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Renovating some jumpers

 
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So, I've been going through my far-too-large wardrobe. Most of it was given me by my shopaholic relatives, who can't miss a good clearance sale.  So much of it is clothes I only half like, and it's pretty mis-matched.  So if I get rid of this shirt, I'll have nothing with this skirt, etc.  So I'm gradually working my way towards a capsule wardrobe, but it's taking a while.  Especially since I only buy new if it's fairtrade(pricey! and not always good quality for all that), and thrift has been very hit- and-miss.  Also, I have lots of synthetic clothing, and much of my natural fiber is knits.  I dislike most knits- they don't age well and some show every bump under your clothing.  I'd really like my wardrobe to 90% natural-fiber wovens- right now its probably 40%, and most of that 40% doesn't fit well.
Anyhow, I've been thinking about some jumpers I own, some I haven't worn in years.  They're all cut very straight but baggy, so the fit is very unflattering, and yet they give you little leg room.  That sounds like they'd be a great candidate to give away.  But here's the thing.  They are all wovens.  Some are pretty nice quality material, and one in particular is a beautiful linen in just the kind of colors are like.  There's also sturdy khaki with some bleach staining, and a couple of denim.  
So, I'm thinking about altering them.  I think I know what I want to do, but I don't really know how to do it.  I want to take in the bodice, raise the waist in some of them, and add godets or panels to the skirt.  I sort of know how to do these things, but I'm certainly not confident.
I've been looking for tutorials.  The upcycling ones seem to be mainly how to tighten/shorten/ add a slit to a skirt. I definitely don't want them shorter. There are tons of tutorials for adding godets, but they all seem to be assuming you are altering a pattern, not an existing garment.
Any hints would be appreciated.
 
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I have done quite a lot of clothing altering.  Due to my size and shape, much has been along the lines of what you want to do.
For taking in, if you don't have a personal body form the easiest way I found was to put the piece on inside out, then use safety pins to get it to the right shape, on at least one side. I'm symmetrical enough that I could then just copy the same level of alteration on the other side.
I generally find that opening at existing seams will let me rebuild with a much cleaner look. I don't have the patience for using a seam ripper but careful use of a sharp razor blade makes fast work of the job. If there is enough excess fabric, just cut the seam out, it saves time and hassle.

Considering that you won't wear them as is, just go ahead and try to do what you want. For me, knowing that the starting pieces are low-value gives me "permission" to try and possibly fail, even if the actual failure rate is very low.
Also, I wouldn't stress too much on how things look on the insides, at least to start. Messy looking seams still hold together well and you can work on making them better once you are comfortable in the process.

Adding panels in the side seams is an easy way to enlarge rather than godets, but it's a different look.
I've had good success with adding the bottoms of thrifted skirts to shirts and dresses that were too short. Much easier than building from scratch.

 
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First thought:  to make these more flattering can you just cinch them in at the waist with a belt or sash?  No belt loops needed.  I have a narrow purple belt just for wearing with my shift dresses to show that I still have a waist

In my opinion, a short slit at the back or side of the skirt ought to give it enough movement for walking, and be the easiest and least obtrusive of any alteration.  
 
Elena Wulf
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I actually love to belt my lighter weight dresses, but these are pretty bulky/stiff.  
I really want a more flowy skirt- well, as flowy as I can get with fabrics like this.    I really dislike slits.
 
G Freden
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Elena Wulf wrote:I actually love to belt my lighter weight dresses, but these are pretty bulky/stiff.  
I really want a more flowy skirt- well, as flowy as I can get with fabrics like this.    I really dislike slits.



If you are set on changing the skirts, is it possible to combine them?  Are there two that are the same, or similar enough that you can take the skirt off one to combine it with another?  

To me, it sounds like they aren't your style and will require a lot of alteration as they are.  Maybe you can take them apart completely and recut (and/or combine) to a pattern of your choosing?
 
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I'm thinking you're not meaning what I am when you say 'jumper'. To me it means a knitted sweater of some kind, but you sound like you want to adjust a dress?

I found a tutorial here on inserting godets. I suspect the only difference will be deciding where you want them to extend to and slitting and finishing the seam at that point. If you are altering the waist and bodice that would have to come first I expect, otherwise the start point will be different.

this skirt has silk panels inserted into a heavier weight fabric, but the effect is more kilt-like than 'swirling' I think. Probably the closer the inset fabric matches in weight the more swirl you will get. Mind you, if you get a twirl on, those panels might radiate out OK!
 
