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As much as I love handmade clothing that fits me perfectly and is made from the perfect fabric in the perfect colors, I do not have the time to make all of my clothing. I wish I did, but I don’t. I do make some of my clothing, but I also alter a lot of ready-to-wear clothing to fit me and work with my wardrobe. I really want everything in my wardrobe to be worn, and I want to love everything in my wardrobe. I really love the idea of altering because it’s cheap or free, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. But you get a whole new piece to work with in your wardrobe!
Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe

1. Wear A Dress as a Tunic and Adding Another Button – I got this olive dress from TOBI that I wear as a tunic since it’s much too short on me. I’ve never tried wearing a dress as a tunic before, but I really love it. Unfortunately, the front button placket only buttons up to just under by bust which is not high enough for my preference. 

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe

I took the extra button from the price tag and sewed it above the top button. I also added another buttonhole above the top buttonhole. This makes it so I don’t have to wear anything under the tunic. This might be one of my favorite alterations yet. It was so easy, but makes such a big difference to if I want to wear it.

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe

2. Lengthening or Shortening Sleeves – I found this knit blazer, and I fell in love with it immediately. It fit well except the sleeves were a little too short. I purchased it, and then let the sleeves out to lengthen them. I wear it all the time now!

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe
blazer (similar)
3. Wear Something Under a Sheer and Too Short Item – I got this sweater; it was a little sheer and the sleeves were a little too short. I was pretty disappointed because it didn’t seem sheer online. I love the preppy look of a button down shirt under a sweater. This takes care of the sweater being sheer, and when I cuff the sleeves you can’t tell that the sleeves are too short.

4. Dye or Bleach a Dress – I bought this dress thinking it was navy striped. When it arrived it was black striped. Now my husband thought I should just return it because he’s an intelligent, regular person. I make my life harder and decided to bleach the dress. I bleached it twice and got this nice reddish brown. This dress will be perfect for the summer.

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe
dress (thredUp)

5. Add Shirring to Lower or Raise a Waist – Surprisingly, this maxi dress was not too short for me, but the waist was too high. It was about an inch and a half above my actual waist. This isn’t that big of a deal, but I felt like I didn’t get definition at my thinnest section. I added a couple of rows of shirring below the dress’s waist which brings brings the waist definition lower. Now the dress fits me perfectly.

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe
Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe

 6. Add Shirring to Define a Waist – My husband bought me this dress for Valentine’s day and he totally nailed it. I love the colors and the embroidery and the style. It was supposed to come with a belt, but it didn’t. I marked where my waist was and added three rows of shirring. It’s the perfect dress now, and I actually love that I can wear it without a belt.

Make Ready-to-Wear Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe
If you want some more altering ideas, check out this list!
  1. Using a Pattern to Upcycle a Tee
  2. Fitting Thrifted Jeans
  3. Adding Cuffs to Knit Pants
  4. How to Add Lace to Sweater Sleeves
  5. Lengthening a Short Tee
  6. How to Cut and Cuff Pants to Shorts

Author: Heather