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altering school uniform

busybee | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi everybody – I need help. My grandaughter is going to senior school and needs the sleeves of her ( very expensive ! ) school blazer extensively shortened. My daughter very confidently assured the salesman that her Mother would know exactly what to do, he having offered their alteration service. Although I have sewn for many years and done many alterations I have no experience in allowing for growth. The salesmen was most concerned that I would know how to deal with it without a line of any sort showing when eventually let down and he also mentioned something about the underarm- something happening up there.  My daughter didn,t pay much attention to it so confident was she !!!!!. Does anybody know the official way to deal with this- anybody been involved in alterations for schools outfitters etc? I would be so grateful to hear from you or alternatively where else I could ask?  Many thanks Busy Bee



  1. ella | | #1

    Hello Busybee, Sorry I can't help with "how to", but may I suggest  that your daughter and granddaughter, plus jacket and receipt, go back to the shop, and say she's changed her mind, would they please alter it. Alterations to expensive garments are often done free of charge. Best wishes for a successful outcome - do let us know . Ella

    1. busybee | | #3

      Thanks Ella and Msm-s for your advice. I probablt will have to do just that. Still, if anyone does know the alteration required I'd love to know - for my archives you know!!!  Now, about that cruise.................. Love Busy Bee

      1. User avater
        CostumerVal | | #4

        Is there a vent at the cuff?  If not:

        Remove the buttons and turn the sleeve inside out.  Open up about 5" in the lining seam.  Pull the cuff inside out through the hole.  Rip out any tacking threads and find the seamline for lining to jacket cuff.  Measure up the amount to be shortened and stitch.  Turn the sleeve right side out and close up the hole in the lining.  The lining has already been designed to pull up the cuff and all you have to do is make a tack at the seam allowance.

        A couple of things.  You may need to add interfacing to the new cuff line if your shortening it above the existing interfacing.  And there will be some bulk in the cuff if your shortening it more than say 2"

        If the sleeves have vents,  it's complicated.   Val

        1. busybee | | #6

          Hi, Everyone, also Costumerval Thanks so much for your replies - very much appreciated. In reply to costumerval, the directions received are actually well known to me as I do alterations for people and sleeves come into it many times. What concerned me was the letting down eventually process which for me has only been my childrens dresses etc and there's always been a line where the original hem wasd which I covered with a trim or whatever. This was what the salesman was on about - no line to show when let down. I dont see how you can avoid this even if you dont press it. Presumably there,s a special way of doing it - if nothing further comes thru on the posts I will decline with thanks but she,s 200 miles away and I,ll have to get it back in time for the shop to do it in time I expect they,re very busy - will no doubt have to post it. Why does life produce such hassle. !!!   love Busy Bee

          1. user-51823 | | #7

            if you do alterations, you probably know this:
            press out old cuff hem folds by spritzing with water mist, laying a damp pressing cloth (i use muslin) over, and pressing long and hard with a very hot iron. frequently use a pressing block, immediately. it may take numerous passes and re-moistening the cuff and the pressing cloth. use the pressing block, though, and it will work.letting out cuffs can show that the outer sleeve has faded or become sort of dingy compared to the fresh fabric in the new longer hem; that may be the bigger problem. be sure to have the sleeves as clean as possible before you press.i think it's so funny that your daughter still opted to send you the jacket to alter even when you live so far away! it's sweet :-)

          2. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #8

            I think viable options for fade would be to carefully recolor it with dyes, inks, or watered down fabric paint.   I haven't tried D'UVA but they have a pigment powder that you brush on and then iron to fix.  The powder is water soluble so it can be rinsed out if it doesn't match.  You would obviously have to do alot of experimenting with this in different mediums on different fabrics. 

          3. user-51823 | | #9

            these fixes would certainly work well for the stage, but i would be concerned about real-life use. it would be extremely difficult, if possible at all, to match it imperceptably. i am an artist, and also do wardrobe work on productions coming thru town; i have worked on a few movies-- my point is i have some experience, as you do. i would not try it without a scrap of the same fabric to experiment with, possible the store that sold the blazer could provide one. i think it would be preferable to just keep the cuffs as clean as possible. if the dress code allows, maybe the DGD could wear her jacket sleeves rolled up? ;-)

          4. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #10

            I agree, it will never be like new again, no matter what kind of tricks you use.  It would be nice to have RTW supply some matching scraps, but unfortunately mass production doesn't work that way.  Oh, well.  What city do you work in?

