamed to not simply pin and tuck a few inches here and there for a better fit.

Pin the sleeve to the shorter length you want, being sure to match the ribbing on top of itself so the finished seam is smooth and connected

Pin the sleeve to the shorter length you want, being sure to match the ribbing on top of itself so the finished seam is smooth and connected

cut off the area beyond the pin, being sure to leave a little clearance

cut off the area beyond the pin, being sure to leave a little clearance

You can nip in the sides if the chest area is too loose as well. I believe this is called darting, but I`m not as educated in sewing as the Frau, so I`m winging it on this one.

You can nip in the sides if the chest area is too loose as well. I believe this is called darting, but I`m not as educated in sewing as the Frau, so I`m winging it on this one.

The finished result is a shorter, tailored, fitted to you sleeve!

I did ten tanks, following this same pattern on each one. They may be casual, but that`s no excuse for poor fit!

I did five tanks, following this same pattern on each one. They may be casual, but that`s no excuse for poor fit! Can you see the jean scraps at the top from my retrofitted jean trousers?

Tailoring and More

What are some of the easiest things to reconstruct for better fit?

  • Really long straps, like on a tank top, that make the shirt droop oddly at the neckline. Just flip the shirt in question inside out, measure an inch (or other length you measured with the shirt on) down from the top, and sew across. Cut off the now excessive sleeve length, and you have a shirt that fits so well, it`s almost like new!
  • Jeans that flare too much. I had a pair of trouser jeans that oddly stuck out at the knees and flared out farther than the hip. Officially, trouser are meant to be the same width at the ankles as at the hips, with a little nip in at the knees to avoid bagginess. To fix the excessive flaring, I flipped the jeans inside out. I sewed a curved and almost wedge shape into the outside of both legs, and left the inseam alone. It turned out perfectly, though they are more straight leg than trouser pants now. You can do the same with more traditional trouser pants.
  • A shirt that has holes or stains on the last two inches of it. You can cut off the bottom and make a cropped shirt, which is in again this Spring and Summer. Just hem or use a serger on the bottom, and you`re all set!

Are you an upcycler, or a reconstructer?

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14 comments on “Reconstruction: The Closet Era

  1. mel
    March 18, 2013

    my friend altered a few of her t-shirts by taking in an inch or so on each side so that they fit a little more snug-ly and were form-flattering – between that and your post here, I think some of my shirts may be going under the knife soon!

    • TheGreatZambini
      March 18, 2013

      Great! That means shirts you normally don`t wear will be useful again, which is good for the environment, and you`ll look better, which makes it a real win-win! I`m pretty much a sewing newbie, as well, so it`s not that hard to do either. I think it took me less than an hour to do five tanks, actually. If you do it, tell me how it goes!

      • mel
        March 18, 2013

        I’m a sewing newbie too and I would think that this sort of project is a great way to practice. I’m going to bookmark you and get back to you when I do!

      • TheGreatZambini
        March 18, 2013

        It`s a great beginner`s project! I`d suggest, if this is your very first project, you look up the instructions for threading your machine carefully. Some of them are kind of tricky! You could just hand sew it too, which is easier to figure out, if slower to finish. This was about my second project on the machine, if that gives you an idea on skill involved.

  2. BarbaraZ
    March 27, 2013

    Cool! I do these things too. The most adventurous alteration I tried was with jeans on the waist. You know, that horrible gap in the back? I removed the waist band and made some darts in several places and reattached. My machine was a little bit challenged but it worked. I don’t want to do that again though!
    btw, the blog looks gorgeous! You are tempting me to make changes too….. :)

    • TheGreatZambini
      March 27, 2013

      I hate the waist gap! I usually fix that one up right away, it is so annoying. It is hard to do any sewing because jeans are a rather tough material, but something soft and cottony like most t-shirts will probably be a breeze to work on. I`m glad you like the layout! I think I actually spent a few hours working out the best way to refresh it.

      • BarbaraZ
        April 2, 2013

        I was out trying on pants and jeans again yesterday at Chico’s. First time there so I was hopeful. Nope. No sizes for me. While I was trying on those fabulous patterns I remembered my muslin pattern for pants I started working on a few years ago. I might just finish that pattern! I want pants that fit!
        I <3 the layout! Now I really do want to change mine. Just no time for that.

      • TheGreatZambini
        April 3, 2013

        I understand store dissapointment. I have to say, since I`ve recently started a badminton class and gluten free lifestyle, I`ve been losing about a size per week, so I feel a lot better about that sort of thing! Buying something that is a bit bigger than you need overall but fits the points that stick out the most, then tailoring the rest in, is usually a good way to get great fit. And what is the point of wearing a small size if it doesn`t fit well? Changing the layout really gave me about twice as many page views per visitor, so I`d recommend it. It doesn`t actually take that much work, besides a small investment in time. And I feel, “my readers take time to read this stuff, so I can take some time to provide it in a nice format.” I think you can do it!

      • BarbaraZ
        June 15, 2013

        It’s been a very busy time and I haven’t been keeping up with everything. But I’m reminded once again as I worked on another post that I need a change! And I agree with you that if people are going to take the time to read it, it should look good! Congrats on your weight loss! And happy shopping for jeans that fit!

  3. Pingback: Open Minded | The Great Zambini's Blog

  4. gn0mel0ver
    March 2, 2014

    I wish I could sew. I mean really sew! I use the free tailoring service at my Nordstrom Rack when I need something tailored. That has usually served me well. But it would be so much easier to do myself! Thanks for the tips!

    Jenni

    • TheGreat Zambini
      March 2, 2014

      Huh, I didn’t know they had that service. I’ll keep it in mind. And you’re welcome!

  5. bentodays
    March 2, 2014

    You are great with this, I am so bad at sewing so things either end up at the tailor’s or in the giveaway bin!

    • TheGreat Zambini
      March 2, 2014

      Oh no! Well, it is good that you are donating old things instead of throwing them out. As long as you can sew your own buttons, though, not being the best sewer is fine! :)

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2013 by in Fashion, Beauty, Sewing & Crafts and tagged , , , , , , , .

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