I started to learn to do proper textile stuff last year. And only now I’m finally starting to grasp – in tiniest baby steps – the basics of garment construction and textile properties. So this is a section of ‘look what I did to make this garment work better for me’ or ‘…to prolong its lifespan’. This post is a double feature of a skirt I had to adjust due to reality of bodies (ehm, too tight waist) and a little blouse/undershirt that had been dangerously worn out, i.e. more wears could push it over the edge of unfixable.
Careful readers of this blog know my ambiguous relationship with the WAG set all to well. It was an impulse buy last November in South Africa (see the money report here) and it has taken 10 months to finally tame it. Apart from loud print and attention-seeking (at least in places overtaken by the casual revolution) cut, the skirt was held above the natural waistline by a tight rubber band… which worked well when trying it on and walking upright, but became impossibly tight when sitting for a while or after a meal.
The original waist with rubber holding together the back:
So in consultation with my sewing guru Carmen at Opció Taller,
we decided she suggested and I trusted her expertise to take out the rubber and then see if the waist needed any taking in afterwards. It was pick-pick-pick time to unravel all the seams that contained the waistband…
We discovered that the un-scrunched waistline was a bit too wide, and – (a) to avoid redoing the whole piece, (b) because the patterned fabric is very generous with these kind of shortcuts, and (c) because I was eager to wear this skirt already (before the season ends) – opted for just making two tucks in the back part of the waistband, in line with the original tucks of the skirt part. You can see them if you squint a bit:
I still have to go over the opened part with a zigzag stitch, but the skirt has been in happy rotation ever since I fixed the waist. The new waist is not pushing on of my ribs or any vital organs and it’s lower, leading to an unexpected thing: I am baring my midriff when wearing the whole set now. If before I had the ‘dress effect’, now it’s ‘look, my tummy’ effect. I’m hoping to be channeling some of this Sartorialist attitude, although some Swap bloopers showed that it can also be quite ‘unflattering’. Oh, well, I just keep telling the ‘you’re fat’ monsters off with ‘I’ll eat you too’… As now I can eat all I want while wearing this skirt! And it has pockets.
There is always the ‘risk’ that I would lose weight or gain even more, but having done this fix, I know that there are options to both take it in more or let it out. So this skirt is here to stay, #30wears and counting.
The lace undershirt
The jury is still out on if this is a proper garment or a replica of an undergarment from 100 years ago… I got it in 2012 from my mom who has a penchant for little white blouses, and have been wearing it as a modesty garment in winter (who is the genius that keeps producing heavy jersey dresses with deep decolletages?) and as the lightest possible blouse during Barcelona summers. The fabric composition tag has been cut off long ago, but it has a very cotton-y feel and is suboptimal as a winter undergarment because of that as the sweat just stays there and makes me cold. Despite that, this little garment has a solid place in my wardrobe fulfilling a double function, and the possibility to wear the purple jersey dress with dignity hinges on it.
So imagine my horror when sometime this spring I discovered that the right armpit was falling apart, and I couldn’t think of a solid solution to the problem, as just stitching it over would not stop the tearing:
My ideas revolved around patching it on the inside and doing a lace applique on top but the garment is so light that anything I could imagine felt too much and closer to destroying it than resuscitating… Enter Carmen, my fairy godmother of sewing at Opció Taller! Yes, all the fix series are dedicated to her because I wouldn’t have achieved this level of satisfaction without her guidance. I would have either fucked it up on my own or given it to the fast sewing shop ladies who don’t necessarily care about my stuff . After a session of brainstorming about lace patches, their placement and possibilities to dye lace in black tea to get the right shade of this weird off-white, Carmen found just the right thing in one of her magical notions boxes: stand alone lace flowers in exactly the shade I needed.
Then it was my first contact with interfacing fabric (to secure the hole before darning over it), many little stitches and ta-dah! It’s now a cute demure detail nobody will really notice, the blouse has been saved and I have learnt a couple of new tricks. A complete win.
And the whole outfit! You cannot see either of the interventions, but I know that they are there, and having been able to make both these garments wearable again fills me with pride and satisfaction.
Have you done any life-giving fixes recently? Made any garments? Or is there something you would like to fix and don’t know how to?