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Considering that you won't wear them as is, just go ahead and try to do what you want. For me, knowing that the starting pieces are low-value gives me "permission" to try and possibly fail, even if the actual failure rate is very low.  


My suggestion is start with one you don't like much. That way you make your mistakes on your lowest ranked one, not a better one.
 
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Go for it, Elena - this from someone who's been struggling, to turn an antique silk kimono into a skirt and succeeding! (but I admit the stakes are much higher than your project, and I've had trusted friends to support me as I periodically freaked out about the whole project - permies is here to support your efforts!)

1. A picture would be *really* helpful. As Pearl suggested, take a picture of your least liked one, therefore best one to start experimenting on. Ideally take pictures of it on you and off you, and don't feel bad if you do it only from the shoulders down as some of us on permies don't show our faces for "reasons".
2. We could uses some measurements: A)How many inches does the bodice need to come in?
B) How many inches does the bottom of the skirt need to go out?
3. What sort of budget are you working on? If you need to buy a yard of compatible fabric to fix the skirt, is that OK? If you have to find something else in your closet as donor material, are you OK with that?
4. What are your tastes and needs? Are you looking for "professional office wear" or "office casual"? Are you looking to wear them for partying? It doesn't sound like you're making these for farm clothes... but some us on permies do just that!

Looking at the picture Nancy posted, I immediately thought of a skirt I'd seen made out of silk ties. Can you imagine finding enough silk ties in an appropriate colour to insert as godets into that linen jumper you mention? I wouldn't suggest making a plan like that for your first attempt!

It would also be helpful to know what equipment and skills you already have. I learned to sew almost completely on a machine, and have been learning hand-sewing as an adult, practising on things that weren't publicly visible, such as cotton jersey underwear because I hate the feel of spandex. This has been tremendously helpful with my kimono project, because I don't trust me and my machine to handle such slippery fabric. Also, kimonos are traditionally hand sewn, so I felt I should honour that tradition while upcycling it.

 
Elena Wulf
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Here's one.  Please ignore the wet spot
IMG_20240326_152137466.jpg
Ugly jumper
Ugly jumper
 
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As a teen my grandmother helped me alter one of the dresses to fit me.

I put the dress on the wrong side out then my grandmother pinned the side to fit me.

It was easy then to stitch the sides.

That jumper looks like it would be easy to take in however many inches would be needed.

If you wanted it to look professionally done the seems could be undone then put back the right way.
 
Jay Angler
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Elena Wulf wrote:Here's one.  Please ignore the wet spot

Is the gather at your waist?
How loose is it across the bust?
What colours would you like to add to it?
Do you like the length, or could it be longer?

Why do I ask? What I see is taking it apart at the gather. Put darts from the waist upwards to give you some breast definition. Find a complimentary pattern of cotton fabric that you like. Take a strip of it to make a waistband. Take smaller strips to add to the tops of the pockets to make them more obvious. Then use more of it to adjust the skirt larger. These can be triangular as godets, or since it's off the bodice, they can be straight or slightly angled sections from the waist down with the waist gathered to meet the bodice.

To me, simply taking in the side seam isn't going to give you breast definition the way darts would. So it comes down to your goals, and your body shape. To me, the fabric appears fairly light-weight and flexible, so even something like bright cotton scarves could provide donor material, so long as they aren't the super-cheap ones. Quilting cotton would also work.
 
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I think I used to own that one, Elena! If I still had it, quite honestly, I'd likely just add some pockets and loops, and wear it as a house-dress & for my farm work - or I'd leave it be to wear when I'm working in the kitchen, at church.

That said, this one has quite a bit of potential, for alterations, too. Is this one of those that you want to take in the bodice? Shorten, or add godets, or...? You'd mentioned several different options, so I'm looking for your direction. Jay asked what your end use would be - that would be super helpful.
 
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Elena Wulf wrote:I want to take in the bodice, raise the waist in some of them, and add godets or panels to the skirt.  



Is the dress supposed to be worn over a shirt underneath? The armholes are very deep. If you take out some length off the shoulder straps it will raise both the waistline and armholes. Since it has no dart, you will need some ease across the bust area while taking in the sides. As for godets, yes it's harder to do without as in a paneled skirts. Test on fabric scraps first. It's a bit like adding placket to a sleeve but with triangle insert. I would use fusible interfacing to reinforce the end point of the slash too.





