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Any sewing enthusiasts around? I need some help...

Discussion in 'Personal' started by unhappylil, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. I have just made an impulse buy - I saw a really pretty extra long maxi dress in a sale for £10 instead of £50. I am only 5 ft 4 so I obviously can't wear it as a maxi dress. My plan is to shorten the dress to a suitable length (I couldn't resist buying it as its really pretty).
    I have done some sewing before (made cushions etc) but have never made any alterations to clothing, so any tips/hints would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
    Lil
     
  2. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    Get a proper dressmaker to do it for you, it will look better for it !
     
  3. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    Definitely send it to a dressmaker!
    Depending on the cut of the dress and the pattern and whether or not there are any pleats or ruffles....then you might not be able to 'simply' turn up the hem as you might on a pear of trousers....you might need to look at shortening from the waist....not something for the inexperienced to attempt! ....I can use a needle and would be loathe to attempt it!
     
  4. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    You may be able to do it yourself if thedress is relatively simple. First off all get a friend to help.Put on the dress and stand on a chair or table, unless your friend is able to crawl on the floor. Get a ruler and get your friend to turn the hem up as much as you need. Then you'll need to decide if any needs cutting off. then pin the hem, you can either do a double fold or neaten with zig-zag stitching before hand sewing the hem in place. Press well afterwards.
     
  5. How much do you think it might cost? I did want to do it myself really though as I have quite a few things that I would like to make alterations to...
     
  6. Do you actually know how to do a hand hemming stitch? How to tack? How much to fold over to neaten the hem if you don't have a machine with zig-zag stitch? Sorry if this egg-sucking!
    Is the edge of the dress flared, straight, pleated, ruffled, trimmed with lace etc?
     
  7. I have just had another look at the length of the dress, and as I would ideally like the length to be ever so slightly above the knee, I would probably have enough fabric left to make a nice skirt for the summer. I am feeling brave today! :)
     
  8. Hand hemming stitch - yes, Tack - no. The edge of the dress is straight, it is very much a straight up and down dress (if that makes sense)
     
  9. Tacking is just big in and out straight stitches to hold the fabric in place whilst you stitch. You could pin instead but tacked-and-pressed gives a more accurate result.
    If you reckon you can make a skirt out of the leavings, I can't see you having much trouble with a hem! But do get someone to help. It isn't just a matter of chopping the same amount off all the way round.
     
  10. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    Do pin up the hem as much as you think it will need and try it on, take a good look in the mirror from as many angles as possible. Or get someone to take photos from all angles, including the back view. It may not look as good when shorter, sometimes the design of a dress means that if youalter the length, it won't look right.
     
  11. I've just thought of something else: if the dress is a maxi and you're planning to make it above-the-knee, it may be that the way the dress falls will not be right once it's lost the weight of the extra fabric.
    If this happens, don't despair: you can buy tiny weights to stitch into the hem to make it fall straight and not billow up.
     
  12. Thanks for the tips! I think I am going to take on the challenge!
     
  13. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    There is a weighted cord you can use as well. Do be careful with hemming, nothing looks worse than stitches showing.
     
  14. One of the catalogue people who leave books in the door do clips which you put on the bottom of a hem to measure up from the bottom. Worth a try to help you measure properly - but you need to put them straight. I would use tailors' chalk as well.
     
  15. They are called Hem Clips!
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    It's a dangerous game to try and shorten a skirt or dress without a second person to make sure it's even all the way around. Don't be misled into thinking you just cut straight round or across - bear in mind that your shape (ie your bum) would make a straight hem rise up at the back if you don't allow for it.
    As the proud owner of a sewing Higher (or, rather, Higher Fabric and Fashion as it was in those far off days) I've ruined a few things I've attempted to shorten by a great deal.
    choose from:
    1. cut a fairly substantial chunk off the dress (so that it's no more than two or three inches too long) then stand on a coffee table while a friend pins it up
    or
    2. cut a fairly substantial chunk off the dress as before then get a proper chalk puffer hem marker and then stand on a coffee table while the friend marks off the length (scroll to bottom of this page to see what one of those is:
    http://sewing-online.com/Equipment/dress_forms/
    or
    3. get a dressmaker to do it properly
     
  17. Personally, I wouldn't shorten a maxi dress to the length you are thinking of. I don't think the proportions would work.
    But if I am shortening stuff, and have nobody around, I hand tack (not pin) up about half of the width of the dress/trousers to the length I reckon is right (using previous clothes as a guideline), then leave to hang.
    Then try on again.
    If I am happy with the length, I then measure and use tailor chalk as a guideline. Tack again. Leave to hang.
    Then try on again.
    Then sew. Sometimes with a sewing machine, often by hand (this is a skill I am glad to have, I can even hand sew a French seam so as to avoid fraying - this is a skill you however rarely need nowadays, but hey, I can do it and will cope when WW3 breaks out and if smoking ever comes back into fashion in a big way I can do that by hand too).
    It is much easier if you have someone to pin off for you - and even though I can sew and do most simple alterations myself (I am not a titch, but by German standards I am), I often bring my stuff to a dressmaker. It doesn't cost a fortune and saves me so much time and hassle.

     
  18. smoCking.
    I think smoking is no longer fashionable in the UK.
     
  19. Two more things come to mind - why can't you wear it as a maxi dress at 5'4. That is much taller than some of us. Also - I pay £6 to have trousers and sleeves taken up. If you can find a local tailor it wouldn't cost much at all. It would be a shame to buy a dress for a tenner, b.ugger around with it (following the super advice on here, of course) and then not be able to wear it.
     
  20. I am 5' 4 and I wear maxi dresses - as maxi dresses.
    We are not that tiny, OP [​IMG]
     

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