Better in Bluffton


13 Mar Better in Bluffton

For the third weekend in a row, I am away from home. All good but each weekend has involved planning a suitable wardrobe and packing a suitcase.

Greetings from the lovely Montage Palmetto Bluff resort in Bluffton, SC, an outstanding resort nestled along the May River and home to numerous sunbathing alligators πŸ˜‰

Hubby is working and I am playing, but the weekend is full of activities that require thoughtful dressing. I panicked as I started packing my suitcase since my sewing has been off track and a new season has arrived.

Looking at this dressΒ in my closet evoked an unpleasant reaction since I knew it never fit me properly. The darts were too high and the front was too loose ~ an unusual combination.



While the style was ideal for the one meeting I would attend with my husband over the weekend, I did not want to be uncomfortable and awkward with constant tugging etc…

I had one hour to shop for something to wear or sew. I sewed.

Maybe you’ve seen this wonderful BurdaStyle tutorial on how to lower a bust dart which is based on a Sandra Betzina technique. I use this adjustment often, but did not have the luxury of starting from scratch this time.

To make the alteration work on a finished garment, I:

1. Β Removed 8″ of stitching from Β the side seams

2. Β Carefully picked out the stitching from the darts.

3. Relocated the dart line.

4. Stitched the dart and closed the sides.

It was easier than I expected, but the slack still remained in the front. I added two optional vertical darts based on the McCall’s pattern and here is the result.



SIDE: (double click to see vertical front darts)

IMG_0054I made no adjustments to the back, but altering the front affected the back with an even closer fit.

Had I only spent 1 additional hour making this adjustments when I made this dress, I could have saved myself Β manyΒ hoursΒ of angst.

The obvious moral of the story is to do things properly the first time ~ I’m lucky I had a second chance with this garment!

Until soon.

P.S……………Hubs refused to take my photograph with the bathing beauties I photographed for the featured image πŸ™‚

  • Margene Yeaton
    Posted at 01:13h, 13 March Reply

    What a cute dress on you with the expert changes that made for a happier time!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:19h, 14 March Reply

      Fit is everything, isn’t it? Many thanks, Margene!

  • Tracy Harris
    Posted at 05:13h, 13 March Reply

    The dress looks fabulous after your changes, half of the problem I find with these sort of changes is the actual unpicking.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:20h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Tracy! I agree with you, but this one was problem free, thank goodness πŸ™‚

  • Sew, Jean Margaret
    Posted at 05:37h, 13 March Reply

    I must admit I have a few garments in my wardrobe that could benefit from a little redoing. As you have demonstrated, it doesn’t take too long to transform a mediocre garment to a wardrobe favourite. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:21h, 14 March Reply

      I have a few more myself…………. hopefully they will be as easy as this dress was πŸ˜‰ Many thanks for the comment, Jean!

  • Marji
    Posted at 05:56h, 13 March Reply

    Well hello, you’re in my neck of the woods. Are you still here? If you are and have an hour or two try to get to the Palmetto Quilt Guild show. Today is the final day, 10-4pm. It’s pretty amazing. If you get there ask someone to find me, Marjorie Graham. it would be lovely to meet you.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:23h, 14 March Reply

      Hi Marji!! We headed back home Sunday afternoon and wish I had known earlier. I would have so enjoyed the quilt show and meeting you. I’ll touch base with you when/if we come again for sure πŸ˜‰

  • Cindy Aymes
    Posted at 08:02h, 13 March Reply

    It’s amazing what an hour of patient ripping and sewing can do! Just wondering, have you ever done a blog post on weekend packing and mixing and matching? I love to see what women take for a weekend away and how they style their outfits. I usually take everything but the kitchen sink, and then I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to style them! I’d love to see your weekend wardrobe!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:25h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Cindy! Not sure you’d be too impressed with my weekend packing but if I ever sew a wardrobe capsule I’ll give it a try πŸ˜‰

  • Mary Funt
    Posted at 08:04h, 13 March Reply

    Congratulations on a great fix. I think many sewers are unwilling to unpick and redo but that can make the difference between a mediocre vs. a perfect fit. Enjoy your weekend.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:26h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks, Mary! I bet you never, ever have to unpick your garments πŸ˜‰

  • Becky Bagwell
    Posted at 08:10h, 13 March Reply

    What a difference! So pretty! Love the gators!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:26h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Becky!

  • Faye Lewis
    Posted at 08:24h, 13 March Reply

    Great save and nice dress!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:28h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Faye!

  • Fran Giacobbe
    Posted at 08:35h, 13 March Reply

    You added vertical darts?? Cannot see them but can see a fit difference. . Pretty smart and fast!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:29h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Fran. It was so quick that I deemed the adjustments worthy of a post πŸ™‚

  • Jeannie
    Posted at 08:40h, 13 March Reply

    Such perfection from an hour’s work!! It looks great—and you definitely are doing to win the prize for stripe matching on your front darts!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:30h, 14 March Reply

      LOL – many thanks, Jeannie! Those front darts would be disastrous if they didn’t match!!!!