 
Elena Wulf
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Nancy Reading wrote:I'm thinking you're not meaning what I am when you say 'jumper'. To me it means a knitted sweater of some kind, but you sound like you want to adjust a dress?n



Yes, jumper in the American use of the term, a sleeveless dress intended to be worn over a blouse.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumper_(dress)

Thanks for the link.  I'll check that out.
 
Elena Wulf
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Carla Burke wrote:I think I used to own that one, Elena! If I still had it, quite honestly, I'd likely just add some pockets and loops, and wear it as a house-dress & for my farm work - or I'd leave it be to wear when I'm working in the kitchen, at church.

That said, this one has quite a bit of potential, for alterations, too. It's this one of those that you want to take in the bodice? Souderton, or add godets, or...? You'd mentioned several different options, so I'm looking for your direction. Jay asked what your end use would be - that would be super helpful.



Yes, it's meant to be comfortable to wear, but I find the combination of bulky fit/short stride in the skirt, to not be very comfortable.  Hence the plan to alter.   This one is probably my least favorite, so I'll experiment on it first.  What I use it for will depend on how well it turns out...
 
Elena Wulf
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Jay Angler wrote:Go for it, Elena - this from someone who's been struggling, to turn an antique silk kimono into a skirt and succeeding! (but I admit the stakes are much higher than your project, and I've had trusted friends to support me as I periodically freaked out about the whole project - permies is here to support your efforts!)

1. A picture would be *really* helpful. As Pearl suggested, take a picture of your least liked one, therefore best one to start experimenting on. Ideally take pictures of it on you and off you, and don't feel bad if you do it only from the shoulders down as some of us on permies don't show our faces for "reasons".
2. We could uses some measurements: A)How many inches does the bodice need to come in?
B) How many inches does the bottom of the skirt need to go out?
3. What sort of budget are you working on? If you need to buy a yard of compatible fabric to fix the skirt, is that OK? If you have to find something else in your closet as donor material, are you OK with that?
4. What are your tastes and needs? Are you looking for "professional office wear" or "office casual"? Are you looking to wear them for partying? It doesn't sound like you're making these for farm clothes... but some us on permies do just that!

Looking at the picture Nancy posted, I immediately thought of a skirt I'd seen made out of silk ties. Can you imagine finding enough silk ties in an appropriate colour to insert as godets into that linen jumper you mention? I wouldn't suggest making a plan like that for your first attempt!

It would also be helpful to know what equipment and skills you already have. I learned to sew almost completely on a machine, and have been learning hand-sewing as an adult, practising on things that weren't publicly visible, such as cotton jersey underwear because I hate the feel of spandex. This has been tremendously helpful with my kimono project, because I don't trust me and my machine to handle such slippery fabric. Also, kimonos are traditionally hand sewn, so I felt I should honour that tradition while upcycling it.



Thanks for the support!  I'll try to answer your questions now.
First of all, I have some sewing experience, but not a lot with garments- more like dolls or fingerpuppets.  I have sewn a couple skirts, a bra, and a couple of random things. I do not really like sewing machines, though I will use one if I have a long line of stitching to do.  It doesn't help that our sewing machine is pretty cantankerous.   I have a terrible time understanding patterns, nor am I good with just winging it.  But I am hoping I can get somewhere with remodeling these.  

I'll try it on shortly to see how much to take in the bodice.  I don't want it very fitted, just reduce some bulk.  I don't know about the skirt hem.
I don't want to spend much money, as this is an experiment.  I'm thinking about getting a man's dress shirt at our local thrift shop to cut up.  However, if something brilliant came up that involved buying fabric, I'd be willing.  I also do have a fair amount of scraps.
As for what I'd use it for, it depends how it comes out.  I quite a few nice Sunday dresses/skirts/blouses, and quite a few really disreputable house-wear only items.  I'd like some more nice-but-casual stuff.  I have two part time jobs where it doesn't matter a whole lot what I wear( janitor and cook) but I'd like a few more respectable looking options.
 
Elena Wulf
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Jay Angler wrote:

Elena Wulf wrote:Here's one.  Please ignore the wet spot

Is the gather at your waist?
How loose is it across the bust?
What colours would you like to add to it?
Do you like the length, or could it be longer?

Why do I ask? What I see is taking it apart at the gather. Put darts from the waist upwards to give you some breast definition. Find a complimentary pattern of cotton fabric that you like. Take a strip of it to make a waistband. Take smaller strips to add to the tops of the pockets to make them more obvious. Then use more of it to adjust the skirt larger. These can be triangular as godets, or since it's off the bodice, they can be straight or slightly angled sections from the waist down with the waist gathered to meet the bodice.

