The Pirate Cambie returns!
Folks: I hate alterations. Even really simple stuff. I mean, it’s so boring, right?! Seriously, I’m with Marie when she says ‘once a make is done, it’s done!’. Like Marie, I would rather make something again from scratch than faff around with unpicking it and trying to sort it out.
But here is one exception: my Sewaholic Pirate Cambie dress, made last year. Man, I love this dress. The fabric, the style…everything about it. Apart from the fact it’s too big! I just couldn’t bear to see it hanging in my wardrobe, unwearable, and I wasn’t about to try and fatten up in order to wear it!
I knew I had to do something with it, but I also knew it wouldn’t just be as simple as taking it in a bit at the side seams, so, one weekend when Julia was here, I got her to pin it where it needed taking in, and let’s see….well….it needed taking in at the shoulders, at the side, at the top, at the back, under the bust…erm just about everywhere!
I was faced with the nightmarish prospect of a) unpicking the whole dress b) having to alter not only the main fabric but the full lining as well. I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Julia offered to help me unpick the dress, which was very kind, especially seeing as most of the seams were overlocked as well as stitched. That is a LOT of unpicking! At the time, I only had one seam ripper, so we took it in turns to unpick as much as we could stand to in one go!
We didn’t get it all unpicked that weekend, but eventually over the next few weeks I forced myself to get the lining and main dress completely detached, the skirt/waistband and skirt/waistband lining removed from the bodice, the zip unpicked, and the bodice and its lining completely taken to pieces, even with the darts unpicked. It then stayed like that in a plastic bag for a few months whilst I built up the willpower to tackle it.
The alterations I needed to make were too numerous, so I decided to trace a size smaller from the original pattern and use the existing pre-cut pieces, and re-sew them up a size smaller.
To ensure I could do this accurately, I used a trick learned from my pattern cutting class: I traced the new size, removed the seam allowance, and then thread traced around the pattern piece onto the fabric. This way I could see exactly where I would need to match up the seams, and I wouldn’t have to worry about seam allowance. It was also a very convenient way of marking the darts (I did have to adapt the front pattern piece to a single layer however, rather than on-the-fold).
I really struggled to keep motivated with this alteration. I resented having to spend hours and hours working on a dress I already made last year. I spent longer on this alteration than I did making the damn thing in the first place! I kept having to force myself to work on it, and I procrastinated a lot by finding other things to do instead…but eventually, at long, long last, I finished it. My first words to the husband as I emerged from the sewing room were: “I’ve f*cking done it!”, followed shortly after by a tweet to Julia saying ‘Thank f*cking f*ck, I’ve finally finished my alterations!’ Can you tell I was relieved?!
But was it worth it? YES! TOTALLY YES! The fact that I did keep on with it is testament to how much I love this dress. The fit is better – not perfect, mind, because I used the straight-out-of-the-packet size – but most importantly, I can wear it again! I wore it the very next day in fact, and received many compliments on it!
How do you other sewists feel about alterations? Love them or hate them?