Friday, August 20, 2010

Womanly Clothing, Part I

This is not a post in which I will rant about the state of women's clothing "fashion," but in which I will relate how I took action yesterday, for $3.39 and a couple hours.

The local Goodwill is the source of most of my clothing which I don't sew myself. Even with a good selection, it's not always easy to find things that will fit me- and lately I've taken to altering clothes to fit my particular shape.

I needed a plain white button-down blouse for summertime- without superfluous and useless pockets smack-dab in the middle, a constricting and wrinkly-tight bodice, or indecent neckline- to wear with skirts or beneath jumpers, and saved myself some time by not looking for something I knew I'd never find. Blouses are not difficult to sew, but between collars and buttonholing, they can take a while. I purchased a very generic long-sleeved white cotton dress shirt, and transformed it by hand into a modest, charming, and feminine summer blouse.
Figure 1. In which is shown the very generic long-sleeved white cotton dress shirt before alteration. Well, slightly after; the cuff is obviously removed. It was stuck back together to show its original aspect.Figure 2. In which the sleeve is removed from the bodice using a seam-ripper or manicure scissors, and the cuff is cut off carefully as close to its edge as possible.Figure 3. In which the seam down the sleeve is undone, and the material spread open.Figure 4. In which the material is ironed to ensure accurate measurements in Figure 5 (see Fig. 5).Figure 5. In which a desirable sleeve pattern is pinned to the old sleeve, taking note of the bias.Figure 6. Which shows the resulting pieces cut from the old sleeves.Figure 7. In which the scraps are displayed, from which shall be cut two sleeve bands, one of which is shown at bottom. The remnants may be used to cover buttons if desired. The cuffs are useless to this project, being the one part of the buffalo we do not end up using. They may be saved for the occasions in which one feels the urge to tear off one's shirt-cuffs and project them at an offender.Figure 8. In which a running-stitch is put at the top and bottom of the sleeve.Figure 9. In which the bottom of the sleeve is gathered to the length of the sleeveband and pinned accordingly.Figure 10. Which shows the sleeveband sewn firmly to the gathered sleeve.Figure 11. In which the bottom edge of the sleeveband is turned under and ironed.Figure 12. In which the ironed edge of the sleeveband is turned up and fastened with a whip-stitch, taking care to remain invisible to the right side of the garment.Figure 13. In which the two sides of the sleeve are sewn together. (N.B.- the seam at far right is the running-stitch from Fig. 8.)Figure 14. In which the sleeve is gathered, pinned to the armhole of the bodice, and fastened in place.Figure 15. Which shows the completed blouse against a rustic backdrop, with specimens of Rudbeckia and Leucanthemum. (N.B. The author wonders why undergarments cannot be advertised in like manner.)
I will post more picture-guides of affordable alterations and ideas. It is always nice for college students to have clothing options that cost only 1/38 of a single textbook's price. Someday I hope to be able to offer sewing classes to young women who would like to learn the simple techniques requisite for altering and constructing their own clothing.


  1. I got hopelessly confused right after the part with the buffalo. If you ever teach a sewing class you should do it via webcam, and I will take it. But you have to use small words so I'm sure to understand.

  2. (Also, you should use a Southern accent. >:D It was a video of a lady with a Southern accent that taught me Advanced Math.)

  3. I'll use lots of different voices. I can toggle between British, Southern, and Hungarian accents. That will make it interesting for the kids.

    It probably does look a little complicated- but once you've assembled one blouse, it won't confuse you anymore.

    Maybe I could do something via webcam- or make a Howcast-type video lesson.