The problem with RTW clothing… ‘Super Sewer’ to the rescue

Recently a friend of mine went on a ‘sale time’ shopping spree. She purchased online four dresses from the same company. I’m not going to name names here as I consider this to be a problem across the board of all shops be it a high street store or an online fashion outlet.
Now these four dresses were all purchased as a size 14. They all have identical bodice sections to the dress. They only differ in that one has a full skirt and is a satin fabric with lace overlay. Two are cotton fabric both with full skirts and the fourth one has a sarong wrap type skirt.
The lace overlay dress was slightly too small however by using the fabric overlapping the zip my friend managed to find enough fabric to loosen the dress… great news however the zip is now fully exposed… not so great new.
One of the cotton full dresses was far too large… “That’s strange” she thinks “maybe they put the wrong label in and it’s really a 16”
The second cotton full dress… Perfect fit! YEY! And it looked even better when the boning was removed.
The final dress… her favourite of the lot, looked fabulous from the front…..


And like this from the back…..


How on earth can this happen? Ok so in some shops you may be a UK 12 and in another be a UK 14 or even a 16 but for all four dresses to be so similar, all a size 14, and yet all be so wildly different in actual size.
A cry for help went out so I put on my ‘Super Sewer’ cape and flew to the rescue. The ‘Super Sewer’ bit was a silly joke at the time by the way being as I was coming to the aid of a damsel in ‘dis-dress’ boom boom 😀
I figured the best way to tackle the issue was to add in two panels at either side seam. There was a matching bolero jacket but I didn’t really want to cut into that if I could help it. It just so happened that I had two shades of blue 100% plain cotton that fit the bill nicely. We opted for the darker of the two.


I carefully took the dress apart, first at the waist and down the zip and then the two side seams in question.


I then measured out a panel to fit in between the two sides that would give about an inch at the waist edge and 2.5-3inch at the top. This panel was a double thickness folded at the top.
Now for the long bit… After stitching a casing close to the top fold I took out my bobbin and filled it with shirring elastic. I gave up counting how many lines I stitched but it was a LOT! I made the panels double as I wanted to enclose the shirring for a neater finish plus the top half of the dress was lined. Eventually I got both sides of both sides shirred. Incidentally to get the lines nice and neat all I did was move the needle as far to the right as I could and used the left hand edge of the foot to line up against the previously stitched line of shirring.


Next I carefully made sure all the ends were hanging out and stitched down each side of the panels close to the edge. This would make it much easier when it came to fitting the panels to the bodice.
76b63fa9-78ca-436a-b60c-598cf4488760With a bit of fiddling about and lots of pins I managed to place each panel in between the lining and bodice front so that everything was secured with one line of stitching and all then edges were encased. No hand sewing of the lining required YEY.


Next I cut of exactly 1 inch of fabric all around the top of the skirt. This did involve unpicking the draped section a little and increasing the fold at the top but it was pretty simple to do. Now using the center front and the zip casings at markers I neatly fitted the bodice to the skirt again. Re-inserted the bottom half of the zip and…
VOILA… Perfect fit! (does need a good press mind!)


Oh and we added two self-covered buttons to the front of the dress to match in the side panels. I initially placed them equidistant but we later decided to move them so they were both near the top pleat detail.

I still don’t understand how garments can be made in the same place with the same fabrics and still come out different sizes… Ho hum

On to the next project

Happy sewing people…

Lainey x

About acraftteacuppa

Vintage kinda gal loves all things 40s 50s and art deco. Loves all kinds of crafts especially sewing. addicted to fabric, antiques and shoes. Have two sons and two Akitas that I adore. Passionate about our armed forces, WW1 family history. Living on WW2 Rations for Charity for a whole year. Would one day like to have a tea shop/haberdashery/sewing rooms to relax chat and teach/share all sorts of craft skills in <3
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8 Responses to The problem with RTW clothing… ‘Super Sewer’ to the rescue

  1. Emily says:

    Nice save! The sizing issue is really crazy nowadays, you can never be sure what’s going to arrive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 Its ridiculous really… ok you expect a sizing difference between some shops but all from the same UK based UK made company? Silly :/

      Liked by 1 person

    • AmyInNH says:

      Decades ago when I worked in a sewing factory, if someone messed up and they had an extra size 18 and were short a size 8, rather than locate the one off in the stock, the floor manager took an 18, relabeled it a 16, took a 16, relabeled it a 14, etc. until she had the correct number of items per size. You can see what a wreck that’d be at the other end: store/customer, as the floor manager multiplied the problem instead of actually resolving it.
      I can’t speak for England but in the US, not only are the sizes a wild swing from one brand to another, but overall they’ve been targeting using as little fabric as possible in women’s clothing. Cap sleeves, midriff length, capri pants, wafer-thin “burnout” fabrics, spandex fabrics (we are literally looking like stuffed sausages over here), next up this season: shoulder-less tops/dresses. NY fashion designers said this is as directed.


  2. AmyInNH says:

    ps – sewing a few cheap haircombs into the bottom of the bandana/headscarf will keep the lower back of it in place, for that Carmen Miranda outfit.


    • That’s a good idea 😀 I shall pass that on to my friend. I personally don’t look good in Turbans and I have an odd shaped head that doesn’t hold a bandana well either so if give it a go again myself I shall bear that tip in mind. Thank you 😀


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