  • Cathy Larsen
    Posted at 08:59h, 13 March Reply

    Well done again! You are such a wonderful inspiration.
    I had to make a similar dart alteration on a knit stripe top I made (my dart was too low) and I’m so glad I did as I know I wouldn’t want to wear it otherwise. You did such a precise job matching your stripes with your vertical darts that I had too zoom way in to see them. But what a flattering difference they made! You are also one of the few people I’ve seen that can pull off a horizontal stripe well.
    Thanks so much for sharing this latest project with us!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:32h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you for your nice comment, Cathy! Narrow horizontal stripes are not nearly as difficult to pull off as the wider stripes πŸ˜‰

  • Michele Brunskill
    Posted at 09:08h, 13 March Reply

    Great save on this dress. Love the effect the darting gives in the front. Cheers, Michele

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:33h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Michele!

  • Julie Starr
    Posted at 09:38h, 13 March Reply

    Great save and amazing matching on those vertical stripes. Such a good lesson for us all in this post!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:34h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks, Julie! There’s nothing worse than an ill-fitting garment πŸ˜‰

  • Kathy
    Posted at 09:53h, 13 March Reply

    Perfect fix for a now perfect fit. Enjoy the new look!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:34h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Kathy! It wears very well now πŸ˜‰

  • Graca Resendes
    Posted at 10:12h, 13 March Reply

    Nice work fixing the dress. Sometimes I envy you people who don’t have to shovel snow and then I’m reminded that there are sunbathing alligators which make snow seem quite pleasant. You have a smart hubby.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:38h, 14 March Reply

      LOL – nothing is ever perfect for sure! Many thanks for the comment, Graca πŸ˜‰

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 10:34h, 13 March Reply

    Your vertical matching is so amazing !! Your excellent post will make me rethink some ill fitting garments -thx

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:39h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Mary Ellen! Fit is everything and fortunately this garment was an easy fix πŸ˜‰

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 10:43h, 13 March Reply

    All I could think was I would have been screwed because I cut my darts open to get them as flat as possible when pressed. So happy these alterations worked for you and you were able to save this amazing dress! Enjoy the sunbathing beauties?!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:43h, 14 March Reply

      Hi Carolyn!
      Well……… I’m sure you never misplace your darts πŸ˜‰ We kept our distance from the gators – the beauty of a zoom lens. Many thanks for the comment!

  • Marvel Donovan
    Posted at 10:44h, 13 March Reply

    Excellent job. I love the dress. Which pattern did you use? I so enjoy your website. I, too, sew most of my clothes. This year I have really focused on fit and am getting better with each garment. Keep up the inspiration. Marvel

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:44h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Marvel! The pattern is McCalls 6355.

  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    Posted at 10:57h, 13 March Reply

    Love your dress after your alterations! Thank you for those links to lower a dart (I’m a great fan of Sandra’s Betzina already!) and add darts from McCalls. I will keep those in my favourites πŸ™‚ Those crazy side darts often end up too high on me as well and it’s so frustrating. I completely ruined a blouse that I so loved by having the darts too high and I couldn’t unpick it because I had crazily shortened the stitches at the end of the dart to 1 (someone has suggested this online) and the material just ripped as I attempted the “unsewing”! I didn’t have enough material to recut another bodice so I threw the whole thing out quite upset. Don’t shorten your stitches at the end of a dart is my heart-felt advice. Lovely dress!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:46h, 14 March Reply

      Kathleen ~ I’ve had those type of disasters myself and it is a drag ;( Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Stephanie sabourin
    Posted at 11:00h, 13 March Reply

    Wow, you changed this dress from unflattering to cute. And kudos on matching the stripes so well on the front vertical darts that I could not even see them until I made the photo large.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:47h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you Stephanie! Can you imagine how disastrous the outcome would be had I not matched the stripes! Baste, baste, baste πŸ™‚

  • Deborah Penner
    Posted at 11:20h, 13 March Reply

    This shows how added vertical or even a French dart can really make a difference on a garment. So many of the patterns we see now are shapeless. This easy change helps me see potential in several patterns that were on my discard pile.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:47h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks for the comment, Deborah! I need to give French darts a try πŸ™‚

    • Alice Elliot
      Posted at 18:40h, 14 March Reply

      My thought as well….French darts would have taken care of both side and vertical darts.

