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RTW alteration help needed!

nmog | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

I purchased a beautiful lined stretch cotton jacket yesterday, and I am hoping that it can be altered. The sleeve cap is too tight for my big biceps, and there is about 1/2 inch seam allowance all around. If I use a smaller seam allowance will there be an ‘original’ press line left?

I am hoping to do this with a minimum of fuss, else I will need to give it to my sister who is one size smaller….And she has all the nice clothes already!



  1. spicegirl | | #1

    Letting out a 1/2" seam allowance isn't going to give you much to work with.  Would an extra 1/4" more, or less be any more comfortable?  If so, I would open a small area first and test it will a press cloth and iron.

    I am sure you will get more suggestions and "sleeping on it" sometimes brings forth the most brilliant ideas!

  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    If it is a stretch fabric and has very much Lycra in it, couldn't you just carefully stretch  it?  My favorite kind of control top pantyhose had one flaw...the waist elastic was so tight in a new pair that I was absolutely miserable.  When I opened a new package, I would just stretch them over the end of the ironing board and carefully use a hot iron on the stretched elastic to "kill" some of the tension..worked great.  If you stretched the sleeve cap over a tailor's ham and worked with it, I bet you could enlarge i, (providing it has more than an itty-bitty amount of Lycra.) It would need to be removed from the lining and the lining would need to be enlarged.

    That reminds me of a question I've always had.  Why do they line a stretch fabric jacket?  The lining doesn't give, so what is the point of using a stretch fabric?

    1. MaryinColorado | | #9

      Be sure to use a press cloth!  The reasons for lining would be to help support the garment's shape, such as avoiding baggy knees and wherever there would be strain.  Threads just did an article on this very thing.  Mary

      1. nmog | | #11

        I always *try* to remember a press cloth, but sometimes I rush too much. Thanks for the tip!Nicole

  3. From my Stash.... | | #3

    Your problem got me thinking - it's quite possible that the original stitching/press line may still be visible. Taking a small seam allowance may work, but doesn't leave you much sa left if movement is tight (particularly in the lining). Another alternative may be an underarm gusset in a complementary fabric and colour. Since it would be in the underarm seam and side seam and wouldn't need to be very big, this may work. 

    Let us know this works out.

    1. krichmond | | #4

      When you say the jacket is tight around the bicep, do you mean the armhole itself also feels too small?  Or does is it just the  upper portion of the sleeve that feels too tight?  Is the problem exacerbated when you bring your arms forward (like when driving a car)?  How many seams in the sleeve (i.e. one piece or two piece sleeve).  Is the lining also a stretch fabric?  Also, are the affected seams all serged and is there an easy way to gain entry into the area to be altered (usually a straight-stitched closure in the sleeve lining)?  Sorry to inundate you with so many questions.

      1. nmog | | #5

        It's a two piece sleeve, so I thought that I could take out a bit from both the top and bottom parts. The problem is mostly when I move my arms forward, like you suggested. After thinking about it for a bit I decided to see if I could find some complementary fabric, take the sleeve out entirely and then reset the sleeve with an inch of the new fabric between the original pieces. The jacket has lots of ruffles and texture so I thought that I could just add my own between the sleeve and add a bit more room that way. I think that lowering the sleeve just that inch may give me enough wiggle room so that I don't need to fiddle with the 2 part sleeve.I've got lots of ideas but not enough courage to cut a RTW! We'll see what my sis says.Thanks for the help everybody!

        1. Josefly | | #6

          I hope your jacket works out for you - sounds like you're getting creative, and good things usually result.Would you mind telling us about the lining used for your jacket? In another discussion thread the topic of lining for for stretch fabrics arose, and I wondered what is used that doesn't interfere with the "give" of a stretch garment. I'm assuming your jacket is not made of a knit; you said stretchy cotton?

          1. nmog | | #7

            I would love to say it's bemberg, but it feels more like a poly. It's lightweight, too. I'm not sure why they picked that one!Nicole

        2. krichmond | | #8

          Hi Nicole:

          Sorry - haven't checked my e-mail in a few days!  The reason why I asked about the fit problem (i.e. tightness exacerbated when arms are forward) was because sometimes this can indicate a problem with the amount of ease (not enough) in the sleeve, or a problem with the rotation (set-in position) of the sleeve (i.e. the ease is insufficient in part of the sleeve), or a problem with the size of the armhole (usually prevalent in a larger, lower-cut armhole).  If the jacket is uncomfortable when even a person of a smaller size wears it, it is usually a rotation problem.  Sometimes fixing the fit involves resetting the entire sleeve, which can be a bit of a chore.  I have a lovely (read: expensive) wool blazer with the same problem that I cannot stand wearing and I am too chicken to attempt to correct the fit problem.  I wish you luck and keep us posted.



          1. MaryinColorado | | #10

            You could recreate it into a vest if it doesn't work out. 

          2. nmog | | #12

            OOH, good idea. That might save me loads of trouble. However, it is now sitting in my sister's closet, so we'll see. I think that the return deadline is tomorrow, so the decision is imminent!Nicole

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