I personally love customising clothes and I already knew I was rather rubbish at it, but after reading this guest post by the incredibly talented Zoe of ikiwn.com, I can confirm I have no skills on this woman at all. You are all going to LOVE this post. Over to Zoe….
Lately I have been on a mission to shop my own wardrobe and rediscover some my favourite clothes. I recently had a huge wardrobe cleanse and I found some beautiful things I’d either only worn once, or in some cases not at all, because they were getting lost in amongst a sea of newer stuff. Having a big wardrobe clear out every once in a while is not only great for the soul; it’s also great for the pocket if you choose to sell what you don’t want and it’s great for charities if you choose to donate. It’s so much fun to rediscover your faves, and with a little creativity (and a lot of hemming tape!) you can even revamp less loved pieces to give them a new lease of life.
I’m going to show you two DIY alterations that are completely no-sew. If you’d like to try something similar yourself, all you will need is a pair of scissors, some hemming tape, an iron, an ironing board, a damp cloth and a bit of time. I know, I know… hemming tape is so old school, but trust me it’s a great tool for quick and easy DIY’s. It has always worked like a charm in place of sewing for everything I’ve ever needed it to do. I buy the extra strong stuff as I find it works much better than the regular strength.
To use it, you simply fold the hem over with the hemming tape inside, put a damp cloth over the folded hem and press a hot dry iron on top of the cloth, holding it firmly for at least 10 seconds (I hold it for 20 seconds but the instructions do say 10). Once the iron is removed and the material is dry, it’s bonded together as if you’d sewn it… it’s that simple! As long as you make sure the cloth you use is damp the material won’t burn. And if you make a mistake, place the damp cloth and iron down again and once heated up you can undo it.
The first no-sew alteration uses one of my old firm favourites: this lovely bright, kermit green dress from ASOS AW14. Sadly, the long zip at the back is broken and it’s become uncomfortably tight across the bust. When looking at how I could save the dress I realised the black band around the waist would make a natural guide for where to cut it in half. I cut the dress two inches above the black waistband to give me lots of material to play with and form a decent hem with the hemming tape. One small piece of advice; when chopping up a dress with a zip, make sure the zip is undone so you don’t lose the zipper from the skirt when you cut it – I learnt that the hard way, they take forever to thread back on!
And here’s the result. I’m so pleased with the skirt, the hemming tape has made such a neat hem you’d never guess it’s past life as a dress. The best part of going for it with altering clothes are the little unexpected things that come up along the way. When I cut off the top of the dress I joked about it looking like a little backwards jacket; I tried it on and it actually looked great! I just neatened up the hem and kept the hook and eye fastening, which was already there, so it catches at the neck. I love this look, it’s bright and colourful for SS16 and it means I get to carry on wearing one of my favourite old dresses as a cute two piece. I might have gone on cute overload by styling it with the frilly socks and t-bar Dr. Martens, but I kinda couldn’t help myself…
Next up I wanted to do something with this pinafore jumpsuit; you know when you have that thing in your wardrobe that you don’t want to throw away but don’t quite know what to do with? I’ve always loved the idea of this outfit but every time I’ve tried to style it, it’s never looked quite right. It’s such a vast expanse of plain black material, and I’ve never felt that the wide legs do anything for me at all. As I don’t have the skills to take the legs in I figured I’d take them up! They were easy to alter too, I measured how short I wanted the legs to be and cut one leg first, I then used it as template for the other leg. If you try this alteration you can pin the legs up and try it on first before cutting if you’re worried about cutting right away. A quick tip: I put each leg inside out over the end of the ironing board, that made it so much easier when using the hemming tape.
I’m happy that I wasn’t able to take the legs in as shortening them turned out to be a revelation! Just removing some of the mass of plain fabric has balanced out the jumpsuit, freshening it up for this season. Culottes are so, so on trend right now, as are jumpsuits, and they’re brilliant for summer. I couldn’t help but style it with a nod to the 90’s by adding chunky sandals and a backpack. As a bonus, I know I’ll still be wearing it when winter rolls around with a jumper and boots or Dr. Martens.
If you’re inspired to have look through your wardrobe and find some pieces you’d like to alter, where are the best places to get ideas from? For me the biggest inspirations are day to day people watching, reading blogs and browsing Pinterest. Pinterest especially is great for watching trends and picking up ideas. However, as a starting point here are a few general rules of thumb:
- Dresses can always be made into skirts and, depending on the style, the tops can be made into jackets
- Trousers can be shortened into culottes, capri pants, ankle grazers or shorts
- Tops that are tight on the arms, the arms can be cut off to make a vest or crop top. The same goes for shirts and blouses, removing the arms can get another season out of them
If you are someone who can’t sew (like me) then the possibilities are endless with just a pair scissors, some hemming tape, an iron and some imagination. Most useful alterations are easy without picking up a needle and thread at all. Why not give it a go? Have a delve into your wardrobe and see what you can find… some of my favourite outfits these days come as a result of shopping my own wardrobe, wearing old things in new ways and making small alterations to give my old clothes another chance to shine!