Alter and embellish

As someone who has recently started to take their sewing up a notch (inspired, as I was, to pull out my Mum’s Golden Hands embroidery bible following the sew make believe fabric collage workshop!), I have suddenly found myself more aware of the little extras that make all the difference to an item of clothing. My obsession started when, having lost my coat on the train to Brum, I realised the coat projects I’d been putting off for months, in one case, years, finally needed finishing. I shortened that cape coat. And then, I set to work on the lovely fur-collared coat I’ve been failing to wear since circa 1999.

I had this coat for Christmas 1997 and I loved it! I wore it over my platform knee boots and mini skirts to add a bit of Spice Girls flair to my wardrobe. I wore it on snowy days over my uniform to work the Christmas sale season at Next. At school it earned me the nickname Princess, and it saw me well into the first year at university.

But it’s one of those oh-so-90s numbers whose shape and length is just not versatile. The skirt is just a little too narrow. The length is just a little too long – or short, for that matter. And so it languished in the wardrobe, unworn, unseen, apparently unloved…

Yup, I chopped it up. And then I used the chopped off bits to make a belt. And now, well, it looks great. I wore it on the weekend and guess what: I love it again!

The effect of successful sewing is so often the desire to continue to sew. And so it was that I started looking at ideas for improvements to other, lesser worn items. Now, I don’t have much in the way of projects going just yet, but I have picked up a couple of ideas along the way that I thought might just inspire some of you, my dear readers, to embellish and alter your own wardrobes to create some more flattering pieces!


So, this dress is killer, right? You know why it suits me? Because I’m a pear shape. I have far wider hips than the rest of my body allows for. I do not have a big enough bust to create that lusted after hourglass shape…

Unless my bust is somehow magically emphasised with ruffles!

How easy would it be to take that plain pencil dress and add three rows of ruffles to the top? I’m thinking, very!

(There’s a great ruffles tutorial here to get you started.)


You’ve probably worked out by now that this one isn’t actually me…

No, this is the model embodying pin-up style on the Pin-Up Parade website, where I want every single dress in every single colour to fill my wardrobe…

But on to the point, you see those buttons? They do something very important to this dress. They create curves. They don’t just follow the shape, oh no, they actually exaggerate it, creating a tinier waist, a curvier hip and a fuller bust. They swerve out from a central point on the waist to draw the eye smoothly around the bends, so to speak. If you’d like to create more of an hourglass on a possibly straighter figure, this is the way to do it. Buy some buttons and try it for yourself.



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