Top Tips for Restoring & Altering Vintage Clothing
If standing out from the crowd and radiating your own unique style is a priority for you it is highly likely that your closet will be full to bursting with handmade garments and vintage pieces. The benefits of creating your own clothing is that you can get that made-to-measure fit that will falter your unique figure. But, when it comes to vintage clothing many of them need a bit of TLC to repair the damage form years of wear and tear, or simply need to be adjusted to fit your figure. When you bring home that fabulous vintage treasure it can be a little daunting to get get busy with the scissors, needle and threads for essential repairs and adjustments.
So, vintage lovers, to give you a bit of a helping hand when it comes to your much loved vintage pieces the in-house seamstress at Mela Mela Vintage has complied this must-read Guide to Restoring & Altering Vintage Clothing!
Have you ever fallen in love with a piece of clothing in a vintage shop or website, only to find something about it just isn’t quite right? We’re not talking simple things like the garment being too small or too large, (although watch out for vintage size tags – a vintage UK size UK 16 label may correspond to something more like a modern size UK 12), but perhaps the neck seems too tight, the armholes too small, or you find it hard to squeeze into it at all!
If you’re a fan of vintage clothing you’ll notice this quite often because the way clothes were cut back then is slightly different to now, and body shapes and underwear have altered quite a bit. But there’s no need to leave the coveted item on the rail, because it only takes a few simple tweaks to get it look good and fitting well.
Not only that, but small details like buttons and other notions can crack, look shabby or even go missing entirely. That’s an easy fix!
To get an idea of what to look for, we’ve asked for the top tips from a team that works with vintage clothes on a daily basis.
Without further ado, here are the tips from our seamstress:
1 Replace vintage buttons with new buttons (vintage style) as the original ones are often missing or become brittle over time.
2 40s dresses – we usually replace the small original zip with a new underarm zip to make it easy to get in and out of.
3 60s dresses – we often increase the size of the arm holes as they are typically very small.
4 High necklines – we often reshape high necklines to be slightly less extreme and thus more comfortable to wear.
5 Pre-50s dresses – sequins turn to jelly so you need to test them before making any updates.
You can combine these changes with altering a garment to suit your personal taste too. Vintage skirts that are an unflattering length can become a little shorter (although very short skirts make most vintage dresses look unbalanced, so stick with knee length or just above in most cases). A very loose shirt can be given bust darts to fit a bit better.
To make a garment look pristine, have it professionally dry-cleaned. A gentle hand wash is enough for some items, such as lambs wool twinsets, but be careful with anything with structure, i.e. suit jackets and coats, as they will have interfacings and padding that may lose stiffness or simply disintegrate on contact with water. Leave it to the experts.
Some vintage clothes, however, can’t easily be altered without spoiling the whole look and intention of the design. For these we say: leave them on the rail for someone else to enjoy, or buy them for your personal collection just to admire and take inspiration from!
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This handy tips are from the talents team at Mela Mela Vintage, a vintage boutique in South West London. Mela Mela stock a wide variety of original vintage clothes and accessories.