A couple of years ago, I scored this lovely kameez at a thrift shop. The neck was too tight, and the bust/shoulder area/sleeves were, too. And the inner seams were unfinished- they hadn't even been pinked, and the fabric was unravelling in places. But it was too pretty to walk away from, and at $2.50, it was a steal...and shoot, it *almost* fit!
And there were the pretty details, of course, such as these lovely appliques:
These are the kinds of things that I can't just walk away from! I kept it, thinking that someday I would have the skills to make it wearable. (As it turns out, it was more an issue of NyQuil-fueled bravery, and a mild fever.) About three weeks ago, I decided it was do or die- skills to complete it or not, I was going to at least start on it, rather than have it sit in my closet for yet another year. So, to start with, I removed the appliques. I then tore out the entire side seams, which the original sewist had done all in one length, from the undersides of the sleeves, to the hems at the bottom. After that, I spent about an hour, adjusting my faithful sidekick Dame Judy to my current measurements, and draped it on her. And then I was stumped.
There was the issue of the neckline being a tiny, tiny little square hole...and of the length of the dress. So I whacked about a foot off of the bottom, front and back, and proceeded to salvage all of the lovely binding/edging from the hems. Then, I tackled the neckline, something. *Shudder* I hate choky things!
The bust and shoulder were very, er, restrictive. My husband said that it was FINE, that it looked "hot", but it was most assuredly NOT. Did I mention my issues with choky and bindy things?
I have a pretty slender neck, but it still bound! It also had a hook closure and side flap along the shoulder seam. I ripped that out, sewed a new shoulder seam in on the closure side, and cut a new neckline more to my liking....
...And bound it with salvaged trim. After that, I laid the front piece flat on a table and placed the appliques in a pleasing new configuration, then pinned and sewed 'em on.
Then I was presented with the next problem: how to add some width to the bust/sleeve area? It took me over a week to figure it out, but it finally came to me: woven fabric or no, I could use the same technique that many folks have used to made a tiny t-shirt wearable again! Just add a strip of fabric into the sides and arms, and viola! But, because of the structure of a kameez, I didn't need it to extend all the way down. Parts of the kameez (like everything from the bust on down) were already plenty wide enough. The inserts would have to taper, and I'd have to make a y-seam in the sides, where the tapered ends of the inserts met with the seams. Spurred on by the common cold, and a combo of Sudafed and Benedryl, I got serious. Sorry that I didn't get photos of that process, but I will explain- first, I cut a matching pair of slices from my excess fabric, about 5' wide. I carefully pinned these into the bottoms of the sleeves, and down the sides of the top, fitted into the side seams. Then, I put on the top, scratching the holy Hell out of my arms and sides. Standing in front of a mirror, I pinned it at the points that the fabric of the sides would need to be joined at. Took it off (more bleeding ensued), flipped it inside out, unpinned the inserts, and started marking. The two points that the inserts needed to end didn't quite match, so I averaged the measurement for the length of the strips. I also marked where the armpits/sleeve seams would meet the inserts, so that everything would align when I sewed it up, and to determine where the tapering should begin. From there, I took a ruler and chalked two lines from the armpit seam points, down to the line where the inserts would need to end, at the middle of the fabric's width. This created a pair of rectangles with triangular ends. I pinned them in again, and sewed them into the undersides of the sleeves. From there, I created (by a great deal of trial and error!) y-seams in the sides of the bodice. I pinked all of the seams, to stop the unravelling problem, even going so far as to undo and redo several of them, to make sure that they'd STAY nice and solid. Then, I finished out the side seams, and hemmed the newly re-created top. Again, my apologies for not having taken photos of this process- I was too caught up in the moment, once I got started!
The result was this cute top:
And finally, on me:
So, if you ever run across a lovely kameez, and it *mostly* fits, remember, it CAN be altered to make a cute top! Just takes some engineering, determination, and chalk. (And possibly a little bleeding, if you haven't invested in fabric clips yet. This is now the next thing on my list of upcoming sewing purchases!)
Happy Valentine's Day, all!