sábado, 10 de agosto de 2013

Transformation: Lolita Blouse Part I

I always hear people asking how to alter off-brand items so that they fit into the Lolita aesthetics better. My idea is to write a series of posts showing simple ways to alter such items, beyond just adding lace and ruffles.
Today I'm starting with an introduction and then some suggestions on how to alter the fitting of a plain button-up shirt so that it becomes more like a lovely Lolita-appropriate blouse.

♦ Preparation
Choose the blouse you want to work with. The closer it is to the results you want, the easier it will be to alter it. Radical transformations are possible, but sometimes having a new blouse custom made from scratch is more worth it.
So pick up your shirt and put it on. Where does it fit, where does it not fit? What do you like about it, and what to you want to change? If you can, take pictures while wearing it, front and back (this will also make for a fun before-after comparison when you're done altering!).
Now go to HelloLace.net, Lolibrary.org or other lolita apparel search website of your choice and look for blouses that look the most like the shirt you have, and blouses that look like what you want to have. Save the images you like, and play fashion designer for a bit.

♦ Solving problems: Fitting
Most Lolita blouses have a fitted waist, but many off-brand shirts/blouses don't. You can always have a seamstress tailor it for you, but as the goal of this post is DIY-ing, here are some alternatives that double as cute details.

Darts can be a nice alteration when all you need is to take a little bit in at the waist. The dart should be deeper at the waist and taper out on both ends. With the shirt on inside-out, mark the fuller point of your bust line on each side and the smallest part of your waist, also on each side. Take it off. Pinch in at most 2 cm on each side at the waist and secure the folded fabric with a pin. Add pins in a gentle angle from the waist mark to the bust mark. Then, add pins forming a similar angle from the waist mark pointing towards the hem. They will form arches. Make sure both sides are symmetric and sew along the line of pins. Turn the shirt right side out and you have darts! Do the same on the back if necessary, but using your shoulder blades as a reference point instead of your bust.

Tucks and pin tucks might help if your blouse is too big at the bodice from shoulder to hem. Find out how much fabric you have to spare, taking into consideration the largest measurement of your torso (usually the bust). Next you need to do some math. With each tuck you "eat up" double the width of the tuck in fabric. If you make a single 1 cm pin-tuck, it takes in 2 cm of fabric. But remember you have to create the same amount of tucks on each side of the blouse! For example, if you add three 1 cm pin-tucks on each side of your blouse, you end up with a blouse 12 cm smaller. All you have to do is pin, press and sew straight lines. It is possible to extend the tucks to the back of the shirt, going over the shoulder, to take it in even more. You can also stop the tucks at waist level, and then the fabric will flare out from the waist to the hips.

Lacing is a fun detail that you can add to the back or to the sides of a blouse, as seen in this Excentrique example. All you need is a sturdy scalloped lace - something like this - or some other kind of trim that has loops big enough to fit a ribbon through. Choose a strategic placement: I recommend sewing the lace over existing darts or seams. You can choose where the lacing starts and ends and how wide the panel is, depending on how much you need to take in and in what places. Then all you have to do is thread a ribbon and now you have a piece that can be adjusted for slightly different sizes.

Shirring is another easy and versatile solution. This can only be done to a shirt that is too loose at the waist, but not so much at the bust (great for those who have a large bust and a small waist!). You can use elastic thread to sew parallel lines around the waist line. If your shirt is too long for your torso, you can take advantage of that and fold the fabric to create horizontal channels through which you put elastic bands. There are many other ways of using gathering to suit your needs and tastes, it all depends on your creativity. More examples: a single elastic under the chest for an empire waist; elastics all the way to the bottom, to take away the hip flare out effect; using ribbon instead of elastics and tying a bow with it.

Like I said, this isn't supposed to be a tutorial, but if you want more specific instructions please leave a comment and I will be glad to help in any way I can. Next post I will continue to talk about shirts and blouses, and then move on to other pieces: skirts and dresses.
I also hope to share my own sewing and altering experiences somewhere between posts, so you will have a more concrete before-after comparison example.

See you next time!

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