(Tutorial pics at: http://www.sisteroo.com/2011/09/shrink-sew.html
First of all, I need to put it out there--I am not a seamstress or a sewer. I have great respect for those of you who know how to magically transform bits of fabric into stylish, glam clothing. My typical sewing project results in bag lady, circa 1920. I bought my first ever sewing machine last month. I had to watch a video (multiple times) to figure out how to thread an automatic bobbin threader. Until that point, I wasn't even aware what a "bobbin" was. I also got the tracing wheel confused with the seam ripper and was vigorously "ripping" (in actuality, "tracing") until the husband kindly informed me of my error. So if you're a pro, you'll likely think my attempts are nothing to rave over, but if you're a novice you might realize that, yes, even you can sew (or shrink up some baggy clothes as I'll show you below).
My main goal in purchasing a sewing machine was to learn how to refashion drab clothing into something more stylish. To begin, I went to my local Goodwill where they were having a "$1 day". I found a red dress and a pink shirt, neither of which I loved. The way I see it, if you're working with non-loved clothing you can destroy them without too much heartache. I also had a pink dress at home that was twice my size that I knew needed a good shrinking. So with three potential outfits I knew my new sewing machine and I would have some grand adventures.
(Tutorial pic at: http://www.sisteroo.com/2011/09/shrink-sew.html
The Ruffled Red Dress
This dress was long, shapeless, shoulder padded mess with brass buttons traveling from top to bottom. It was something I assumed would never look decent, but I decided to try some different things and see where the dress took me.
1) Cut off a good 10 inches of the length and hemmed up the bottom.
2) Removed the ugly buttons.
3) Hung the dress up and let it sit for a few days. I'm realizing I view sewing like art projects, you allow the canvas (clothing) to inspire you and guide you to an end product. I had to rein myself in from cutting up my excess fabric because I knew I'd need it.
4) Sewed in the sides to give the dress shape. This process is quite easy all it requires is you wearing the dress/shirt while it's inside out and drawing lines with a marker/chalk where you'd like the dress/shirt to fit. I used a disapperaing ink marker which worked like a charm. After your use the marker you sew on the lines you drew, flip the dress/shirt back normally and make sure it fits. (If that made no sense to you watch this video on youtube)
5) I decided I wanted some sort of a ruffle effect on the dress with ruffle strips so I cut up my excess fabric into 2 inch strips. I then sewed elastic along the back of each while holding the elastic firmly so when I released it would bunch up. I also decided to do a ruffle/bunching for the sleeve, so I flipped the dress inside out and sewed elastic where the sleeve is (while holding tightly). I'd suggest trying the elastic out on a non-important piece of fabric to get the feel for how tightly you want to hold the elastic.
6) I let the dress sit some more. I played with various ways of arranging the strips and finally decided on the one you see now.
7) Sew it all together and be proud of your first project you sewed unsupervised!