Victory Lola Revisited

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This Victory Lola dress is actually a pattern I made almost two years ago (whoa, I had purple hair back then, remember that??) but I lost weight and it was awkwardly oversized on me. So it sat lonely and sad in my drawer for months.

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Then Miss Lulu made a cool sweatshirt version of this dress and it inspired me enough to go back to my own Lola and alter it. I loved this dress but didn’t want to half-ass stitch it up the sides (in fact this dress doesn’t even have side seams). Instead I pulled the ENTIRE THING apart. I think it’s 16 pieces if you count the cuffs and whatnot. All serger stitching.

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Once that was done I revisited my paper pieces and cut them two sizes smaller. Then I used those to cut down all the main fabric pieces. Luckily sewing it back together was a breeze.

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I actually didn’t cut the cuffs, collar or band smaller because I had remembered on my old dress that the cuffs and bottom band made the fabric ripple a bit, I thought that was because the rib knit was too tight.

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Keeping them a little larger definitely helped except the collar is a little wavy. Not enough to make me want to go back and fix it, though. A good note for later if I ever want to make it again.

And the dress works perfectly with my Espresso Leggings!

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This brings up the topic of alterations, specifically of your own makes. I hate it. I despise it. I never ever want to go back and fix something I’ve already done. On principle it should have been perfect when I finished sewing it, going back and re-doing it is like some sort of self-insult. I know, logically, this makes no sense however I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

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I tried thinking more in depth about why I would or would not be inclined to return to an old make and alter it, especially because after changing sizes I have plenty of things that could be made smaller. This is different than just simple alterations like hemming or fitting adjustments, I’m talking changing the entire size of the garment.

Waistbands – I hate it when all I’d otherwise need to do would be stitch, say, a skirt up the sides but that pesky waistband is in the way! I’d have to tear the whole thing off then shorten it, probably needing to move buttons or belt loops making an otherwise simple alteration sit in the to-do pile indefinitely.

Darts vs. Princess Seams – the way a pattern is drafted it’s often too hard to try and move bust darts on an already cut out piece of fabric. I’ve noticed that by losing weight my darts often end up way too low, a problem that can’t be fixed with just stitching up the side of a garment. Princess seams are much easier to work with but they still usually have the problem of the seams being too wide.

Shoulders – inevitably dropping sizes means your shoulders on your garment might be too wide. Usually I don’t even bother to fix this but on a fitted dress it’s an issue and cutting the shoulder line back does wonky things to a shoulder cap sometimes so it’s not as easy of a fix as you might think.

Linings – Oh, God, please, no! If you want to alter a dress that’s fully lined, ha! Good luck with that. You’re not getting away without ripping that whole thing apart.

You can see why I despise revisiting my old makes so why have I done it sometimes?

Well, this dress had raglan sleeves – no weird sleeve problems to adjust. Princess seams means no funky dart placement. And with so many pattern pieces it was the kind of design where I knew that I could easily cut down all the pieces without clipping off parts of the pattern piece here and there (you know how most pattern pieces aren’t nested easily within each other?). I only had that problem with the underarm side piece.

My Beignet skirt was relatively easy to alter as it had no waistband, no lining and no darts, just skirt panels.

But, surprisingly or not, all the makes I’ve altered (some not blogged) I have completely ripped them apart down to the studs and re-cut every piece which seems pretty ironic considering I can’t even be bothered to take a waistband off a skirt. I make no sense. But in the end I’m always happy that I took the time to do it.

How do you feel about going back and altering old handmade clothes? Do you bother to do it or do you only sew new garments?

  • lulumiss

    This came out so well! Well done for going back to this one. You’re gonna get so much wear out of it now..

  • Accordion

    Much prefer to get it right to begin with! I loathe alterations, they take mote time than creating from scratch.

    Having said that, I am in the processor losing weight and am making clothes that are alter-able. And are not precision fit at the shoulders & bust.

