Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

August 03, 2009

At a stretch

I have the greatest admiration people who alter and repair clothes for a living.

You see there's a lot at stake with that kind of sewing. You are working with a garment that already has a history. A piece that someone loves and cares for enough to pay to keep wearing. And if you muck it up ... well who knows what might happen. That's a great deal of responsibility.

So, as you might understand, I felt a little nervous during the weekend's assignment: altering a friend's top from maternity to civvy. A favourite, treasured garment. A beautiful, fine wool blend stretch knit in a lovely colour.

If you think I was being overcautious, I should throw in that the fabric of course had a two-way stretch. With the crosswise stretch being 280%. Yup ... this top had more chance of ending up wavy than the Bells Beach Surf Carnival.

So I did what you have to do with stretch fabrics: stared it in the eye and tried not to show my fear.

The first part was easy - I used the overlocker to trim the excess length and overcast the new hem edge. The second part was a comedy of errors. A misplaced love of twin needles - and a unfailing belief in their magical properties on stretch fabric - was the source of much unpicking. Twice. There were ridges, puckering, waves and snapped thread. And swearing. So ugly.

Finally I tried fusing the hem turning with some stabilising Vliesofix tape, then securing it with a single line of lightening stitch (a little zig-zaggy stretch stitch that many machines have). Much better.

That said, I think we can safely assume that I will never work in a business that bears the word alter in its name.


  1. So I shouldn't drop by with a box of clothes in need of alterations!?

    I am VERY scared of stretch fabric & of clothing alterations, so I think you are very brave.

    I still outsource alterations, it is much less stressful...

  2. Yes, you were very brave to attempt such a feat. She must be a very very good friend! Congratulations on beating the beast.


  3. I've often thought you were a marvel and not a mere woman/mother/designer etc. You've confirmed your place on my sewing pedestal. Lisa.

  4. Oh my word... I read your posts and realise that I know nothing about sewing. NOTHING! Two-way stretch? Percentages? EEEK! My admiration for you grows daily. Meanwhile, back to my 'stand-back-and-throw' techniques... he he he.

  5. 10 points for having a crack at it. And looks like you did a fine job.

    How strict will you be on the 'alter' claim... What about:
    WALTER's Fine Foods
    Never fALTER Cleaning Service
    ALTERnative Fashions
    SALTERs Fish & Chip Shop

    I'll stop now.

  6. Ai ya yai! A braver woman than I will ever be (I'm still scared of zips)

  7. Oh how true...
    I get requests from people all the time and I hate altering anything...
    I don't get around to my own stuff...
    I just try to explain to them that just because I sew dolls doesn't mean that I can sew clothes...but I really wish I could...

  8. Stretchy fabric is very unpredictable. I find it near impossible to get a neat stitch on it.

  9. you've achieved a truely professional result. now what was your hourly rate?!!


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