          5. busybee | | #12

            Hi Costumerval,

            Thanks so much for all your help. I,ve got it all clearer in my mind now and will go for it. We,ll  " cross the line " !!  when we come to it.

            I,m in the UK.  Near a city called Peterborough about 150 miles north from London. Great problems with decent fabric shops and hardly worth going to London nowadays. Several shops within a journey of 2 and a half hours so I suppose I shouldn,t complain. It always seem to me that there are such alot of shops in  USA but I dont think I really appreciate the distances involved. Have 3 married daughters ( made all the gear ) and 6 grandchildren 3 of each . Love the gatherings posts & have learnt a lot. A little disappointed in the current issue - not really into vintage or aprons- nevertheless read from cover to cover.  Thanks again and tell me where you are ?   Busy Bee

          6. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #13

            I'm in Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia.  I'm getting a little panicky in that the small family owned sewing shops are closing up so are their store front shops where they sell the extra's.  I do however, have a shop still open in Lansdale (45 min. ride) that stocks end rolls for a mill that is still open.  I get wool and linen for $4.00/yard and silk for $6.00.  Only thing is,  you never know what they've got or when it will be gone.   The entire basement is $1.00/yd and there are rolls piled up the wall.  No fabric content or labels.  At this price I feel free to experiment with anything.  If I ruin a jacket and lining I just consider it a $10.00 sewing lesson.  I'm spoiled rotten and when this place closes I am in big trouble. 

          7. Ralphetta | | #14

            Oh-h, that brings back memories of what it used to be like in my city!  I miss all that.  The greatest bargains were at the manufacturer's outlets.  When the manufacturers closed/moved, the basements with $1.00 fabrics, went with them.

          8. User avater
            suesewing | | #16

            Hi CostumerVal; I think I know the outlet store you mean.  I haven't been there in a long time- it is just north of the Montgomery Mall.  There are no good fabric stores around where I live in Bucks county.  I can find quilting fabric.  I have gone down to Philly to 4th street.  There is also a small store in Bensalem who has sales four times yearly where you can find upolstery fabric and clothing fabric on sale from 2 to 4 dollars a yard.  I am on their mailing list and only go then.  I really wish there was a good fabric store for sewing clothes in the burbs- I hate JoAnn's

          9. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #17

            Ditto on JoAnns.  I have very sad news.  JoMar is closing their doors at the Lansdale location where they sold all the fabric runs from the mills.  Now they just have the resale shop in the city.  BooHoo.  Guess I'm going to have to learn how to fabric shop by email.  I know the place your talking about on 309.  I was in there a year or two ago and they had mens suiting and curtain sheers.  I think they closed also.  Haven't tried a city run.  Is there real linen and silk and wool on 4th st.?

        2. busybee | | #15

          Hallo costumerval and All.  I would like to thank you all again for your help and particularly costumerval.  I suddenly remembered I had Mary Rohr's book on alterations and it was similar to yours. I decided to go for it although a distinct challenge.  Felt a bit nervous with the first sleeve but second one much more speedy. I had to shorten 4 inches ( without cutting any off although I doubt whether she,ll ever need all 4 inches back again. Her parents arenot tall )as Emily is quite small for her age ( 11 )  That meant new interfacing and reducing the seams a little bit too. Then I couldn't get the cuff over the arm of my machine  other than about an inch !  So I had to undo one of the side seams to do the machine stitching. Quite a big job in the end but a great learning curve. Basically quite simple!!!!!   Anyway it looks great on her and today I had two beautiful bunches of roses in the post with a Thankyou card. Thought I must have forgotten it was my birthday !!  All the best Busybee


      2. user-51823 | | #5

        as costumerval has described, it's not a terribly hard process. but since it's an expensive garment and the alterations are likely done free, i would definitely turn it over to the store to do. you have better things to do with your time :-)
        BTW, i worked as seamstress on a movie for 3 months where my job was resizing vintage men's suits for the extras for practically the whole time. same suits got made bigger>smaller> bigger>smaller over and over. i did cuffs til i wanted to scream. again, it's not hard, but i guessw i developed a loathing for that job!

  2. user-51823 | | #2

    ITA with ella. the store had a service and have done so many of the same design it will be done right, and with ease. i'm sure your daughter was turning them down because she was so proud of how well you sew. thank her and let her tell the salesman you can't because you are off on a cruise :-)growing old is inevitable. acting old is optional.

    Edited 7/15/2007 5:42 pm ET by msm-s

  3. Minnie63 | | #11

    Have them bring it back to the store! No worry about doing it right, let them do it.

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