    If that doesn’t work I’ll just make more clothes!

  • Hahahaha, I can totally relate to this! I would hand-baste fabric to underlining, blind hem a gigantic skirt, or pad stitch a jacket, but I will never get around to my alterations/mending to-do pile. Never. It’s just not going to happen! I think it has something to do with the fact that there’s no thrill of a new garment spurring me forward. But, I’m glad that you made this wearable because it’s really cute!

  • Yay for your new-old Lola! It’s such a lovely pattern and it does look perfect with your Espresso leggings! I love the bright colour!
    Oh, I hate altering, too. I usually try to get away with as little as possible, if that can still assure that I wear a garment more often. It doesn’t help that I tend to put side zippers into dresses and skirts. Ripping and re-installing invisible zippers is *not* my favorite pastime!
    I’ve never fully taken apart a garment to alter it, though. If I can take it in, I try to just re-do the side seams (or underbust seams, as it may happen)… Oh, did you read about StephC’s dress surgery, where she cut just one side of the seam and re-did it? It sounded (and looked) very clever…

  • Love the new Lola :) and no way – I’d rather spend the time making something new than revisit a previous make. Unless I really, Really live it and wear it all the time. I’m a yes to all your Complaints above, otherwise!

  • Sew Brunswick

    Love this dress and colour on you! I HATE altering and generally don’t do it. Would much prefer to make a new one…

  • I think I’d just make something new. Although I am in the middle of relining the sleeves of a jacket. It’s just the sleeves. Not so bad, but motivation is a problem. I’ve done one sleeve.

  • Eleyna

    This dress is awesome on you and fits your perfectly! I’m working on losing weight too and I’m a bit worried about having to alter things in the future, too. I totally feel you on hating altering things, I have a pile of clothes that need altering (some even easy fixes like raising a hemline) that have been collecting dust for the last year.

    After seeing this pattern on you, I know it’s time for me to get it out of my stash and finally make it. The top with the leggings = perfection! And looks so comfy, too!!

  • House Of Pinheiro

    I dread alterations…. Most of my old makes are too big and I’m trying to find courage to re work them. Your Lola is sweet. I love this pattern

  • lisa g

    i don’t know why it’s so hard to force myself to fix up old handmades, but i’m much the same as you described! this dress looks great, and i really need to get this pattern! hadn’t even noticd the raglan sleeve before and now i REALLY want it…

  • I have a small rack of self-mades that need fixing. It’s just not a glamorous compared to the prospect of a shiny new project! I applaud you for taking the time to make your Lola fit, though – it was worth it, and I think it’s the responsible thing to do. The one fix I look forward to is dyeing self-mades a new color!

  • I am so impressed that you took it apart & fixed it! Obviously it was worth every stitch: you look fab! x

  • Angela

    I have a dress I made that is now way too big that I need to take apart and re-make. It should not be too bad. The sleeves hold the most detail and I don’t have to change those, just put them back in after I take the body of the dress down several sizes :)

    I think you have inspired me to do it now that I see your dress. Great job! So cute.

  • sallieforrer

    HUGE props to you for ripping this apart and starting from scratch!! And I’m super happy you did, because you look phenomenal! I love this dress, looks so comfy and easy to throw on. And the color is just.. wow!

  • Jenny Haag

    Uggh… I would rather make something new than to alter an existing garment. But yours was certainly worth the effort!

  • Oh, you’re certainly not alone in this. I hate doing alterations after finishing a garment. Ieuw! I’d rather make a new garment and experience the excitement of a shiny new project!

  • Oh, your Lola looks so comfortable! I just finished my first, and after letting those 3/8″ seams out as far as they would go it’s still just too small in the shoulders. I can wear it, but if I’m honest it’s just not comfortable. I’m with you (and everyone else) in that I hate doing altering garments, handmade or RTW. It’s never as bad as it seems though, and clearly it’s worth it in cases like yours! Your dress looks wonderful!