  • Laura Casey
    Posted at 11:22h, 13 March Reply

    Oh love the quick pic of the alligators sunning themselves! And love your dress and your quick fix… did a fab job on those vertical darts….a wonderful save!
    Today is raining in Asheville so a wonderful day to sew as DH watches golf……like watching paint dry!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:48h, 14 March Reply

      Hi Laura ~ Hope you got lots of sewing done yesterday πŸ™‚

  • Diana Deap
    Posted at 11:33h, 13 March Reply

    Great fix on your dress. I wonder if you would mind me sharing with you what I sometimes do when working with stripes. I don’t remember where I learned this but instead of sewing in the dart, I run two lines of loose stitches in the area where the dart should be. I then pull a bit on the stitches but not too much to avoid puckers. . Then, I ease the front to the back stretching the back a bit as I sew. This works quite well most of the time but I suppose it would depend on the weight of the fabric.. I hope you don’t mind me sharing.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:47h, 13 March Reply

      Thank you Diana! I love this idea and will certainly try it. Many thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Alice Elliot
      Posted at 18:42h, 14 March Reply

      I do this with most knits instead of bust darts. Works so much better. Then a full bust adjustment only needs a bit of added width at the side bust and some added length to the front, all taken care of with the ease stitches at the side.

  • Roxanne Reynolds
    Posted at 11:46h, 13 March Reply

    Sarah, I think it looks lovely.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:09h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Roxanne!!

  • lynne
    Posted at 11:54h, 13 March Reply

    That is impressive. I am just getting back into sewing garments so I will definitely remember this.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:49h, 14 March Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Lynne!

  • Lynn Mally
    Posted at 12:02h, 13 March Reply

    What a beautiful alteration! I had to click many times to see the vertical front darts, since your sewing is also so wonderfully accurate.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:50h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks, Lynn! Basting is the secret to accuracy πŸ˜‰

  • Carol Ware
    Posted at 12:37h, 13 March Reply

    I love this mccall’s pattern. It is one of my TNT’s. I always lower bust darts and add darts in the front because of my shape. I’m so glad you were able to save this dress! Most of the time we get rid of wadders but the one’s that manage to hang around usually find them selves revised and turned into a favorite! Nice work!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:51h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you Carol! I just couldn’t let go of this one and fortunately is was an easy fix πŸ™‚ I’m giving the pattern another try.

  • Irene
    Posted at 14:20h, 13 March Reply

    You look wonderful! That dress was certainly worth the time spent on it. I often avoid the last try-on of a garment before hanging it in the closet, only to find that the garment then gets ignored because of some small “flaw”.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:52h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Irene. I understand as I’m always ready to finish a garment πŸ˜‰

  • Kathie Bennett
    Posted at 15:12h, 13 March Reply


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:53h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you, Kathie!

  • Cissie Wellons
    Posted at 15:19h, 13 March Reply

    Great save, Sarah. Aren’t you glad that you hung on to this dress?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:53h, 14 March Reply

      Indeed Cissie ~ many thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

  • Nancy S.
    Posted at 17:07h, 13 March Reply

    What a wonderful re-do. The fit is perfect and you look to be having a good time, In the older photos, I was amazed how beautifully the lining of your red jacket worked against the dress fabric. Wonderful job.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:55h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks, Nancy! Black and white stripes go with just about anything πŸ™‚

  • Margo
    Posted at 18:34h, 13 March Reply

    Great save! The fit is perfect. I love a striped dress…it’s so versatile.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:56h, 14 March Reply

      Thank you Margo! Striped dresses are the best πŸ˜‰

  • Gerhild
    Posted at 20:42h, 13 March Reply

    Great alteration tip and the dress now fits beautifully.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:56h, 14 March Reply

      Many thanks, Gerhild !

  • Sylvia Long
    Posted at 11:50h, 14 March Reply

    What a fabulous fix Sarah! The dress is adorable on you. You did such a good job-I had to zoom wayyyy in to see the verticle dart. Great idea. I’ll be reassessing some loose dresses I have.
    May I ask where you found those great black flats?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:01h, 15 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Sylvia! The great black flats have some age on them which is starting to show. They are Tibi purchased from Monkees in Pinehurst, NC.

  • Creative Hormone Rush
    Posted at 12:27h, 14 March Reply

    Fabulous save! I think a healthy dollop of single-minded determination is quite an asset in sewing. Your after-the-fact tweak is outstanding.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:02h, 15 March Reply

      Thanks so much! It was part determination part desperation πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Alice Elliot
    Posted at 18:45h, 14 March Reply

    Great save! Really cute dress, so glad you took the time to alter it. I think French darts would have made the original pattern so much easier to deal with in a stripe. No need to go crazy matching those vertical darts. I wonder how you managed the little bit of extra fabric needed in the side for the dart fullness when moving the whole thing down?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:04h, 15 March Reply

      Well you are right – a French dart would have been the perfect solution. As for the extra fabric – I sewed a larger seam allowance which afforded the extra fabric. πŸ˜‰
      Many thanks, Alice!

  • Tomasa
    Posted at 19:46h, 15 March Reply

    Your alterations most definitely improved the fit of this dress – beautiful!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:48h, 16 March Reply

      Thank you, Tomasa!

  • Lucy
    Posted at 12:17h, 16 March Reply

    Glad to see you had a second chance with this dress. It turned out great.

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