Phil Davis portrayed the deliciously nasty moneylender Mr. Smallweed in the BBC adaptation of Dickens’ Bleak House a few years back. Here is a YouTube video of his granddaughter, Judy, shaking (hiking) him up: Bleak House. My UK viewers may also recognize the actor as Jud, the caretaker, in the new series Poldark.
So what does this have to do with sewing? Well, this time of year I have many requests for “hiking up shoulders” to make RTW dresses fit better on petite figures.
The first one involves a one shouldered wedding gown from David’s Bridal. All the fitting is controlled by that one shoulder and by taking up the seam 2 inches, it will make the bride feel and look better. She also wanted the shoulder drape removed so here is what I did.
To get inside the seams, I detached the lining from the zipper and opened up the entire shoulder to get a grip of each seam of fabric and lining. Pulling the whole mess through the new opening lets us see what has to be done:
Remove beads that will be in the way of the new stitching first. Measure down 1 inch on each lining side and lacy fabric side, stitch each one:
Stitch the outer edges back together and turn right side out:
It looks nice from the right side but I then hand sew understitching to keep the lining in place.
The next dress is for a bridesmaid and needs 4 inches taken away to sit correctly on her body.
I trimmed away the excess fabric with my pinking shears and flipped the seam allowances away from each other to reduce bulk for the final stitching. My pins are positioned in the direction of the sewing so they can be removed as I stitch and the green nail polish was for St. Patrick’s day.
Once the shoulders are turned right side out, we have a nice flat finish.
There are different ways to make this same alteration but I like this one as it gives me the most open area to work on all the seams. I hate fussing and wrestling within a small space as it seems to take more time and adds to labor costs. This dress also required me to take in the side seams from the armhole to the hem 4 inches on each side (and lining) and hem 2 layers.
Why people insist on buying a dress 3 or more sizes too big baffles me. If your dress is 8 inches too big around you and 4 inches too long in bodice length…then it just ain’t your dress! I told the girl that this would essentially be a total remake of the dress since almost every seam had to be opened and altered and put back. The labor may be more than the original cost?
Now that spring has come to our valley you can catch a glimpse of a downy woodpecker stocking up on suet before the breeding season: May you all have a super week of sewing and enjoy watching Poldark in the UK (soon to be coming to PBS in the US) and I hope none of you have to do any “hiking up” of shoulder seams!!!