  • Donna

    I pretty much hate alteration. Even small alteration. Even though I know it would be worth it and I’d wear the garment, I can rarely get myself motivated to do it. So I’m surprised by your work here with Lola! ;)

  • It is so amazing to me that you patiently took apart every piece of this and put it back together! It looks amazing. I don’t know if I would have that kind of patience!

  • Tamsinwp

    I hate altering stuff too. I have a Pendrell that is just too big and it is the first thing I ever used my serger on. Everything that could be serged was, and I not sure I can face undoing it all. However, I love the fabric – Liberty – and it would be a shame not to wear it. Good save on the Lola though, just shows that it can be worth it!

  • Virginia Rand

    One of the advantages of fluctuating weight is that you’ll probably be big enough to fit in it again at some point. :-)

  • this dress was all serger, too (so many seams!) luckily I had used white thread because I was too lazy to change colors so it was easy to spot and rip out. who would have thought being lazy would pay off. ;) serger ripping is something you can do when you have time like watching tv. once that’s finished the rest seems to go so fast.

  • i think that’s ultimately the thing for me – if I *really* want to wear the garment I’ll take the time and alter it.

    thanks maddie!

  • thanks! i think my friend’s version just really gave me the kick in the bum to get it done.

  • me, too! i hate alterations! but sometimes they must be done lest the garment go to the bottom-drawer-of-death for ever.

  • thanks kelly! hmm, that’s interesting because I always assumed raglan sleeves to be pretty forgiving in the shoulder area. that’s one of those alterations that you probably can’t do unless you cut out entirely new pattern pieces. if you don’t have any more of your fabric could you do a color block thing and cut out bigger sleeves? that might give you enough room.

  • me, too, i generally just don’t like working on the same project for a long time so adding more work at the end with altering it is no fun. new projects are better!

  • I feel you on the uggh ;)

  • do it! it’s kind of like having a brand new dress once your done, at least for me because it had been so long since I last got to wear mine.

  • thank ya!

  • definitely not as glamorous and difficult to find motivation to do it but I think it’s worth it even if sewing something new is more fun.

    i wish i could get into dyeing more, how cool!

  • all your makes are chic and gorgeous. it would be a shame if the older ones couldn’t be worn. ;) thanks!

  • thanks! even small alterations like hemming seems so boring to me that i rarely do them. sometimes i need to just suck it up and take the time to work on small fixes.

    and as for this dress+leggins, it’s totally my new go-to winter winter outfit. so comfy!

  • THIS. yes, i completely know what you mean. i need the thrill!!

  • agreed. alterations do take a seemingly unnecessary about of time compared to new sewing. good luck with your alter-able sewing and weight loss!

  • ahh, side zips! i should have added that in my ‘barriers to alterations’ list. i don’t always sew side zips but when i do it’s usually because they can’t be placed in the back. i really hate taking out and re-sewing zippers!

    i should check out steph’s surgery, sounds interesting. thanks alessa!

  • yes, motivation is hard to come by for alterations. i’d contemplated making a brand new lola but wasn’t excited about searching for a new fabric and I loved the red sweatshirt knit so much that i finally decided to re-do it. i think if i had fabric in my stash that i liked i probably would have just sewn a brand new dress.
    thanks clio!

  • i agree, new > alterations, however i was pleasantly surprised at how much i wear this dress now that i’ve fixed it so i guess it was worth all the trouble.
    thanks ;)

  • Ha, I’m planning on just chopping the sleeves off :) No patience for cutting new pattern pieces! That does seem like the better solution, though, and I just got a bunch of fabric that would look pretty good color blocked… darn, now I have some thinking to do!

  • I do like the Lola pattern. Mine is a bit tight at the top, but I’m definitely making another for winter.

  • Tamsinwp

    I have just made myself a Lola and despite going with the finished measurements I ended up a frumpy baggy mess. And guess what – I serged it and had to unpick it ARGGGH!. Glad I did though – I might actually wear it now!