To me, simply taking in the side seam isn't going to give you breast definition the way darts would. So it comes down to your goals, and your body shape. To me, the fabric appears fairly light-weight and flexible, so even something like bright cotton scarves could provide donor material, so long as they aren't the super-cheap ones. Quilting cotton would also work.



I'm not sure about the colors.  I prefer softer colors.  If your familiar with color seasons, I'm a Soft Autumn.  Leaning towards some olive green or brown, but I'll have to see what I find.
I would like it a little longer.  I thought about raising the waist by just moving up the buttons, but that makes the hem go to just below my knees, which I don't like.  Unless I add a ruffle at the bottom- but I'm afraid of making it look too juvenile.
I think I will end up taking it apart, like you say.  Thankfully, I like using the seam ripper.  
 
Jay Angler
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Elena Wulf wrote:  I'm thinking about getting a man's dress shirt at our local thrift shop to cut up.  However, if something brilliant came up that involved buying fabric, I'd be willing.  I also do have a fair amount of scraps.

From the look of the fabric, a man's dress shirt would likely do a great job. Long sleeves if available, as there's a *lot* of fabric in sleeves and it's already sort of triangular for expanding the skirt  for more fullness.

I don't much go for ruffles either, so adding gores or godets sounds like the approach that would fit your style. From my experience, gores from the waist would be the easier sewing job, when you don't have a pattern. Less likely to end up with bulges where you don't want them.

Keeping some gather at the waist would also likely be the easier to sew as it would be more forgiving if the math doesn't add up quite right. Unless you can add enough material that some spaced pleats at the waist would work and please you - harder than gathers, but if you think you want pleats on some of your nicer jumpers, best to practice on this one!
 
Dian Green
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I'm attaching some pictures of a few of my shirt-to-dress alters. All used thrifted skirts that were added to the bottoms of shirts to get them to my preferred length.
You can see on the first one how the bottom of the sleeve and cuff were used to widen the shirt over my hips.
The second one was taken in slightly at the waist, both at the side seams and with darts along the front. You can see where in the plaid pattern.
It's all machine sewing, but simple, straight lines for the most part.

IMG_2663.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_2663.JPG]
IMG_2664.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_2664.JPG]
IMG_2665.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_2665.JPG]
 
Elena Wulf
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Dian Green- very nice!  I particularly like the last one.


So, I went to our town thrift shop this morning( limited selection and very limited hours, but dirt cheap) and picked up several men's shirts.  I was quite excited to start, but I realize I have a more pressing sewing project I need to investigate first- that will be another thread, however.
Thanks everyone for all the help!  I hope I can come back to this shortly.
 
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Elena Wulf wrote: Thanks everyone for all the help!  I hope I can come back to this shortly.

When you do, please take lots of before/during/after pictures so that people can learn from your successes (yes, we also like failures so we can learn from others' mistakes, but I want you going into this believing you will be happy with the results!)
 
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Elena Wulf wrote:Yes, jumper in the American use of the term, a sleeveless dress intended to be worn over a blouse.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumper_(dress)



Thank you. That's pretty much what I had assumed. I think I'd call this a pinafore dress. :)

I think if you have the length of spare material putting in extra seams from the waist may be neatest.
Have fun, treat it as a learning experience, and let us know how you get on!
 
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Elena Wulf wrote:Here's one.  Please ignore the wet spot



One idea with less trouble than gores could be to slit the sides of the skirt, and insert rectangular panel into each side to make more room for walking without changing the drape. So what you would do is
1. cut a rectangular piece of cloth the length of the skirt and as wide as you'd like to expand the circumference of the skirt. For example, 1 foot on each side for a total of 2 feet wider.
2. sew each side of the rectangle to the corresponding side of the skirt, leaving a big flap in the middle under the armpits.
3, fold each rectangle to make a pleat on each side of the skirt—half to the back and half to the front might be best, but you could try folding the whole rectangle to to the front, or to the back.
4. sew the top edge of the folded pleat to the top edge of the skirt.
(5. you could also insert a pocket into the seam if you wanted to.)

Then maybe either make darts in the bodice for shaping, with a mini-pleat in the skirt under each dart, or maybe just put in an elastic at the seam between bodice and skirt.

