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:


Pin It!


  1. so I definitely don't have the "girls" problem that you have, maybe in the opposite direction (hah) but everytime a new post comes up in my reader I laugh. you are so funny! And these really are great tutorials and info!

    1. hehe :) glad you're still finding amusement. thanks!

  2. Genius! I never could figure out how to mark darts without turning the garment inside out. Granted, I never looked for a solution before either. I'm of the sort that generally thinks I should be able to figure out anything myself, AND that if I can't, then it simply cannot be done. I might need to rethink that position...

    1. no, no...i think that position is perfectly legitimate. if i can't think of a way to do it, then CLEARLY it is impossible.
      makes perfect sense to me.

  3. Love this post...unfortuntaly I will never get to use your awesome advice...I was designed to have the shape of a 14 year old boy...serioulsy, my body wouldn't know what to do with a dart.

    But like I said, love this post!

    1. hehehe...well we all have our challenges. i'm pretty good at fitting 14 year old boy shapes, too...rectangles are easy ;)

  4. thanks! I've
    got boobs and junk in the trunk. I think this will help both sides.

    1. glad to help! although i'm clueless about the junk in the trunk part...i was not blessed in that way, haha!

  5. Thank you so much for the big boob tips! I loved the funny first part of this post too :)

  6. such is the life of the big boobed Cheap Womens Tops

  7. I like your "quick fix" idea! I'm also overly blessed, and it's tough finding nice things to fit the girls. (I'm a 38F) So, I think I'm going to get out the custom made duck tape over t-shirt form of mine (cut of up back, stuffed, and taped again for a cheap and adjustable true form) and try this out. I'm pretty sure that solids would be the best choice, or small randem patterns would both be the easiest to disguise customizing on. I like the effect, and I'm guessing with a little more practice, this'll be easier than your first good bra fitting. (or finding for that matter)

  8. 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.

  9. Although my problem is in the opposite direction, this post was very helpful to make a too big shirt, fit properly. Thanks so much! ... Any advice on taking a favorite button down that's a little too small to make it fit?

    1. glad you found this helpful!
      as far as letting out a button down...that's pretty tough. depending on what the front looks like you could possibly move the buttons over a smidge and gain a little there. other than that i don't think there's much you can do. sorry :(


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