Tuesday, June 26, 2012

sewing for the girls: altering blouses


knit shirts. knit shirts. knit shirts.

such is the life of the big boobed woman. if you want to wear a blouse, it’s big and baggy—and totally unflattering--to fit the ladies.

want to wear a fitted button up blouse and skirt and be all saucy secretary?

enter: the gap-age.

and no, that’s not a hipster way of refering to The Gap.


images via kaboodle and more.com

like an unreachable dream—the fitted—and fittING—button down.
no more, my friends.

just like earlier, we reference what not to wear—dress your largest part, then tailor the rest to fit. with that in mind i headed out to the thrift shop and found this little number:


a vintage blouse with all the school teacher sass you need tied up in a bow around your neck (literally)


but it’s kind of sad looking, no? it fits and buttons across my bust, but the rest???? :(

we’re going to fix that.

first things first: we say goodbye to the shoulder pads.


the first thing we’re going to alter is the arms and underarm area.

i decided to make it 3/4 length sleeves, so i marked the new length and hacked off the rest.


then we need to trim up the underarm and sleeve bagginess.
all i did was turn it inside out and run a new seam about an inch inside the existing seam.


i started about halfway down the bodice, gradually tapering in and going under the armpit and down the sleeve in one go.

that helped tremendously, but we still need to fit the bodice and back of the shirt more. what we’re doing is marking and creating darts on the shirt where there were none.

because this is a button-down, you can’t put it on inside out to mark where the darts should be. so here’s how to do it:

put the shirt on and mark and pin two front darts. just pinch the fabric under your bust until it looks good. try and keep them even up and down, and pinch an even amount of fabric in each.


pay attention to the fit of the entire shirt—you still need breathing room and ease so as not to create gapage in the front placket.


here are my pinned darts. three pins: the top, center and bottom.

do the same to the back of the shirt. this will require one of three things: major flexibility, a helper, or a dress form (which is what i used)


again keeping the darts level and even.


once you have the darts all pinned, check the side seam to make sure it’s still straight. that’s a good gauge to make sure you’re not pulling too much from either the front or the back.


once everything is pinned and checked and you’re happy with the fit it’s time to transfer your markings to the inside of the blouse.

inside the shirt you have the fabric pinched together where you pinned it.


use a fabric marker to make an “x” across the fold of fabric on the reverse of the center pin.


then straighten out and mark the top and bottom points of your dart with the fabric marker.


now you can unpin your shirt and you’ll have marks on the inside for your darts.


all you have to do is match your center marks up again, right sides together this time, and sew in your dart—going from top mark, tapering out to your center mark, and down to the bottom mark.


my darts (and your darts) may not look completely even (with the widest part in the center of the length of stitching) but that’s okay. it’s because we’re compensating for a large bust.

press your dart well, ironing the excess towards the center of the garment.

and that’s it! try it on and admire your handiwork!

i sewed the original cuffs of my shirt back on the sleeve at it’s new 3/4 length. add in a black pencil skirt and some red heels and BAM!


hellooooooo awkwardly posed secretary lady!

okay, so i can’t pose. and i cropped off my funky face for both of our benefits.


you’ll notice that i do have some pulling in some of these photos. that’s because besides being blessed overmuch in the top part, i’m still a nursing momma…so these pics were taken right before elliot had lunch and my magical growing boobers were larger than normal.



but the overall fit is tons better than where it started, and i’m happy with it.


and this last photo…well, it’s clearly not something meant to be posted on the internet.

BUT. it shows how well the top still fits without gapping in the front placket. so, look at the boob area, and not at my face. (and file that under “Sentences I Never Thought I’d Say”)


yes, my husband took this picture. and yes, i was striking a pose. and if this is what i look like when i’m flirting with him it’s a wonder he married me.

so let’s wipe that last image from your mind. this should be your takeaway from this post:


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