Sunday, 26 July 2015

Quick DIY: Altering an A-line skirt

Vintage Marks and Spencer skirt via Ebay
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a few of the second hand items I'd bought from Ebay over the last month, including a beautiful vintage A-line skirt from Marks and Spencer (back when they still produced in the UK, and vanity sizing wasn't yet a thing - this would now probably be more like a 12-14!). I knew when I bought it that it would probably need taking in slightly, but because it's such a simple shape it's incredibly easy to do, even if you have minimal sewing experience or have never sewn before. Read on for a great example of how a few basic sewing tricks help you easily tailor your clothes, and stop you being put off buying second hand items that aren't a perfect fit in the future.
1. First, measure how much you need to take the skirt in by.
Measure the skirt all the way round the waistband, and then measure your own waist. The difference is how much fabric you will need to remove. For example, if the waist of the skirt is 35 inches and your waist is 30 inches, you will need to remove 5 inches of fabric in total.

2. Lay out your skirt on a flat surface and fold on the place where you want to take the skirt in.
In this example, I want to create a seam in the middle of the elasticated waist, as this is the most symmetrical place to put it, so I have folded the elasticated waistband in half.

3. Mark how much you need to remove with a pin, and follow this all the way down the edge.
Remember to halve the measurement, because you have folded the skirt in half. Here, I need to take off 3 inches in total, so I have measured 1.5 inches from the edge and then put my pin in. REMEMBER TO TRY ON YOUR SKIRT after you've pinned it to make sure you have the right measurement.

4. Find some matching thread and start to sew down the line you have marked with your pins.
It's a good idea to use the reverse function on your machine to sew back and forth multiple times along the waistband, as this is where the seam will experience the most pressure.

5. Change the function on the sewing machine to a zig zag, and follow along next to the straight line you have just sewn.
This will create a sort of 'overlocking' on your seam so that it doesn't fray. If you like, you can sew another straight line next to the zig zag, to ensure no threads pop out.

6. TRY ON YOUR SKIRT AGAIN to make doubly sure it fits, before cutting off the excess fabric. 

In this example, I didn't quite sew a straight line and had to re-do it so that the band sat properly on my waist. Remember - you can always cut off more, but you can't add back on!

7. Grab a needle and thread, and hand-sew over the new seam on your waistband so that the edge is covered and it lies flat.
This will make the ugly edge look much nicer and also ensure that it won't rub your skin when you wear it.

8. Finally, give your skirt an iron and press the new seam flat. 

That's it! You're done. This technique can be applied to anything with a basic shape and straight seam - skirts are the easiest, but you can also take in dresses, tops and shirts in the same way.

*Top tip* - always remember to try on your item multiple times throughout the process. This will ensure a perfect fit and save you time in the long run in case you make a mistake and have to go back and re-do it.

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