Saturday, 22 February 2014

Notionally Speaking: Alteration

Welcome back to Notionally Speaking where a fellow blogger writes a post based on a single word sewing related that they randomly selected from a list. That's it, no other guidance - they can take the post in whatever direction they like. This month's post comes from Hannah from Made with Hugs And Kisses who is tackling "alteration". Which direction will she take? Read on to find out and I doubt many of you will disagree...

Notionally Speaking

Who here originally bought their sewing machine with a small, starter project in mind, most likely an alterations project? Perhaps you intended to hem a pair of trousers, take up a dress a few inches or to make a skirt fit a little better?!

Oh I see a few hands go up in the back.

Ok, so perhaps not everyone bought their sewing machine with alterations in mind, but I am pretty darn sure almost everyone has, since purchasing said machine, come across a garment in need of altering. Agreed?


Now my big question is... have you done it yet? Did you ever get around to those pesky trouser hems that scrape along the ground? Did you ever pull that dress out from the back of the wardrobe that you just know will be your go-to dress that you will wear all the time, if only you let out the seams an inch or two?! What about that zip that broke, but you just couldn't bare to throw the garment away because you knew replacing the zip would be a quick and simple job... if only you ever got around to it!

Ahhh, I see a few guilty faces averting eye contact now... just as I thought!

If you are anything like me, you have a rapidly growing pile of projects that will be forever lucky to see the light of day. We all have a fabric pile, and most of us will most likely have a scrap fabric pile... but who here has an alterations pile? Mine is scrunched up behind an old armchair, hidden to the naked eye. But it is still there, forever waiting, forever hoping to be tackled one day!

2014-02-16 23.35.31 2014-02-16 23.35.39

Can you spot it? Behind the big penguin... that black binbag - well it is FULL of alteration projects. And behind that bin bag, well there is another one, equally as big and equally as full!

So, in my moment of honesty, and I am sure you have already come to realise this, I feel relieved to announce that I do not enjoy doing alterations.

Yet people continue to be astounded by my disheartened sigh of frustration whenever they discover that I, in fact, find alterations difficult, disastrous and dull! I much prefer the challenge of a 'make it from scratch' project and find this much more enjoyable and rewarding.

'But you sew?! Of course you won't mind altering all of my clothes for me whenever I ask and in a moments notice!'

Don't comments like this annoy you. I feel like leading them up to my sewing room, showing them the binbags hidden behind the penguin and saying something along the lines of: 'I don't do my own alterations, do you really think I am going to do yours???'


The way I see it... you have several options:

1. Just say no - rude yes, but sometimes people need to be told!
2. Do it, but complete the task so slowly and poorly that word will get round not to bother asking you again! Of course, this is likely to negatively impact your reputation as a credible seamstress, which we don't want.
3. Do it, do it well and come to terms with the fact you are going to be asked to do more... many more!
or my favourite ...
4. Display the following sign for all to see.

seamstress printable aqua

This way if they still insist on asking you then you know they either A. they do not value Michelangelo's work, or B. they clearly don't understand how much you dislike alterations ... in which case both are an abomination and so you have every right to turn them away!

Problem solved :D

But let's think about this rationally, is not wanting to do alterations really a bad thing?

We have taken the time to learn and perfect an impressive skill that allows us to showcase our creativity on daily basis. So why feel guilty that you do not want to take up what little time you manage to get infront of the sewing machine, what with general life being so hectic, fixing a garment that has been mass produced, when you could be creating a masterpiece of your own. After all, at the end of the day, alterations don't quite quench your thirst for sewing now, do they?



  1. I love this Hannah!
    I have a huuuuge pile of alteration projects which is getting bigger and bigger...
    And I've made some alterations for my family. Now they keep asking. When they do I ask them "Are you ok with me cutting this apart and making something new of it? You won't get it back as it is." Not all agree and if they do I gain a new refashion project :)

    1. Oooh I like this approach - a clever idea :D I wouldn't mind if people gave me a garment to refashion - that would be good fun. It is the hemming and mending zips that I find tedious.

  2. I'm actually not too guilty of this! I have perhaps 2 or 3 items waiting for repair/alteration... but since repairing and altering work-wear is my day job I guess it doesn't bother me so much having to fix the odd thing :) I'm far worse for deserting projects at 90% completion when there is something tedious to do such as the dress that just needs the buttons sewing on (to be fair there are 22 buttons involved here!) lying deserted in the corner of my sewing room!

    1. Wow, 22 buttons! impressive, but I can see why you have deserted it.Perhaps you need some incentive - erm... for every 5 buttons you sew on, you get some chocolate :D

  3. Such a great post - I have three items of my youngest sons waiting to be repaired, I have put them right in front of my machine so that I have to do them before I can do anything else!! They are necessary for such but not as exciting as a new project.

    1. Good ideas putting them right infront of your machine. I just hope it doesn't put you off going near your machine completely :D

  4. I can so associate with this! I have about 3 pairs of trousers and a coat that need new zips. I have the zips, and have had since before I started sewing clothes, but they are still not done. I kept offering to sew the buttons back on my boyfriend's coat, but took so long that in the end he gave up and did them himself! I did have a couple of repairs that I'd been putting off for ages though, and it was actually very satisfying when I finally did them - they only took about 5 minutes each!

    1. Haha you really must have left it a long time if he ended up sewing the buttons on himself :D Quick alterations and refashions are the best - I know I will feel much better once I start working on the bin bags full of clothes, it is just a matter of when!!!

  5. A very interesting post. I too hate alterations and tend to leave them as long as I possibly can. I normally find when I DO get round to doing them, they don't take anywhere near as long as I think they're going too. I recently altered the waistband on a skirt that I'd been putting off for about a year - it took me 20 minutes tops!


Do you have thoughts about this post? If so, please leave a comment - I really appreciate them! I read them all and try to reply as much as possible.


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