Dress to Impress (for Less), Gen DIY-er

Turning drab into fab

Like many Gen Y-ers, I am craft-challenged. My sewing skills consist of threading needles and accidentally stitching <insert crafty project here> to the clothes currently being worn.

I am also vertically challenged. My trousers and dresses are always in need of shortening, and instead of doing it myself, I usually pay someone else to alter them. NOT THRIFTY.

I’ve got several items currently in the mending pile, including one 80’s polyester dress purchased from an op shop. I loved the fluoro pink and blue stripes, but the ankle-skimming length of the hemline made the dress uber daggy and I had worn it only once with the offensive hem tucked underneath my skirt and stockings. Again, NOT THRIFTY.

Armed with a library book on mending* and Cheap Geek’s mending kit, I decided to must-be-thrifty the situation:

1) Decide upon new hem length. In this instance, just skirting below bum cheeks. Yesss.

2) Hack off offensive extra fabric with trusty scissors.

3) Hide fabric edge by folding twice. My library book says, ‘Tuck the raw edge under…Press. Fold again, aligning it with your marked line. Press.’ Polyester is very slippery and doesn’t crease well, so instead of pinning the fabric down, I used Mum’s trick of temporarily stitching it up with some thread. Big stitches are used and the ends are not knotted for quick removal.

4) Using a thread that matches the fabric colour, stitch a couple of times on the same spot in a hidden location and start hemming with a whip stitch or blind stitch** so that the stitches are invisible on the right side of the fabric. Stitching a skirt hem by hand took me a few hours, so do put on a good playlist while you’re at it and don’t forget to take breaks.

5) Once the new hem is done (or you’ve nearly run out of thread), secure it with a double loop knot:

Make a small stitch into your work in an inconspicuous spot, but before pulling the thread all the way through, insert your needle into the loop and also in the resulting second loop. Cinch up the thread to make a small knot. Clip the thread to release your needle from the work (via Mend it Better).

After a final press, my dress shirt/shirt dress was ready to wear with opaque tights, a belt, and a nice pair of heels.

*Mend It Better by Kristen M. Roach

**This isn’t the best quality video tutorial on blind stitching, but it was the only one that didn’t make me scream:

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