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Altering a Waist for a Smaller Fit
Although this alteration is performed on a pair of shorts, the same procedure can be used to reduce any basic garment that has an interfaced waistband. This includes simply constructed, plain-fabric clothing, including:
Understand that the waistband is the last piece that gets sewn onto a garment, and the ideal way to alter this would be to take the entire skirt or pair of slacks apart and recut all the pieces to maintain proportions. However, the ideal method is quite time consuming and the waistband is often covered by a top or a belt. So, two insignificant side seams on the waistband itself do not pose an issue. Where it may be necessary to alter the inner leg, this alteration method alone will not work..
Assessing the Garment
Problem: The dieter's favorite shorts that fit a few months ago now have an excess of three inches (3") at the waist.
Solution: A decision is made to take the side seams in three-fourths inches (3/4") for a better fit.
Seamstress' note: At first, a 3/4" intake may sound insufficient, but remember that the front and back on both sides entails four pieces. So, actually a three-fourths intake on each piece makes a three-inch total intake overall. (3/4" X 4 = 3")
The Basic Interfaced Waistband
Using a good seam ripper, remove stitching at the base of the waistband only 2-3" on each side of the point where it joins the side seams. Do not take the entire waistband apart. If necessary, completely open the waistband in the targeted area at the top as well. (The most basic construction will not require any opening at the top.)
Seamstress' note: As it turns out, this particular waistband construction is more complicated, having additional border trim at the top and bottom.
Be sure to remove all loose threads and raveled frays. Taking the time to do this will make reconstruction easier and the end result of sewing will be a more professional look.
Partly Opening the Hem
Remove the stitching 2-3 inches in the hem on either side of where the side seam meets it. You do NOT need to open the entire hem.
The Side Seam
Now you are ready to completely open the side seam. Once you've done this, you will again remove any loose thread from the removed stitching, as well as fabric frays.
You may press out the old creases for easier handling.
Tip: If you have good, sharp fabric scissors like Fiskars and a steady hand, you may SKIP opening the side seam with a seam ripper and simply CUT OPEN the seam carefully on the innermost stitch line. Since you are taking the seam in anyway, you will not need this additional fabric and cutting the seam off to open it will save you some time. A rotary cutter will work also.
Pinning and Marking for the New Seam
With the right sides of the fabric together, realign the side seam edges. From the innermost stitching line (you'll be able to see where the old stitching was), measure to where your new seam will be--in this case it is 3/4".
Tip: If you've cut open the seam, you won't need to look for the old stitching at all--just measure your where your seam will be from the raw edge. Advanced: If you are adept at gaging seam allowances by eye and know the markings on the table of your sewing machine, you can skip measuring.
Choosing the Thread and Setting the Stitch Style
Sew the Side Seam
Trim the excess fabric from the seam but do NOT cut any of the stitching.
Taking in the Waistband, Trim, and Facing
Now the waistband and accompanying parts need to be reduced as well. Fold the waistband inward so its right sides will be together. If you do this in alignment with the side seam, it will look like part of the seam. To keep seams from getting too bulky, the decorative trims and facing can be sewn in a manner such that the seams of these do not meet. The facing remains inside the waistband and is not seen, so it doesn't matter where the new facing seam falls.
Finish the waistband.
Finishing the Project
With the layers all I aligned, I sewed the top section of the waistband first, followed by the bottom seam of the waistband. With this styled construction, the order of the sewing could be done either way. Keeping in the style of the garment's original stitching, I used a straight stitch to attach the waistband to the body of the shorts.
In simpler construction designs, often a small whip stitch or blind hem stitch is done on the inside of the waistband to keep it in place.
Let Me Know
This was a rather complicated alteration, but did you find this hub useful?
From my experience, Gutermann is the best thread on the market.
© 2013 Marie Flint