Wardrobe Adjustments

Part of why I started the virtual window shopping posts is that I’m not buying a lot of clothing right now.   But I have been changing my wardrobe: I’ve been adjusting it.  Or perhaps I should say altering it.

See, I had a pair of pants that had sprouted “wear holes” at the top of the side seam pockets.  Not a huge problem, but I’d put off wearing them, or if I did wear them, I’d feel self-conscious.  But they’re perfectly good otherwise and I felt silly for buying new ones.

So I got out the sewing kit and made repairs.  It’s a small thing, but I felt much better wearing the pants I’d repaired.  Partly because the holes were gone, yes, but also because I’d fixed them.

Then I started thinking about the others….

  • A pair of pants that had been torn at the crotch seam.
  • Another pair with holes on the side seams near the pockets.
  • Two beautiful tweedy knit cardigans that had each lost the second button from the bottom.
  • A gray French terry jacket that  fit great, but the brass buttons just seemed to clash with the gray.  (To me, at least.  Drove me nuts.)  So I avoided (or felt self-conscious) wearing it.
  • A white French terry jacket I didn’t wear because it was bit too big and people mistook me for a pharmacist when I wore it.
  • A workout shirt I bought on sale with 3/4 banded-bottom sleeves that pulled at my elbow when I lifted weights.

Now, yes, I accept that not all of my clothing is appropriate at once.  The sundresses get rotated to the guest room closet each October, for example, because I’m not going to wear them til it’s warm again.   But these are clothes I’d like to wear, but I feel too self-conscious to wear.

So I’ve been making a few more changes.

  • I took the gray jacket over to Joanne Fabrics and found black buttons that I love and fit the existing buttonholes of the cardigan.  I spent an hour cutting off the old brass buttons and sewing on new black ones.
  • I picked up brown RIT dye at Michael’s and dyed the white jacket.   It’s now a coppery brown and, due to the hot water used in the dyeing process, shrunk about a size.  It now fits great.
  • I’d saved one of the knit cardigans’ lost buttons, so I sewed it back on.
  • The other had a spare inside it, which I sewed on.

I still have pants to fix and the sleeves to shorten.   I’ve also had my “Oops!” moments.  The coppery brown isn’t as dark as I’d like, though the man of the house loves it, so that jacket may be dyed darker or become his.   Unbuttoning one of the knit cardigans on Monday I had 2 more buttons pop off  (argh!) so I’ll probably be re-sewing them all.  Still, I am getting more comfortable making minor changes and increasing my confidence.   Yes, I can go to an alterations service if something beyond my ability is required — but it’s nice to be able to do it myself, too.

How I’m doing it:  I have a well-lit, comfy place to work on these items (a corner of the couch) complete with a (coffee) table if need be.  I have a basic variety of different-colored threads, a packet of hand sewing needles, and pins. Plus both a Joanne’s and a Michael’s within easy driving distance.

14 thoughts on “Wardrobe Adjustments

  1. When sewing buttons on cardigans, you can reinforce them by sewing on a smaller button with matching holes on the back side at the same time (with the fabric sandwiched in between the two buttons). I do this often for sweaters and jackets when I replace the buttons.

  2. You are so good! I have a growing pile of clothes in the corner of my bedroom that need repairs and alterations. Most are workout tops that are too big in the bust when I buy them and need a tiny tuck under the armpit (yeah, I know that the FA credo is to buy things that fit, but because I’m fat, but flat chested (more of a Rack of Shame rather than a Rack of Doom) anything that goes around my impressive hips will be too large in the chest). There are also a few pants that need hemming or have popped buttons. For “good” clothes (that is, anything that cost $$$) I take it to a tailor, but anything that will get worn walking the dog or to the gym I try to do myself. I’m just not very motivated, but perhaps I just need a new pair of reading glasses to kick start the process.

    You’ve piqued my interest with the dye thing though. Did you do it in a washing machine? I have a front loader, so I don’t think that works, but I have several things I love the fit, but that just don’t fit in with anything else I own (worse, I tend to wear them anyway and always look rather like I got dressed in the dark).

      • Suh-weet, thanks! I’m gonna try doing some black t-shirts I have first. I’m a little OCD in the kitchen and feel the need to bleach everything in sight after I’ve cooked any sort of meat, so nearly every piece of black clothing I own has one or two little reddish dots on the front from dripping bleach water on them. If I could fix those I could double my wardrobe!

  3. I always have a mending pile! :-) It’s great to be able to wear slightly worn things again, just a change of buttons or a hem taken up or down can make all the difference. I can’t do really complicated stuff, but I’m sure I’ve saved a fortune over the years just by being able to hem and patch and dye stuff.

    You can get fabric dyes that are designed for front loading machines. Once in a while I do a dye load for black clothes that have become a bit faded, it makes them look like new again.

    • That’s a good idea. My pants are mostly from Making it Big, which garment-dyes much of their stuff, and it fades over time. I’ve been careful to wash new black stuff (which comes with a warning to only wash with like colors for a while) with older black stuff to help refresh it, but outright dyeing it would help too.

  4. Hey, can I bring over some of my clothes for altering?! :D Man, I wish I had time to get back into sewing. There are so many things I either own or try on in stores that are *almost* perfect, but would be easily made entirely perfect with a (seemingly) simple change… Maybe if I stopped reading blogs I’d have time for sewing. rofl

    Like that’s going to happen.

  5. I wish I had that ‘giddy yup’ you had to alter and fix your own clothes! I’m too lazy and like many others have a growing pile of stuff that needs to be fixed. I love what you did to that white jacket!

  6. Love it! I’ve been getting into altering things, too. I keep buying saucy t-shirts that don’t fit (the girly ones don’t make it up to my size, so I get men’s 2x or 3x, but then they fit all weird), so I took a class to learn how to make them into girly shaped shirts. So excited! And so excited that you are finding ways to do the same things!

  7. Ooh, I’ve been on a clothes mending/altering spree too. We moved apartments at the beginning of September and the sewing area is right next to my desk at the new place. So I’ll be sitting at my computer and I’ll glance over and think, “Hmmmm…. I can has clothes?” I used to be really bad about setting stuff aside to hem or mend and never doing it, but now I’ve gotten through 2 years of pants backlog. (The fact that I really need the pants is also great motivation.)

  8. I do the double-button trick that Jenny described when I need to fix a jacket or sweater. It does help the repairs last longer. Or, you can buy some felt or broadcloth off the remnants table in the same color as the jacket, cut off a little square, and use that on the back.

    Now, if I were only handy enough to fix a busted zipper.

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