Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | September 2, 2011

Modifications Galore…Oh, the pain.

Do you remember that big sewing project last summer?  This fall, I have the rare privilege of modifying the outfit I wore only once.  Oh joy.

Okay, the reason for the necessary modifications is good.  I lost a few inches.  Turned out that by June both of the dresses I made for faire were huge on me.  (But really, I did such a good job with all that HANDSEWING!!!)  It just wasn’t pleasant to realize that the new garb was not right to wear.  So…

After much procrastination…in July…I finally marked the 3 inches that I needed to take in on my English kirtle.

Then I let a few more weeks pass.

August I pulled out the sewing machine and ironing board.  I hemmed a couple of curtains for a friend.  I thought about how to modify the bodice to fit the smaller me.  Procrastination is a well honed talent.

This week, I ran out of time.  I only have 2 weeks before I have to wear the kirtle for Much Ado About Sebastopol (, and I need to do a test run before that.  It meant that I needed this ready for Ardenwood Faire, Sept. 10th (  I consoled myself.  It would be my birthday present to myself: a well-fitting new outfit for faire.

I pulled out a smock.  I crossed my fingers (and toes) and put on the corset.  Husby laced me in.  It just fit, completely laced closed.  I could breathe easily in it.  Heck, I could even eat in it.  But I was thrilled that it wasn’t too big.  I pulled out the kirtle and put it on.  I checked the marking of how much I needed to alter it.  It was do or die time.

I pulled out the seam ripper and …silently screaming… took out the two rows of handstitching holding the cartridge pleated skirt to the front hooking bodice. It took about an hour to remove all the tiny, consistent, stitches from the front and back rows.  (Just thinking about it makes me tear up.  But at least I did all the stitch removal while testing the corset out.  Yup, movement was unrestricted and reasonably comfortable.)

I took a break and allowed myself to wallow in the grief I felt at removing the stitching …and let the fear mount…

I  picked up my seam ripper and took out the row of hooks and eyes on the left side front.  I pressed open the once stitched waist seam.  And then…I lay the bodice on the cutting surface and sliced off a wedge on each front at the waist.

Fear…cold, hard, weighty fear.  Had I sliced off too much?  Would it look all right?

Well, I really didn’t have much choice.  I figured if I lose/gain/lose weight, I have to be able to adjust the bodice for changing measurements.  I couldn’t just take in a midback seam, I had to make the front adjustable.  I’m going with an off-center fastening bodice closed with hooks, like in View C on page 64 of The Tudor Tailor.   (

Gone is the dipping front.  Now it is a straight waist bodice.  I am adjusting the skirt to accommodate the overlapping bodice.  The cartridge pleating got tightened up  a bit more.

I’m about 1/3 done restitching the skirt to the bodice.  When I’ve gotten the bodice reattached, I’ll replace the hooks and eyes.  (Remember, you alternate them so they don’t come undone as easily with movement – tip from pg 51 from The Tudor Tailor).

And, yes, I’ll post pictures when I’m through with this torture exercise.




  1. Huzzah for you! This is a quality problem! I need adjusting too, but I’m not ready to unpleat those cartridges yet, I can still get away with adjusting a hook or two

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