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Some of our most common thrift store dilemmas are caused by armholes. Darn those armholes! If they are too big, they can turn a cute dress or top into a wardrobe malfunction. If they are too small or the sleeves attached to them are too tight, armholes can turn an outfit into a deodorant-gone-wrong commercial. Not pretty. You either have to leave that thrift store garment behind or roll up your sleeves (lol) for a little diy!
Lindee and I each ran into armhole dilemmas as we searched our favorite thrift stores for fall pieces. She found a dress with sleeves that were too tight, while I found a sleeveless dress with gaping armholes. My dress is midi length, made from a medium weight knit. I love midi/maxi dress for fall layering, and this one is super comfy! It’s also one of my wardrobe’s staple colors- black. Must fix this!
I turned the dress inside out and tried it on. I pinched the fabric under the arms to see how much extra room there was. Using tailors chalk, I tried to mark where the seam should go. This is a little awkward to do on yourself if you don’t have a dressform (still on my Christmas list), but make your best guess. Doing it in front of a mirror helps.
Next, I laid the dress flat and using my original chalk marks as a guide, I marked where the new seam should be under each arm.
Ok, time to see if our chalk mark estimates are correct! I pinned and then stitched along the marks using a contrasting thread and big stitches. (I want to be able to easily remove these stitches if my estimate needs adjusting.)
I tried on the dress, and the arm holes fit well. (In hind sight, I would probably extend the stitching a couple inches longer down the dress. This would help trim a little extra fabric in the bust area.) But now it’s time to stitch this thing for real! I replaced the colored thread on my machine with black and selected a stitch designed for knit fabric. Of course, I was already using a ball point needle, knit fabric’s best friend. Check the stitching recommendations and needle requirements for YOUR machine. You will thank yourself many times over for your heroic efforts.
Since I stitched right over my bright colored stitches, I carefully removed them with a seam ripper. This is an optional step, but the OCD among us may find it necessary, as I did.
Hurrah! We now have a dress with non-gapey-armholes! Time to try styling it for fall!
Now let’s see what magic Lindee works on her sleeves-are-too-tight dress!
Thanks Brit! I recently picked up a cute piece from a clothing swap only to discover that the short sleeve tunic shirt was too tight under the arms. Because it fit well everywhere else and was the perfect fall color, I was determined to come up with a solution for a problem I run into all the time.
The 3 step solution!
Take off the sleeves. DO NOT CUT! I stitch ripped the sleeve seams to remove the sleeves. Since the armholes are too small, the more fabric you have to work with the easier it is to fix.
Try it on!!! Now that the sleeves are gone it should not be so tight. Estimate how wide you want the hem and if you need to adjust the arm holes in any way, do so before you hem.
Hem the arm holes. Bam! Done! (I ended up doing a rolled hem because the silky fabric of the dress unraveled easily.)
The finished product!