Because not everyone is or should be a size 2. Because sometimes our body shapes fall outside the range of “norm.” Because it doesn’t come in your size. Because they only make them for men and you are a lady with a ladies’ body. Because you’re pregnant. Because you love bacon. There are more than a few reasons why you may need to alter a garment.
Making an item of clothing smaller is something tailors and seamstresses everywhere have been doing for ages. It’s mostly a function of taking in seams and cutting out material. Making a garment larger can require a bit more creativity.
A friend of mine approached me with a small job that required a bit of creative nerd problem solving and hands on construction ability. I have no clue why he came to me. His wife ordered an XS Star Trek uniform for herself and needed it taken in at the waistline, an exceedingly simple alteration, but his problem was a little bit harder. He needed something larger than an XXL to fit his frame.
The best way to go about making a garment bigger is by ordering two and using material from one to enlarge the other; that way the color, pattern, and material will be an exact match. Since there was no extra charge for XXL, he ordered two so I could cut some extra fabric from the back side of the second.
Depending on how much you need to enlarge your item, it’s likely that you can cut up one shirt and have enough material to enlarge two or even three shirts to fit your frame. Even then, you may still have material left over for another project (Star Trek uniform Christmas stockings? Star Trek uniform throw pillow?)
In this case, my friend only needed a little extra room in the belly region. The shirt fit everywhere else but stretched in an unflattering way across the middle. There was plenty of room in the arms; we only needed to add material to the body of the shirt and the existing side seams were the most natural place to do so.
Since both the material and the pattern disqualify this shirt as a cannon Star Trek uniform, we have no need to worry about creating non-cannon seams and tailoring.
We had three basic options to add the material to the side seams:
- A long, thin rectangle shaped piece – gives extra room in both the chest and belly.
- A right triangle with the 90 degree angle towards the rear – gives extra room mostly in the front and lower belly region but no additional room in the chest. This is the alteration for accommodating a pregnancy or a beer belly that looks like a pregnancy.
- An isosceles triangle – gives more room in the belly but doesn’t add much room in the chest area.
We used the measurements from one of his favorite T-shirts as a guide so we would know roughly how much material needed to be added to the sides. Because we had an abundance of material (he ordered two XXL shirts) I made one each of the different alterations and attached them with temporary basting stitches so we could see which one worked the best for his body type. For his belly shape, the isosceles triangle was the clear winner.
I have a serger sewing machine which makes sewing projects faster and easier but this alteration can easily be done on a standard machine. Here is what the alteration looks like from the inside.
Using a thread color that matched the existing exterior stitches and adjusting my stitch length to match, I re-hemmed the bottom of the garment in the new section.
He was so pleased with the alteration, he paid me to alter the gold captain’s shirt for him as well.
Love, The Nerdista