About eight months after buying my first sewing machine, I have entered into the world of making alterations to my existing clothing. For some reason, that has always seemed a little more scary than just making something from scratch, probably because if I make a mistake it’ll feel like I have ruined everything (yup you guessed it, I’m another perfectionist who is deathly afraid of mistakes and failure). I haven’t documented the journey for my other creations so far but I’ll sum it up in another blog post.
In this one, we’re going to look at a simple alteration I did for a crop top I got at Hollister for probably $3 when it was on mega clearance last summer. I purchased a size small even though it gaped at the top, because the extra-small was way too tight and would probably cause indigestion. I normally don’t purchase ill-fitting clothes, but I also was not gonna say no to a $3 cute top made with a pretty hefty fabric. I can’t remember the original price, but somebody on Poshmark says it was $42.
As you can tell, I didn’t take any photos while I was actually making the alteration. The white dots are where the other 3 buttons are on the original top. There are also two bust seams. After some measurements, I decided I needed to take in about an inch at the very top, but it would need to remain the same at the bottom because it already fit me correctly.
Doing this alteration just opened my eyes to fast fashion garment construction and how sometimes they do not make any sense. The buttons were sewn through the ends of the left and right front panels. While they were decorative, it turns out they were sewn through closed buttonholes?
Those buttonholes saved me. Originally I thought I had to remove fabric from the left and right sides of the panel, bring it in and reattach. However, seeing that I had existing buttonholes, I decided to just move the button locations so I can tighten the top without having to bring out my sewing machine.
I first removed all five buttons and then I used my seam ripper to open up the buttonholes. Then I ripped the seam joining the left and right panels. Once that was done, I put on the top like I would a jacket, and brought in the fabric from both sides until they were tight enough to fit my bust.
Because there are existing bust seams on both sides, if I only moved one side of the fabric, the seams would not sit correctly on my body. But if I brought both sides in on an angle and have more of a mild sweetheart neckline instead of a square neckline, it would work just fine. What this meant was that my new button locations have to fall on a slant. Luckily for me, I enjoy the occasional asymmetry!
I used pins to mark the new locations for the buttons. I decided three buttons were more than enough to introduce some light scandal but still keeping it PG-13. I also took inspiration for the good number of cropped cardigans I have seen on influencers lately.
I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I watched With Wendy on YouTube (one of the people who inspired me to sew!)’s recorded livestream of her making tapestry to fundraise for COVID-19 relief efforts while doing this and the entire alteration took no more than an hour.
Soon, I might tackle a more hefty project and turn an existing piece of clothing into something new entirely. I’ve kept some pieces safe from my closet purge last year just so I can try doing a “flip.” Until next time!