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need advice for altering ready to wear

sbk | Posted in General Sewing Info on


I’m new to this forum and to Threads.  I am hoping to develop some latent (hopefully) skills.  I also would like to learn to alter some of my ready to wear clothing for a better fit.  Does anyone have a good tip or two for altering a knit shift so that the raglan sleeves fit better on my shoulders?  I’m rather narrow shouldered so most garmets hang off my shoulder.  The dress I want to alter is a double knit with no princess seaming or darts–basically a shift. Any advice will be much appreciated.



  1. suesew | | #1

    Welcome. No one seems to be coming to your aid so I'll give it a try. Raglans sometimes have a seam from the neckline over the shoulder and down the center of the sleeve that curves where it tries to fit where the shoulder ends. I would think you could take in the existing seam or create a seam that would sit on your own unique shoulders better. Can you pinch fabric and pin it and create a better fit. If that works, turn that into a seam.

    1. sbk | | #2

      Thanks for the tip.   I'll give it a try.

      1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #3

        whenever I alter for myself , since its awkward to pin oneself , I machine baste first in case its tight .Sure is easier to take those big stitches out !

        1. sbk | | #4

          Yes, that is an excellent idea.

  2. mem | | #5

    I would use a shoulder pad but it has to be a raglan one also you could sew a dart from the neckline outalong the center of the sleeve tappering to nothing a few inches beyond the shoulder point. I have shoulders like yours and I avoid Raglans as I think that ist hard to get them to look good .

    1. sbk | | #6

      Thanks for the tip. 

  3. Teaf5 | | #7

    To alter a knit shift dress, it might be easiest to put it on inside out, and use regular or safety pins to create the new shoulder seam as suggested earlier--if your shoulders are relatively symmetrical. 

    If the raglan sleeves are cut separate from the body of the dress, you can use the sleeve seam to take in excess fabric, also.

    If the dress is extremely large on you, you can use take it apart and use it as fabric for a similar pattern that you know fits you.  Since it's hard to find quality knit yardage, I've often used oversized, discount garments as fabric for a pattern that I like.  It's surprisingly quick to remove the commercial seams, press the pieces, and start from scratch!

    1. sbk | | #8

      Great suggestions!  Thanks.

      1. Teaf5 | | #9

        Let us know what you end up doing; other people's successes are very inspiring!

        1. sbk | | #12

          I'll remember that!

  4. MaryinColorado | | #10

    Hi!  I am new to this forum also.  I have small shoulders too.  For knits I usually use my serger.  I have had luck with tucks, not just the pressed over pintuck type, but with the rolled hem on the serger.  This is done on the right side of the fabric.  Good luck.  I am hoping for more ideas on this.

    1. sbk | | #11

      Thanks.  I don't use a serger but I'll keep this in mind if that changes sometime down the road.

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