A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The altered wardrobe

So I have been whining here and there about how nothing from my handmade wardrobe fits anymore, and how alterations haven't worked out the way I want them to.  I think maybe I was indulging in some bad-attitude moments, because lately I've been very motivated to alter existing pieces to fit, with a good deal of success.

I did, at first, think I would just start sewing new clothes. But then I realized that I was going to have to redraft and/or refit every single pattern just as if I were starting over.  That knocked the sewjo right out of me.  I had built up such a reassuring repertoire of TNT patterns before I lost weight, that I had many options to choose from when I was hit with the urge to sew something fast and well-fitting.

Not anymore.

So I've been hitting the sewing machine with a few old makes that I wanted to salvage.  Today I want to share my newly altered Josephine tops. These were made in 2017 from a Made By Rae pattern that I modified a bit. They've gotten a lot of use in the summers.  But with my changing shape, the tops had not only become too wide, but the armholes were too low and they now seemed much too long.

This top was made from a long-hoarded Kaffe Fasset rayon challis.  It was actually my second go at this pattern in the fabric; the first one suffered a horrible washing-machine death. Here's a photo of the second version when I sewed it about two years ago:

Before (original blog post).

I took in the sides of this one from the armhole down, thereby raising the armhole, reducing volume and eliminating the side slits all at the same time. I made an elastic casing and inserted 1/2" elastic to create a blouson top.  This is what it looks like now:

I'm so happy with these changes and think this one will go well with jeans, shorts and skirts when I'm home this summer!

My gingham version of this pattern was one of my summer wardrobe all-stars.  Here's a photo from my original blog post about it:

Before (original blog post).
To alter this one, I ended up sewing the tucks all the way down to the hem (they were previously only about half-way down the bodice). This removed 3" of ease from the bodice. I also took up the shoulder seam about 3/4" to raise the bust dart, which was now too low.  At first I couldn't figure out why the bust dart would suddenly be too low, since my bust measurement hasn't changed that much compared to my other measurements.  I guess maybe the volume is distributed differently, or maybe a little goes a long way when it comes to bust circumference and dart position.  As a bonus, this modification also raised the armholes to a more modest location.  Then I cropped the whole top about 3".  It's still boxy, but not so overwhelming in the shorter length.

I think I'm more excited about these modifications than I have been about any recent garments I've made. There is something so satisfying about salvaging previously loved pieces that I was feeling sad about losing.  I"m feeling invigorated to go through my closet and figure out what else I can refashion.

As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!


  1. Well done! Both tops look great!!

  2. I love both of your newly modified tops. They look great on you!

  3. Your darts are *perfect*. Swoon...

    Nice job with the refashioning! It's encouraging. I have a couple of fall/winter items that I really love and would hate to part with but they are about 1 to 1.5 sizes too big. I may give it a go.

    1. Thanks! I think the ones on the gingham top ended up a tiny bit too high but I am still pretty happy with it. I'm finding the altering very satisfying, and it's easier and less daunting as I go!


Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!