We have a family wedding coming up towards the end of the year and the suit I had made is way too big as I have lost weight (in a good way).  Too bad for that lovely silk suit I had hand tailored for me in Kuala Lumpur!

I was about to drive down to the dressmaker for some alterations and then I thought, how hard can it be to alter a silk suit?  It has been a very simple process and as I did it, I realized that it needed a complete restyle as what fits a chunky short person doesn’t fit my new shape.  (The weight loss has come from living in a house with fifty stairs, added to the fact that we eat local in-season fish and fruit almost exclusively here.)


So I unpicked the jacket carefully while watching telly.  Removed the sleeves as they looked daggy and air-hostess-like.  Cut in the side seams and inch each with a nice, figure hugging curve after unpicking the lower hem.  Do the same to the lining.  Added some pleats to the now automatic cap sleeves and some ornamental self-covered buttons.  Now to the skirt.  As it was a mid-calf length I shortened it and took it in again an inch or a bit more each side.  With the bits cut out I am in the process now of turning it into a light, gored skirt with a bit of bounce and flair which is more appealing at my present weight and more fun to dance in.


Not content with that, I am revamping a beautiful champagne silk ensemble (bought at an op shop for $30) which is size 4 and made for a tall skinny girl.  It has a matching stole and handbag.  So to lift that to size 6 US (8 Australia) I am about to commence removing the long invisible back zip, inserting a placket instead into which I sew some lacing loops to contain a long tie ribbon.  The dress is way too long and the fabric I cut off will be plenty for this.  Another problem is that there is a pulled thread (hazard with silk) right in the front, so I will bead this with tiny pearls and champagne coloured beads when I have finished the ‘do’.

After the wedding I will post pix of the outfits but till then, they need to stay under wraps!

In the past, my daughter and I have altered op shop buys for school ‘proms’ to some good effect and the key to it is to buy something GREAT to start with and then scour the fabric shops for the embellishments.  We usually had silk as our starter dresses and bought high quality remnants (see Rathdowne Remnants in Melbourne for a fabulous range or the Clegg’s bridal factory shop, both in Brunswick) and upper class beads.  All ours have been part of the family collection which I have used and added to since I was a child.  Some sparkly rhinestone buttons can also work a treat.

Recycling clothing and making expensive formal clothes (with care and take your time!  Tack every seam and re-fit prior to finishing) not only saves a lot of carbon as most of these formals have a high component of imported material, but you may be avoiding child labour as well.

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