Monday, 8 March 2010

Alterations vs Sewing the lot

I don't like alterations. Alterations rank very highly on my boredometer. Despite this, I spend quite a bit of time doing alterations as I am even more bored by spending money on something I can do myself. However, I rarely carry out alterations on my own clothing any more, as I prefer to sew new things.
Yesterday, I had planned to start a pair of Burda 12-2009-115 trousers for myself, curved seams and all, but realized that these trousers would require 1. Tracing 2. Pattern fitting 3. a toile 4. several hours of actual construction, and 5. I wanted trousers to wear to work on Monday. #5 was not compatible with the previous numbers.
I thought that instead, I would make trousers 4-2009-115, which I had already made as jeans, so were already up to step 4 and also were very simple to construct.
Whilst searching for the altered back pattern piece I came across a shameful object - purchased trousers.
These were purchased in January 2008. After 3 days of shopping with my sister in Melbourne, all I managed to buy for my then desperate need of work clothes was one shirt (5 hours of alteration required) and this pair of trousers. I have not been able to wear RTW trousers since I was 13 years old. It is not simply that they are ill fitting, as if the hips fit, the waist is so ridiculously large, that it then falls down to the hips, giving a rap boy crotch line, which I consider unwearable.
I girded my loins, and altered them. 2.5 hours of precious sewing time. I am documenting this to discourage myself from even trying to buy trousers again.
First I removed the back waistband. This reminded me how badly sewn RTW can be.
Next I took in the sideseams of the entire outer leg.
I lowered the crotch seam.
I took in the back darts and the centre back seam at very top.
I added a centre back seam to the waistband, and sewed this at an angle, tapering to the waist.
I quartered the back waistband, and added a similar seam at each side of the waistband.
I reconstructed the back waistband, matching seams and darts.
I took up the hems.
I now have wearable trousers. The only problem is that they are made of not-very-nice poly blend fabric, the colour is not great on me, and they still don't fit very well. They are also pocketless trousers, as I always pick trousers with few details, such as pockets, as these make alterations more difficult.
Materials cost $89.95 trousers, $1 or so thread.
Time cost 3x4 hours shopping, 2.5 hours sewing, 14.5 hours.
I could not abuse my mojo this much on a Sunday, so started the Burda trousers. I was able to spend about 2 hours more sewing.
So far, I have cut out, sewn darts, tried a new welt pocket technique with exposed zipper for a pocket, sewn the legs and crotch, and am up to the zipper insertion. It will take me more than half an hour to finish them, but I am ahead already. Note to self. Do not buy trousers again.


KID, MD said...

An excellent reminder to us all! Getting the perfect trouser fit may be a challenge, but look at all the work it saves!! You're amazing.

Carol said...

I have no pants that fit. Not one. I have been planning a fitting weekend but am having trouble getting motivated. I even thought of purchasing a pair of poorly and cheaply made pants. Thankfully you have succeeded in putting this idea out of my head. I will make the time to muslin a simple pattern and get pants that fit!!!

Anonymous said...

This is, in fact, the one sewing lesson I have taken to my heart: never, ever, buy trousers. However I admire your alterationality.

RuthieK said...

Am impressed with your perseverance. I can buy some RTW trousers that stay up (my secret, wide leg pants but down a size, this way the legs are wide enough for thigh/bottom but the waist only gaps a bit. The slightly low rise ones are less comfie but fit better. At least you can sew your own, some women just have to wear poorly fitting trousers.

BetsyV said...

Wow. Now I KNOW for certain you are a better woman than I am.

The last time I altered a pair of RTW pants, they were inexpensive Old Navy Outlet stretch chinos, and I removed a few of the belt loops, took in the center back and side seams each 1" at the waist (6" total waist reduction) and tapering to 0" about 6" down, being careful to NOT catch the back pockets in the intake, and putting the belt loops back on. I did NOT take the waistband off; I simply sewed right through it.

Alterationality - what a great word ejvc.

Handmade said...

You are a trojan! Hopefully your next project won't rate on your boredometer!

Shelley's Garden said...

A good reminder. I'm altering a skirt I got at a consignment store. Silk, $12. A great deal. But when i consider the alterations I'm doing...Not so.

Little Hunting Creek said...

I have the same problem and no longer buy pants either - after all the alteration work required, it is actually easier to make them

The Slapdash Sewist said...

One of the last RTW purchases I made was two pairs of pants about three years ago. They are still in my sewing room to be altered.

Mary Nanna said...

Funnily enough I was thinking about this post several times today. That could be a sign that I should stop reading sewing blogs and get out more, but the thought was, "she's reached THE POINT. There is a point in sewing, where much as you would love to just go out and buy something made by someone else you just can't do it anymore without thinking, "I could make that for cheaper, I could make that fit better."

That's what I call, "THE POINT" - I'm not sure if it's a place of no return, but it's a place that makes shopping trips entirely, well, pointless.

For me I have mixed feeling about reaching it, because the instant gratification of having a new garment right now is gone. There's no quick fix, no quick self re-invention, no chance to enjoy another's skill in design and construction.

I would love to be able to go out and buy things off the rack again, but I may have gone too far over to the home-made side.