If you’re relatively new to sewing, making clothes from scratch can be a little daunting. While it’s a great idea to throw yourself into the deep end and have a go at some simple projects, another good place to start is clothes alterations.
Before you panic about ruining your favourite top, don’t worry, it’s much easier than you think! Take a look at these five simple clothes alterations and see if there’s anything that needs tweaking inside your wardrobe.
Clothes alteration tips to read before starting
Before you get going with your alterations, it might be useful to keep these things in mind…
Would it be best to wash your clothes before altering them?
It might be a wise idea to wash your clothes before altering them. If the item of clothing is new, it might change size or fit in the first couple of washes.
You don’t want to shorten some trousers only to realise that they would have shrunk slightly in the wash anyway (and that now they are too short)! Bung your item in the wash and see how it fits you after the first spin – then make any necessary alterations.
Start with clothes you care less about
If you’re new to clothes alteration projects, it’s safer to start out with items that are old or you’re not as bothered about if something goes wrong. An overly ambitious alteration project plus one of your favourite dresses doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven!
Start with something that has been lurking in your wardrobe for some time and that you would start wearing again with a minor easy tweak or two.
Simple clothes alterations
Now for some quick and easy clothes alterations for you to get started on…
Adding or switching buttons
Do you have an item of clothing that has lost a button? Sewing on a button could be one of the easiest home alterations out there. Just head to your local sewing shop to find a lookalike replacement. Or if you’re going for a mismatched look, find any button that you think would complement your piece.
The great thing about sewing on a replacement button is there will always be a button hole – you don’t need to make one yourself. If you’ve attempted this before, you’ll know this can be a little tricky and time-consuming! You can usually see where the old button has fallen off on your garment, so match up the new one and sew it on with a few stitches of some quality thread.
Do you have a pair of jeans that are just too long for you to wear? Have a go at taking them up. You can do this with a sewing machine or by hand (although this will take a little longer). You’ll just need to try on your jeans and pin the desired length of your jeans. You can then cut off the existing hem of your jeans, roll the raw edge up to your pins, and sew a new hem.
Perhaps you have a top or dress with sleeves that are too long? Try shortening them! This is even easier than hemming jeans, as a standard cotton top is thinner than jean material. Again, you’ll need to try on your top and measure how long you want your sleeves to be. Cut your sleeves to give you enough material to create a new hem, but not so much that it will be too bulky.
Changing a neckline
Changing a neckline on a top, jumper, or dress may sound challenging, but you don’t even need a needle and thread for this one. To add a slightly more casual, rugged look to a garment, create a raw neckline by cutting around the existing one. It won’t be hemmed, so it could fray after a few washes and wears — but that’s what the distressed look is all about!
Straps are rarely the perfect length for us, but they are usually simple to alter. Our top tip is to cut them at the back (at the end of the length of strap and as close to where they are attached to the garment as possible). Cut to your desired length before sewing back onto the garment in exactly the same place.
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