Can you help?

I know that you smart, talented and generous readers will be able to give me directions to my problem, especially those of you who sew clothes.

A year or so ago I made my elderly Mum this top. We had a lovely day choosing the pattern and material, and I enjoyed sewing. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right pattern to choose, and was way too big on Mum. She has always been petite and become more so as she has aged.

She loves the fabric, enjoys the idea of wearing garments that are not Little Old Lady Clothes. I think most of all though, she loves it because it was something we did together.

So she has asked me to make it smaller, which is where I need your advice. I can see two options.

  1. to take it in under the armholes and down the side. Would this create problems with the way the top hangs?
Obviously the seams would be way more symmetrical than I have managed to draw onto the photo!

2. to take it in down the middle, back as well as front, of course. While this option is the most fiddly (I would have to rebind the neck and redo the hem) I feel that the top will sit better on her. Also, the neck is very wide, and this option will reduce that.

However, I would like to know what the more experienced among you think. Is there an option 3? Any thoughts?

By anne54

Botanic artist

11 replies on “Can you help?”

Hi Anne,
As the neck is too wide try taking in the middle bits first. While your mum has the top on put some pins in back and front and see how that looks. I have seen tailors do that, and my mum used to make our clothes and the cry would be, ‘mind the pins!’. However if the garment is being made smaller there may need to be an opening in the garment somewhere so it is easy to put on and take off. The binding is a bit finicky to deal with, I agree. These are only suggestions and someone might have a better idea.
All the best

Liked by 1 person

Hi Anne, l would look at opening up the front,and reducing the necessary amount. You could overlap one side & leave it open part of the way up. That would reduce neck size ( if you want that) and you could bind the new opening, with have an optional closing with a loop and interesting button or tie at the top. Sorry….sounds very involved.

Liked by 1 person

First unpick the pocket and set it aside. Take in a series of pin tucks down the full length of the body on both shoulders, front and back, which will draw the sides in without disturbing either the neck or the armholes. Decide how much you want to lose, divide by three or four (depending on the number), draw a number of parallel lines on front and back with a long ruler and an erasable/washable pencil or pen, and take in tucks of the appropriate width. It will work well with the striped fabric and the plain background equally. Once the tucks are sewn and pressed, you can replace the pocket. Hope this helps!

Liked by 2 people

What a shame it doesn’t fit because it is such a lovely top. I think Kate has the solution but the key is to fiddle around with pins whilst it is on your Mum before you do anything drastic.

Liked by 2 people

Thanks everyone! I will give Kate’s suggestion a go. I am seeing Mum tomorrow, so I will take the top, tape measure, pins etc and give it a go…..and let you know, of course.


Hi Anne! Well I don’t do much clothes sewing from scratch but do alter things. It looks pretty tricky. My first thought was take in down the sides, but I prefer your second option to keep the stripes straight – only the pocket might need shifting. You could also take in a seam horizontally along of the sleeves and into the neck to make the sleeves slimmer and the neck smaller. You’ve probably done the alteration by now wih all this advice, so I hope it turned out well :>)


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