Closing a gaping sleeveless armhole in a ready made dress.
I’ve discovered that altering ready to wear is a hateful activity in the American hobby sewing community. I’m not sure why sewists/sewers/seamstresses detest alterations? Frankly, I don’t mind altering something at all for a couple of reasons:
- Altering a store bought item will give it a custom fit which makes it look way more flattering and expensive.
- Altering is one way of finding out how high end (and low end) RTW is made from the inside. In years past, I’ve learned a LOT from altering clothing cheap and not so cheap.
So, without further ado, here is how I shrunk a gaping sleeveless armhole in my daughter’s striped cotton dress from Lands End. This particular bodice was pieced in a perfect chevron pattern at the front, had a side bust dart and was fully self-lined.
The obvious alteration would have been to create an armhole dart. But that would have been unsightly since there was already a bust dart in the bodice. Also, the stripe distortion would have been more pronounced.
I went to plan B, which was ease stitch the armhole of the front bodice enough to bring it closer to the body. This, I found to be a more, shall we say, organic mode of altering the armhole. Did I say the bodice was fully self-lined? And the lining layer under-stitched?
- Grab your seam ripper and remove the under-stitching, then open the dress/lining armhole seam for about 5-6” on the front armhole only. The seam allowance, I discovered, was no more than ¼”. And that is good; it’s common in the ready to wear industry.
- Ease stitch the opening on both front and lining layers by sewing a line of 3 mm stitches barely inside the seam allowance. This is a narrow seam, but you can do it. Ease stitching: after taking a few stitches, I put my finger on the back of the presser foot and the fabric sort of collects there, rather than pass straight to the back. This creates what you can technically call gathers, but it is really easing. Once you press it down, the fabric shrinks and there is barely a ripple. Well, maybe some rippling will occur but not too bad. I reduced the armhole by as much as one inch and it made all the difference.
- Press after the ease stitching.
- Hand baste the opening closed. Press.
- Slip stitch the lining and front layer together by hand. Give it a final press. What about the under-stitching in those 5-6”?? Forget about it.
Not too bad.
Do you like to do nip and tuck alterations on ready made clothing? Or do you just hate doing that? I would love to start a discussion about it. Chime in below!