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Altering a shirt...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello forum, This question is for any tailors, amateur clothing makers, or even Mr. Kabbaz himself. Does anyone alter their own clothes? Specifically, dress shirts and hems on pants. My problem is that I have a 16.5 or 17 inch neck, but a 36" (actual measurment, I take a 39-40) chest and a 31" waist, so dress shirts in that size fit me like a huge sack. Also, I wear a lot of them untucked with jeans as my usual outfit, and many are too long. I'd need to hem the length a bit. I don't have the money right now to have the shirts professionally tailored. Besides, I take pride in learning new trades and would like to try this on my own. Any tips for a person learning to sew and tailor? What are the specific steps one would go through to taper in a dress shirt? I'd imagine that the side seams would need to be opened, the sleeves removed, and perhaps even the collar altered. What about for hemming the shirt length or length of pants? Help is much appreciated. -Eric
post #2 of 5
Quote:
I don't have the money right now to have the shirts professionally tailored.  
I've never had it done but I think it's pretty cheap to have a shirt altered. Perhaps you mean you have many you would like done, thus adding up?
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Yes, I meant that I had many I would like altered. The tailor I always use charges $20 to have the shirt tapered, and $6 to have the length hemmed. There are about 20 dress shirts that I own and would like to wear often that do not fit correctly...i.e. too baggy. I don't have $500 to drop for all of that. Plus, I think it would be a very useful skill to have learned.
post #4 of 5
I've done some relatively minor alterations...making a long-sleeved shirt into a short-sleeve, turning pants into shorts, cuffing pants, re-attaching all the buttons on my shirts using a shank, and modifying the curve of the bottom hem of some shirts.  I'm working on redoing the double-needle side seams on a shirt in single-needle. The thing about altering is that it can be time-consuming.  But some alterations are quick.  I'm much more likely to alter inexpensive items than big-ticket items.  With the inexpensive items it is usually a matter of construction, and I often buy these items with specific alterations in mind.  With expensive items I try to buy only things which will fit me well with minimal alteration or, preferrably, no alterations.  You should keep a few things in mind: considering how much you paid for a particular garment, is it worth your time to alter it (maybe drastically) to fit you?  Will you, for example, be able to have the patterns match if you take in the chest and the waist?  Do you know how to sew single needle flat-felled seams?  Do you know how to use a rolled hem/scroll foot? Will the buttonhole layout seem odd/not quite right from overall shortening of the shirt?  The buttonhole layout on the front placket cannot be altered. It is definitely nice to learn new things.  But I would much rather buy an inexpensive, well-fitting shirt from Jantzen than buy an expensive RTW shirt which I would have to alter just to fit me.  If anything, I would want to alter cheap shirts I bought long ago, just for experience.  I have my way of figuring "total expense" of an item.  If the item is inexpensive it may require my time(=money) to make it better.  If the item is expensive and requires no alteration then its "total cost" may not be much more than that of an originally inexpensive garment which became more expensive by requiring my time.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Good point, banksmiranda. The shirts I would be altering are nicer shirts (mainly Armani Collezioni and Zegna) that I got at very low prices. If it was a shirt I was paying a lot of money for, I would make sure it fit well; I will probably order Jantzen shirts for when I have a 'real' job and need to wear dress shirts tucked in and buttoned all the way up (right now I'm just wearing them mostly untucked and with jeans, I buy 15.5 shirts because I don't need them to button all the way up and they fit a lot better through the chest). These were just too good to pass up for the price, and though they don't fit perfectly, I knew that I could have them tailored. Problem is that I need to come up with $1600 by the end of January for tuition payments and therefore altered shirts have a low priority. The bottom of the shirt would only be shortened an inch or two; and its the material that is normally tucked in anyway so I don't think that it would change the look of the button layout. I was planning on going to the local goodwill and picking up a bunch of dress shirts for $2.99 to practice with, deconstruct, and dissect to see what goes into the shirtmaking process.
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