Friday, May 8, 2015

How to take in a blouse with snaps, the overcomplicated way!

It was Cinco de Mayo. Or, as my boyfriend calls it, Cinco de Drinko, and naturally he wanted to go out and celebrate. I wasn't planning to dress for the holiday, but he wanted to go all-out with a Mexican theme. So when it came time to plan my outfit, I opened up my closet and looked for something that might pass for Mexican. What immediately jumped out at me was this shirt.

Originally left at my house by a Chinese Airbnb guest and with the tags all in some Asian language, I was pretty sure it wasn't authentically Mexican, but it has the bright colors, flat design, embroidered flowers, and chicken motif that I associate with a lot of Mexican artwork and clothing. It's actually part of a 2-piece pajama set, and as you can see, it's quite loose and comfy-looking. Perfect for wearing to bed, but not exactly flattering for a night on the town.

The only way I'd be willing to wear this in public is if it were more fitted, but since it doesn't stretch, I knew I wouldn't be able to put it on if I took it in. And, with just a couple hours until bedtime, I didn't have time for any complicated alterations like adding a zipper. A string tie at the back is a simple way of making a baggy top fit better, but this top was too baggy even for that! I needed to find a way to keep the extra fabric and keep it under control.

The solution was something I've never tried before: a couple of internal snaps. In retrospect, since I ended up using a ribbon tie anyway, it probably would have been easier just to sew up the sides to remove some of the bulk, and then use the ribbon tie to fine-tune the fit...but if you want to see an interesting snappy alternative, go ahead and read on!
First, to decide where the waist should be. In a mirror, I pinched the fabric at my waist and then marked the spot with a safety pin on the right side--only one side because I needed to be able to take the shirt off!

Once the shirt was removed, I flipped it inside out and replaced the safety pin marker with 2 dots of tailor's chalk. 

Then I sewed one half of a snap onto each dot.

Here are the two complementary snap pieces after they were sewn on.

Folding the bottom down at the height of the snap, I then used the old eyeball technique to estimate where to put the snap on the left side. 

I marked it with chalk and sewed it on.

Now, I had two snaps on the inside of the shirt which I would use to quickly nip in the waist.
Unfortunately, this didn't make the shirt any smaller; it just added "wings" on the side. I needed to find a way to hold those wings down flat. For that, it was time for ribbon ties.

I took a length of seam binding (used that instead of ribbon because I liked the color) and cut it in two pieces.

I folded over the end of one, and laid it over the side seam at the same height as the snap. You can just see the pale pink stitching that is the only sign of the snap from the outside.

Then I stitched the ribbon down using two rows of machine stitches. If I had had more time, I would have opened part of the side seam and sewn down the ribbon on the inside. My compromise was to keep the exposed end of the ribbon on the back panel of the shirt. That would ensure it would be covered up when the ribbons were tied. 

Of course, I repeated the process on the other side seam.

The ribbons were prone to fraying, so I unceremoniously burned off the tips to seal the synthetic fabric.

That was it! Now I can wear this shirt and not feel ashamed. Once I fit it over my head, I snap the internal snaps to define the waist, then tie the ribbons in the back to keep everything flat. It kind of looks like I have a peplum in the back, which was an unintended but pretty cool feature!

I ironed it before I wore it; this was just a trial run!
My only issue with this rather unconventional closure method is that the fabric in the back doesn't stay put, tending to ride up. If I had had more time, I  would have added another set of snaps to hold the layers together.

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