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kapnoel | Posted in General Discussion on

Dear al

 I know many of you will understand me when I say that I wish the days were longer. As a working mother of three, I dream of whole sewing days (still a luxury for me, but I do not lose hope). Whenever I buy ready to wear, I feel an urge to alter it: either the collar is not the one that looks good on me or the sleeves are to long or too short etc. Can anyone recommend a good book on alterations? I am not looking for weird stuff, but for good professional advice how to alter clothes that will still look “normal” at the end! I am an advanced beginner.

Thanks a lot for your help!




  1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #1

    I learned alterations by trial and error, you pin, chalk your marks and sew, taking the item apart and putting it back together.Practise makes perfect.I've always been in too much a hurry to stop and read. But it could help. Susan

    1. kapnoel | | #2

      Dear Susan,

      Thanks for your answer. Your method is actually the one I use, but I know that a good book could take me further. I have noticed that there are not too many in the market, though. Until I find a useful one, its trial and error, as you say.

      Thanks anyway!


  2. sewchris703 | | #3

    Don't personally know of any good books on alterations, but I do have a suggestion.  Have you thought about apprenticing?  That's how I learned to do alterations.  I was hired by a local sewing shop owned by an Italian woman.  She taught me everything she knew and I've built on that foundation ever since.  I also use my dds as models for altering technics.  1 is short (5'), short waisted with shoulders broader than her back length; the 2nd is also 5', slimmer build, with a sway back and barely an A cup; the 3rd is 5'3" and close to an hour glass figure except her hips are wide.


    1. kapnoel | | #9

      Thanks Chris for this interesting suggestion. I work full time in a totally different job and it would not be possible to take time out to exercise any other professional activity. When I see what my friends pay for minor alterations, it seems to me that, compared to the prices of RTW, a complex alteration would only be affordable if you could do it yourself. Having said that I will keep my eyes open for a chance to learn by doing from a real professional.


  3. Cherrypops | | #4


    I purchased this book and the book for altering menswear from the website ( took me to a secure site).

    I am in Australia and the books were packaged and shipped quickly.

    Emails to the website are answered quickly.

    It may help you out, have a look.

    1. kapnoel | | #10

      Thanks for the link. The book looks a little outdated, is the information contained in the book you have on men s alterations good and useful?

      Thanks in advance for your reply!


  4. Cherlyn | | #5

    There is a product that can be purchased at a reasonable price to test various alterations.  (Sorry I cannot recall the name of it right now).  I have used sewable interfacing before for trials. 

    I would suggest that you purchase a good book ---- I have a Vogue book that I use because the information is layed out well with good graphics.  I have to lengthen all long sleeves because my arms are long.  I altered my oldest daughter's sleeves by width (upper arm) and the lenghth.  I think that it is easier to lengthen than to shorten.  But you might find the opposite true for yourself.  Everyone seems to develop their own way of doing things. 

    I am very different from my mother and she spent hours teaching me everything she knew.  I have surpassed her education because I love creating a personal look.  I get to creating looks and can't sleep because the ideas are just flooding my head and I have to place them on paper! 

    1. kapnoel | | #11

      Thanks for your e-mail. I am looking for a book on alteration of RTW not of patterns. As any sewer, I guess, I alter patterns to fit me best. For this, I mainly use Sandra Betzina´s book "Fast fit-Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure". I have to admit that I also change patterns not because of fit, but because of my need to make clothes that reflect my personal style. My main inspiration for these changes is Threads magazine.

      Best regards



      1. Cherlyn | | #12

        I have been purchasing more Threads magazine too.  However, I have linked on to several sites of independent designers to look at their patterns because they add lines and details in interesting ways. 

        1. kapnoel | | #13

          I would be interested to see what you like: show me your favorite links!


          1. Cherlyn | | #14







            Most of these companies I have purchased some of their patterns.  The only exception is Ottobre Design.  But I enjoy going on the site for ideas.  I love searching through antique shops for laces that are handmade or older.  I especially love the antique Swiss embroidaries and French laces that I find. 

            I have to travel to find any fabric to make garments.  I usually go to Baer Fabrics in Louisville, KY.  However, I have been to Nashville and St Louis.  Baer's has a huge wall of buttons that are unique and add personal style to any garment (a little icing). 

            Whe I taught myself French Handsewing, I started designing and personalizing Christening gowns for people that wanted something special.  I paid for two machines taking orders.  Most of the designs are one of a kind since I don't duplicate. 

            Now, I want to take what I taught myself and apply it to designing clothes for myself.  My mother and I plan on spending the summer working on some projects.  She taught me to sew and I think I have one daughter that will pick this up.  She designs her Belly Dancing costumes.  Both of us go shopping with her teacher and have plans to go to either NY or CA soon. 

            What type of things do you like? 



          2. kapnoel | | #15

            Hi again!

            Thanks for the links, they are all interesting. I sew a lot for my children from ottobre and I love their design. I think you will like that, too. They do sell individual patterns but I have a subscription for both magazines (for children and women). Their designs for women respect the clear lines you seem to like and are very cuttely embellished. Burda is cheap and available everywhere here in Brussels but I do not appreciate their approach: they always reproduce what is the last item seen in the catwalks and this is not what I want to wear.

            There is something you might like for your children:http://www.farbenmix.de/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=356&Itemid=388 (it is a German company)

            I did not directly sew their patterns but go to their site regurarly.

            There are two shops I appreciate in Brussels: one is called Le chien vert (the link is http://www.chienvert.com but it down for the moment. It is an old traditional shop with wonderful interior decoration. They carry really everything and all theater people buy their supplies  from them). The other one does not have an internet presentation, but it is an outlet. When Belgian designers finish their collections, they go and buy what is left from the fabric and they sell it from 1,50 Euro to 10 Euro per meter. It is very funny to buy there, you meet all kinds of design and fashion students who are regular customers and it can very well happen that you see the fabric you just used as really exclusive fashions in avenue Luise.

            Nice talking to you!

            Best regards





  5. jjgg | | #6

    http://www.lindastewartcouturedesigns.com/Go to the link for classes and books. Her CD book is Very good, it will be reviewed in Vogue pattern magazine later this summer

    1. kapnoel | | #7

      Thanks for the link, the book on CD looks interesting although it is not cheap. I would prefer a real book to have next to my machine (and a CD for searching), but this is definitely the kind of book I was looking for!

      Thanks again!


      1. jjgg | | #8

        Yes, it is pricey but was worth it, you can print out the book at kinkos and have it bound

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