I guess most of us have been there. The dress that you have been waiting so eagerly for has finally arrived - but does not fit. Most recently this happened to me with the Birdie. I swear I could have fitted two cantaloupes in there, no push-up bra could have helped me.

I thought I'd try on my own, and initially took it in under the collar on both sides, which helped a lot, but it was still ill-fitting. The top seemed too long, which I guess is due to the initial fit, which was for a much larger bust. I didn't have a clue what I was doing anyway.

I recently attended an intro course in sewing, so I asked about doing this. The instructor said that if the alterations/reuse course they will be holding was too far away (November!), I could come with the dress to an open workshop. Which I did this Monday.

Of course I'd hoped that a professional would have a quick and easy solution for me, but nooo. She told me I'd have to remove the sleeves, partially remove the collar, make a new seam at the shoulders, sew the sleeves back on (the opening for the sleeves on the dress was of course now a different size), and make the collar smaller, since it would now be too long, before reattaching it... :/

I decided that I'd give it a try, although there where so many ways in which this could go wrong, and my sewing experience is little more than sewing my first skirt. I tried to convince myself that if I screwed up, at least I'd have learned something, but I was feeling a little sick while taking it apart.

It went a lot better than expected, although the workshop ended before I could start on the collar and had to go home to do it with a few instructions from her in my head. Somehow I have managed to do this now, and I finally have a dress that I can comfortably wear! Very happy. :)

I decided to give it a go, not just because getting it done professionally would cost more than the dress itself, but because I've started to learn how to sew, so why not try that too. I learned a lot about fit, and I think it will be of good use when I "graduate" to tops. I'm not sure I'd say I'm confident about trying to alter my Haunted Housewife next, but at least I'm not completely clueless now.

How about you? Do you return and try a different size, get it altered professionally, or do you manage this yourself?

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I am petrified of altering clothes myself....cant even sew a button on right. I just bought a dress from another seller here...miliarty one in tan/olive. I need to buttons sewn on tighter so they dont move, the little clips at the back sewn on tighter again so I'm comfortable they wont come off. I also need a section by the bust sewn together as my bazooms are way too out there in the dress...I mean they could take someone eye out so I think a little seam across the V line could make a difference. My instant thoughts were 'must get this to the tailors so it fits better for me'. Didnt even think I'll do this myself. I really should learn to sew, think I'll look into courses. It's emabarssing I have to get my fella to sew buttons on things for me, I recently drove around to my mums to get her to hem some trousers as I cant do it! I think girls who love clothes as much as we do should have some knowledge! Thanks to your story I'm going to look to see if there are any local courses! :)

Awesome! :) I really recommend courses. I learned so much more than I had imagined both times, and it was very inspiring too.

Just a follow-up. I finally dared to go ahead and alter the Haunted Housewife (sorry about the wrinkles, I just finished up!). It took me longer, as some parts were more difficult (reattaching the collar, e.g.). I had to remove the sleeves, and the collar, but I managed to alter it in such a way that I didn't have to alter the collar itself, like on the Birdie. I'm quite happy with the result, although it's not like it would have been if it had fit me properly in the first place, but this I can definitely wear. I think the instructor gave some good advice w.r.t. altering - find something that works, and that is good enough. I have also altered a dress from VoH, and I'm going to move a couple of the buttons on my Vintage Bustier Top, but then I'm finally getting back to why I got the sewing machine in the first place - sew clothes! :)

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Looks good! :)

I grew up sewing...so I have always altered my own clothes...although when it comes to zippers I prefer to have someone else do them for me...because I detest putting them in lol...I buy alot of 2nd hand vintage stuff and usually make them over to fit me...also I like to freshen up my clothes with new trim and things to make them last longer...I do not claim to be an expert I am always try ing to learn new methods and techniques...I also love going to the library and researching vintage sewing techniques and patterns...its always good to have some basic skills...and the pictures on here of the alterations are quite good...in the long run it saves money bing able to do your own mending..or altering...:) (more money to spend on clothes..:) )

Hi, Margrete!

I have always had a passion for sewing; handsewing or machine, its a wonderful skill to know, especially for me since I wear a great deal of vintage and sell it as well. I personally think you did a fantastic job , especially since you say you're new to it? You obviously will do well as it becomes more complicated! For me, I always order one size up if its a new designer (if applicable; I am a dress size (16-18 US); that way, I can tailor it for a superb fit! as you go on, you will see that it is a cinch to do these projects (deconstruction/reconstruction and find some cool tips to help you along the way. Best of luck to you; you did a very fine job!

Thanks for the replies! Nice to hear both that some of you do this and have the skills, and that others now consider doing it too. :) Jill, interesting to hear that you order a size up and then tailor it! I'm hoping that the process I'll be going through now with sewing from scratch will help me do a better job if (when, more likely!) I have to alter something again, that I come to understand better the "whole picture" of the fit, and how it all works together.

Your work looks great; you will do fine; and yes, I always order a size up; I have large arms, honey, so it helps me to order a size up so I am not crying in a corner because I can't get my arms to fit into the sleeves, LOL! Best of luck to you!

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