Domestic Bliss Squared · Apr 28, 2014

Clothing Alteration 101: Taking in the Sides

So I (Jessica) found this vintage red bodycon dress at the thrift store. I'm pretty sure this thing hails from about 1995, which is super awesome. Radical? Phat? What was the appropriate slang term for 1995, anyone remember? Anyways, I was buggin' when I found it. Because it, like, totally reminded me of this dress:
Total score! Or like, you know...whatever. Anyways, this dress was pretty radical not just because it looks a lot like Cher's red dress from the party scene in Clueless (where Cher gets left on the side of the road by the cad Elton, and robbed), but also because even though it's short it has a higher neckline and sleeves. Basically, if you're doing a short short dress, the more covered up you are on top, the less *ahem* inappropriate you look. Also, the top and skirt fit me perfectly, dahling. Like they were made for me. But the waist had this problem:

Not so flattering! I'm used to this problem, I have a very narrow waist in comparison to my hips and ribcage. I'm one of those lucky women whose jeans always gap in the back (yay!). I frequently have things fit everywhere but bag weirdly at the waist.

But I bought the dress anyways! Because altering a dress, or a t-shirt for that matter, to fit you better in the waist is one of the simplest alterations you can do. Since I learned to sew almost every item I own or buy has been altered in some way. Once you experience your clothes fitting you properly, there's just no going back.

So today I'm going to run you through Clothing Alteration 101: Taking in the Sides.

Begin by trying on your dress and pulling out the extra fabric on either side or your waist. This will give you a rough estimate of how much needs to be taken in. This dress needed to be taken in about 1 1/2 inches on each side, but not at all on the bust or hips:

Next, turn your dress inside out and put it back on. Then, (preferably having someone help you, it's SO much easier!) use a marker to mark where you'll need to sew along each side seam:

Take your dress off, and check to make sure that your marks are even. If they are, sew along your marker lines (I used a zig zag stitch and jersey needle because this dress is cotton jersey), then try your dress on again to make sure you got it perfect:

Once you're sure you got it just right, cut off the excess fabric and you're good to go!

Doesn't that look so much better? Now I feel like a total Betty! It fits me perfectly instead of making me look like I'm wearing a half empty sausage casing. Way more flattering. Now it's all that and a bag of chips, baby!

So after you get past the ridiculous 90's slang, I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial. I wanted to show you all that you don't have to pass up great finds just because of something that is this simple to fix!

So next Monday I'm going to show you all how I styled this super fly red dress seven different ways. Because what's the fun of buying a dress like this if I can't play dress up, Cher Horowitz style? And in the meantime you can check out more of our super awesome sewing projects here!


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