Attached are pictures, from outside & inside, of something similar I did with just one retangle to make more room for movement in the back of a shirt.
IMG_1130.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1130.JPG]
IMG_1132.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1132.JPG]
 
Elena Wulf
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Anna Demb wrote:

Elena Wulf wrote:Here's one.  Please ignore the wet spot



One idea with less trouble than gores could be to slit the sides of the skirt, and insert rectangular panel into each side to make more room for walking without changing the drape. So what you would do is
1. cut a rectangular piece of cloth the length of the skirt and as wide as you'd like to expand the circumference of the skirt. For example, 1 foot on each side for a total of 2 feet wider.
2. sew each side of the rectangle to the corresponding side of the skirt, leaving a big flap in the middle under the armpits.
3, fold each rectangle to make a pleat on each side of the skirt—half to the back and half to the front might be best, but you could try folding the whole rectangle to to the front, or to the back.
4. sew the top edge of the folded pleat to the top edge of the skirt.
(5. you could also insert a pocket into the seam if you wanted to.)

Then maybe either make darts in the bodice for shaping, with a mini-pleat in the skirt under each dart, or maybe just put in an elastic at the seam between bodice and skirt.

Attached are pictures, from outside & inside, of something similar I did with just one retangle to make more room for movement in the back of a shirt.



Thanks.  It looks good.  When I get back to this project I'll have to look into that.
 
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Box pleats do seem like a neat way to go! I may try that, on a couple things, myself... Particularly on tops - maybe on shirts or pant legs. Definitely something to think about.
 
Jay Angler
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A mini-gusset for more circumference just below my waist:


More pictures and explanations are here: https://permies.com/wiki/151797/pep-textiles/Alter-Waist-Pants-Skirt-PEP
 
May Lotito
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I saw long dresses in this style in the thrift store, maybe from the 90's. The fabric is cotton seersucker. How did people style with these back then? The entire bar band is showing and I don't think there is enough room for another layer.
Resized_20240418_214143.jpeg
Cotton jumper dresses
Cotton jumper dresses
20240418_214314.jpg
Low armholes
Low armholes
 
Anna Demb
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I bet they wern't wearing a bra. But to fix it, maybe shorten the dress a little and use the cut-off to make the bottom of the armhole higher. I think I have done that.
 
Jay Angler
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Some people might have worn them with the sort of tank-top/sports bra type thing that was OK to show.

That said, are you sure they were intended as a dress rather than a plain summer nightgown?
 
May Lotito
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There are quite a few of this type of dress secondhand online and the sellers call them sleeveless jumper dress, usually in maxi length too. I already redid the light blue one by removing 10" /25 cm from the hem and turning the fabric into sleeves. Looks like a wearable shirtdress now.
ETA
It's inspired by a kinomo sleeve boxy top with underarm gusset in this blog Such a design is more common in vintage patterns but kind of hard to find nowadays.

It takes three pattern pieces for this dress: front panel with sleeve, back panel with skeeve and a long gusset from waist to underarm to sleeve. I cut the side seams open and used scrap fabric to test first. Then I marked should point and armhole position and made minor adjustments. The shapes of pieces are outlined in the photos.
20240420_135207.jpg
Adding gusseted cut-on sleeves
Adding gusseted cut-on sleeves
Resized_20240420_203350.jpeg
Inside view back panel
Inside view back panel
Resized_20240420_203431.jpeg
Inside view gusset
Inside view gusset
 
Jay Angler
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May Lotito wrote:It takes three pattern pieces for this dress: front panel with sleeve, back panel with sleeve and a long gusset from waist to underarm to sleeve. I cut the side seams open and used scrap fabric to test first. Then I marked shoulder point and armhole position and made minor adjustments. The shapes of pieces are outlined in the photos.

Great pictures and great link, May!

It's amazing how efficiently one can use fabric once we learn how to use gussets effectively! Sleeves take a lot of fabric if done the usual pattern way - one solid piece in other words. This is a great tool in the upcycling clothing tool-box!
 
May Lotito
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Plaid shirt and denim go very well together. I am wondering if you like it this way as shown in the picture. Cut part of the lower skirt off but keep the original button placket. Cut skirt and shirt fabrics into equal numbers of long strips. Piecing the rectangles together and it will be wider than the original skirt. Gather and sew back on to the dress. Maybe add matching patch pockets to echo the design.
20240421_192804.jpg
Jumper renovation idea
Jumper renovation idea
 
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