Altering clothes sewing machine-lessly

Machine-less is a word I just made up. It means tailoring without a machine.

There are a lot of reasons someone wouldn’t want to use a machine. Whether they’re borrowing the clothes, have issues with permanent changes, or are afraid of making a mistake, whatever it is, they just don’t want to tear or sew anything up.

I personally am afraid of making mistakes, or changing my mind. So this technique works great.

Two words: safety pin.

These magical devices can help shortening, taking in, pulling together, holding apart. They’re nifty. My favorite use for them is to shorten old dresses (because I find measuring, cutting, and pinning to be so tedious). 
My Abuelita has been living at a pleasant little convalescent home for just about a year. She used to live with us, but we’ve had to get rid of a lot of her things in the move. However, I’ve inherited her jewelry and quite a few articles of clothing that were just too interesting to give away.
This dress (sorry, I still haven’t found a way of taking pictures of myself modeling the clothes yet) is actually pretty modern looking. It just needed a bit of shortening to give it a fresh look.
In short: turn the dress inside out and fold the bottom of the skirt up to the desired height, pinning the original it in it’s place to each of the side hems, left side and right side. You really only need two pins.
The skirt has to be straight to do this, though. If it fans out and you try this technique, the middle will sag. 
My favorite way of doing this is by wearing the dress inside out and standing in front of a mirror with safety pins in hand. Trace your fingers down both of the side hems until you get to the bottom. Fold the bottom of the skirt up, until it’s at what looks like the desired length in the mirror. You can pin it here, but if you’re bending over, you’re actually making the dress shorter than it looks, so you’ll want to pin it up a bit higher. Once you’ve straightened, you’ll see the skirt go down a bit. You want to pin to the side hems of the dress. The cloth is folded here so you’ll be able to stick the pin to it, without any metal showing on the outside of the skirt. Turn it inside out again and try it on to see what you think.
Of course, you could always do this without trying on the dress. Stand behind the dress, looking in the mirror, and put a safety pin in front to mark how short you want it, then fold the skirt up to that mark and pin that way. 
You also want to make sure that it’s raised equally on both sides (like, if you pinned one side to your armpit and the other to your waist, type thing. That’d look weird). I use my fingers as measurements, or with this dress, it was easy because I think I just pinned it to the armpits, or the waistline, I’ve forgotten somehow. This really isn’t as hard as it sounds. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just find something to measure from, like a hemline, or a pattern on the cloth, or finger width. 
Be sure not to cut the fabric when you’re
removing the shoulder pads.
PS. Sorry my hands look weird.
What a “hanging there” shoulder pan looks like.

Another little project about old clothes is shoulder pads. . Shoulder pads make me look like a football player with a peanut head. I can’t pull them off, so I snip them. This is pretty easy as long as the shoulder pads aren’t sewed into the shoulder (as opposed to just hanging inside). Snip, snip, add some heels, a belt, and a necklace, and this dress can be worn both professionally and funky.

The pictures aren’t very good at showing much of anything, I apologize. It happened to be late, and on top of that I have other pictures that won’t upload. I’ll just have to rely in faith on my description skills to guide you. 

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