Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Making Clothes Smaller: Denim Jacket

I am an amateur seamstress - let me stress that now! - but I get by alright. Over the past few months I have sewn a lot more for myself than I have in the past, due to weight loss. I have made some clothes from scratch, drafting the patterns based on my body measurements or tracing around a top that I already own and like. I have also done a bit of simple alterations in jeans or tops by sewing them smaller or adding a bit of elastic at the back. Sometimes all it takes to make a huge difference in an item of clothing is to reduce it by 1/2 an inch or so.

But some of my clothes were too tricky to alter, or I didn't really like them enough to bother with. One of the saddest losses in my wardrobe was my denim jacket. I loved it! The cut was very feminine without losing the rough-and-tumble feel of a denim jacket and it was stretchy which meant I could raise my hands above my head without cutting off circulation to my arms. It was great! But by now it was ridiculously baggy and it would flap around me sadly, no feminine lines showing at all.

I bought a new jacket on eBay, but buying second hand clothes is hit or miss and for me it was a miss. I liked the style in theory (military-esque), but it was more like a shirt than a jacket and it just isn't robust enough for me to want to wear regularly.

Yesterday, inspiration struck! My too-big jacket was in my donation pile anyway, so why don't I try to alter it and make it smaller? No harm done if it doesn't work out, and if it does, SCORE!

Here's how it worked out....





This is the jacket before alteration. The arms are super baggy, the body of the jacket is too big, and the shoulders droop over my shoulders and down into my arms. The sleeves are too long (although that's not always a bad thing in a coat or jacket) and the neckline is wide.


Midway through alteration. I removed both sleeves, and unpicked the side seams. It was essentially only held together at the shoulders.

I sewed the side seam smaller by about an inch, following the curves of the original seam. I tried to add the sleeve back into the now-smaller arm hole, but hilarity resulted:


Look how puffy that sleeve cap is! And it still droops off my actual shoulder and into my arm. It was not a good look.

I had to take a break and think what to do. How was I going to raise the shoulders of the jacket to actually sit on my shoulders when worn? Should I bring another seam in, or just hack away some fabric?

With slight trepidation, I cut away a bit of the top shoulder of the jacket in order to raise the sleeves. After unpicking more stitches, and re-doing some shoddy sewing a few times, I think I ended up with a good(ish) fit:






Sadly, one sleeve is a bit too puffy at the shoulder. I am not 100% happy with it, and might go back another day to fix that if I can, but for now, it's wearable! It fits closer to my frame, the sleeves aren't so baggy, and I have curves again! If you look closely, I also had to add two bust darts on either side of the jacket, starting at the underarms. They aren't my best darts either, but I was literally sewing by the seat of my pants and making it up as I went along!

Altering a jacket is a tricky process, but I'm glad that I gave it a try. I learned a few techniques and got a bit braver. I may just dig through my too-big clothes donation pile and try to reduce another item of clothing! It was pretty fun.