free alterations

so i think we all know i’m a wee bit crafty. not evil crafty like finger tips tapping together with an evil laugh, but project crafty like paper crafts and fabrics and things like that. i enjoy that creativity. but for the majority of my life, i’ve avoided sewing like the plague. see, my mom is REALLY good at it. she made her living sewing for a few years a long, LONG time ago (like before i was around). anyway, anytime any sewing needed to be done, i had my mom do it and i avoided learning. don’t get me wrong… i did take home ec. i did sew an apron. i have done some stitching projects in the past. i used to LOVE to do counted cross stitching. heck, as a single adult in Lynden i even tried to sew my own dress one time. but then i took it “home to mom” to fix. and she ripped out EVERY SINGLE STITCH i put into the dress. oops. guess sewing is NOT my forte.


many of you ALSO know that i like LOVE to shop. i do. it’s a weakness. and a sickness. but at least i’m a BARGAIN shopper. did you know you can sometimes get stuff for dirt cheap simply because there’s a hole in it? or a missing button? and did you know that if the hole is in the seam it’s a quick and easy fix? and buttons are usually pretty easy to replace (though not always). and did you also know that i KNOW that my body type looks BEST in straight skirts/dresses or a-lines (which are also quite straight)? and did you know that unless the “straight” skirt is SERIOUSLY SUCTIONED to your body, they’re not in style this year? but elastic waist-band skirts are. especially if they’re a bit “puffy.” you know what i mean… a more “full” skirt designed to make ridiculously skinny girls look like they have hips. and designed to make girls WITH hips look, well, far too “hip-py” (not “hippie”).


so when i was shopping at kohl’s last weekend, i found TWO skirts that i liked. they were most definitely too FULL but i figured a quick stitch down the seams to remove some excess fabric would make them quite a bit more flattering for my body. and they were on sale. they were $30 each. marked down 50% (so $15 each) and then i had a 15% off coupon making them $12.75 each. i decided it was worth a shot. so i brought home two skirts, did a loose stitch on one to see if my idea would work and decided it would.


then i consulted some experts. not my mom. (sorry, mom!). do you remember THIS blog post? yeah, that’s AMY on the far left and LEA next to her. among other things these women do well, they sew. and they recently helped my friend Julie with a dress-turned-into-a-skirt project (see Julie’s post HERE), so i KNEW they would have the answers to my questions (which were, basically, just making sure i was doing this whole thing right).


what i can’t show you are the photos i didn’t take…. the photos of the skirts in my home with the security tags still on them. the security tags that did NOT set off the alarm at kohls when i left. i also cannot show you the photos of the hole i ripped in one of the skirts when i was trying to use pliers to remove the security tag (they weren’t ink tags). and i cannot show you the photos i didn’t take of the sweetest kohl’s employee who INSISTED i get a new, non-holey skirt when i walked into a DIFFERENT kohls (where the security tags DID sound the alarm) to get the tags removed.


but i CAN show you my step-by-step sewing process. are you ready? here’s a BEFORE photo of my new grey & navy striped skirt:

the fit isn’t bad but it does add a little extra weight to my hips which i feel are a little wider PROPORTIONALLY to my upper body (which is smaller) and i usually try to NEVER add extra weight to my hips (other than carrying around a baby or alex).


so after consulting with my experts (Lea and Amy), i got to work. first, i IRONED the skirts to remove wrinkles and make it EASIER to pin it together. then i pulled out my manual (so i could thread a new bobbin – i really don’t use my machine much so i forget how to do all these things):

in case you ever need an expert, i’m AMAZING at picking up the bobbin thread. it’s getting that top thread threaded and the tension JUST RIGHT that is much harder for me.


so after MANY, MANY snarled threads and globs (and i DO MEAN “GLOBS”) of thread where it shouldn’t be, i took a break.


and i worked on a different crafty project that we will save for another day.


but because i’m not a quitter (just a break-taker), i returned to the scene of the crime and discovered where my top thread/tension issue was and after that, sewing was EASY. well, sort of.


see, i was advised by Lea to get as close to the elastic waistband as possible. so i did. but i kept stitching ON the waist band. which meant i was “pinching” the waistband together and then SEWING it that way which was making the WAIST smaller, not just the hips. i did this TWO TIMES. yep. two. it was VERY frustrating.


so then i took a break for a few days. again, i didn’t QUIT… i just took a break.


and today i returned to the task at hand. and AGAIN, i stitched the waistband together. grrrrrrr. so after that THIRD time, i FINALLY figured out what i was doing wrong and what i needed to do and from there, it was easy-peasy.


so to start, you need to turn your skirt(s) inside out and PIN along the seam where you want your stitches to be:

if you’re a perfectionist (which i used to be but was definitely NOT for this project), you would pull out a ruler and MEASURE to make sure you are stitching evenly down the length of the skirt. i, however, chose to eye-ball it. i embraced imperfection for this project (please don’t cringe, mom)!


after you stitch down the full length of the skirt, you’ll have something like this:

(see how the stitch up by the black elastic waistband starts at the edge and then cuts into the skirt so by the end i’m a good 1.5-2″ from the edge?)


and after you snip off the dangling threads and turn the skirt right side out, THIS is what you get:


or this:


dave thinks they look pretty much the same as they did before. and he’s right. they are “pretty much” the same. but here’s a side-by-side comparison of a before and after:

it’s subtle, but an extra 4-6 inches overall was “removed” from the seams of the skirt and i think it’s a more flattering fit now. do you agree? i’m just happy that i have two new skirts to wear and i’m proud of myself for “altering” them to look better on me.






by the way, if you’re REALLY confident in your abilities and you’re not a scaredy cat like me, after you finish sewing down the length of the skirt on both sides, you’ll take your scissors and CUT OFF THE EXCESS FABRIC

3 thoughts on “free alterations

  1. So proud of your perserverance Tam! Cut off that excess, I think you’ll be even happier with the alteration. :)

  2. Way to go, Tam! I used to always have trouble with knots and globs of thread, too. Blech. Worth the slogging through it, though! And yes, cut off the excess! It’s fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>