Friday, May 10, 2013

Tank Top Alteration

This entire process has not gone as I had hoped. As far as the alterations are concerned, they went quite well. The issue lies in the pictures I took to show before and after...

First, let me disclose the fact that I have not a single clue as to what I am doing when it comes to sewing. Am I able to alter articles of clothing for myself? Yes. Am I able to deconstruct and rebuild clothing for myself? Yes. Is it perfect? No. Do I understand patterns? Absolutely not. Do I understand how to go about sharing the steps to create something new from something old when it comes to needle and thread? It turns out this is also a big whopping NO. 

My pictures did not turn out as well as I had hoped, teaching me to take more time during the process. For this, I would like to apologize. My goal was to get my shirt done in time to post this week as promised, but in my haste I allowed my photos to suffer. What I will be showing today is not my best work in photography. Please bear with me, as this entire blog process is still new to me and I am still learning more than I can express. 

Disclosure #2: I am 100% self taught in sewing, unless you count my 6 week class of Home Economics in high school from 13 years ago. My favorite stitch I learned? Slip stitch. Why? I feel I have the most control over my fabric, if I want a gathered look this is the stitch to use, and it is the most user friendly for hiding mistakes :)

Disclosure #3: I love the changes I made to my garment. I know I will wear it more often. I also know that I have created opportunities for layering this tank with more of my wardrobe than prior to the alterations. And, I am elated at the creative outlet this top has allowed me. 

So, please judge not -- if you can help it :) Here are the much anticipated pictures:
In the Before: The top rested directly
under my arm pit rubbing against it
uncomfortably, sat high on my chest
and hips preventing the layered look
I prefer, and this placement created a
boxy silhouette: not very flattering.
In the After: The tank sits lower
allowing for the shirt
 underneath to
become prevalent within the outfit, 

the arm pit is free from uncomfortable
and the garment sits lower on
the hips creating 
the draped look I desire. 

How did I make these changes? 
I started with the straps: The straps were adjustable and set at their longest. If you look closely at the straps of your own tank, you will see there is extra length wrapped around the hardware that makes the tank adjustable. 

  1. I simply used a seam ripper to remove the stitches from the hardware that adjusts, and then cut near the stationary hardware as near the seam that attaches the strap to the garment as possible. The reason I did not use the seam ripper on the stationary hardware is because on this particular tank the stitch that held this hardware in place was the same as the collar hem -- I didn't want to make more work for myself or ruin the part of the top I wished to save. 
  2. Then I connected the two lengths of the straps together, binding them with thread using a sewing needle. There is no particular stitch I used here. All I did was fasten the two pieces together, then bind the edges to hide that they were once two pieces. My goal here was to make it look seamless from a distance. I am not trying to win awards here.
  3. After I finished the first strap, I laid the two next to each other, lining up the points where the straps meet the garment and measured the difference. Just in stealing material from the adjustable hardware I gained almost 1 1/2" of length, which is quite significant :)   
  4. Last, I repeated steps 1-3 on the other strap...

 Then I moved to the under arm: While I gained the length in the straps, the fact that the under arm area rubbed along my armpit for so long had negatively affected the color of the fabric. Now I want to remove that material. This will serve two purposes: 1) the discoloration will no longer be visible, and 2) I will be able to cinch the fabric in an effort to elongate the lines and create a better silhouette. 

  1. The main factor in deciding how much fabric to remove really depended on where the discoloration ended. I traced out a rough triangle, attempting to make the front and back even on either side of the side seam. Then I tried it on to ensure I would be happy with where the new hem would lay on me. 
  2. Once satisfied with the new line, I cut along my pen marks, being careful to keep the integrity of the existing strap attachment to the hem, ensuring the allowance of fabric to tuck back into the new hem and follow along the original line of the strap, both front and back sides.
  3. Before sewing the new hem, I lined up the left arm with the right (folding garment in half with the center front on the right and the center back on the left), pinning along the relevant seams to ensure as close to perfect line up as possible. Then I traced along the edges of the right arm I just cut onto the left arm hole. 
  4. Next, I rolled the fresh cut line, doubling it over on itself to create a new hemline, and then pinned it in place. Using a variation of the slip stitch -- the inside is reminiscent of the slip stitch, though on the outside the stitch is visible, if looked upon up close (I don't know if this is an official stitch and if so, I'm not sure what it's called) -- I finished the hem, then repeated with the other side.
Now, I have learned not to be a perfectionist in my sewing. And, if you take it upon yourself to look closely at the clothing offered in stores, you will see there are not perfect either. I care how it fits and how the garment looks from a distance. Again, I am not trying to win any awards or sell my clothing, and I am not a seamstress.

Here is what I have learned from this experience that I will be sure to implement in my next Re-imagined clothing post: 

  1. Have The Rustic Knight take pictures for me! I will just have to plan better to be certain I get my Before pictures taken while he is home. Using the mirror with a flash is a horrible idea! It ruins the coloration and distinction between the garments. This will save me much time in photo adjusting...And I won't have weirdly cut off arms :) 
  2. Take the pictures outside for the sake of utilizing the wonderful sunlight! That way flashes are not needed, and a truer representation of color will follow. Not to mention, prettier backgrounds. 
I hope you will be eager to see my next project and not be turned off by the roughness of this post. At least I can only go up from here, LOL! :)

Thank you for hanging in there with me. I hope I have inspired you to take another look at that article of clothing that you love, but also hate. If you never wear it because there is something just not right about it, but you can't bring yourself to throw it out because there is something you just love about it, take a cue from me and change it! 

Worst case scenario: you throw it away! But that's OK!  You aren't wearing it now and you tried something new. Plus, what if you are successful? You have a beautiful garment that you now wear, and you get to share your creativity with others :)

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