Dress hacks.

I love high street fashion, but it does come with a few draw backs that can spoil the fun.

1. Not thought out

often items bought from the high street can look amazing but once you get them home you think ‘how the hell do I wash ostrich feathers/ sequins? can I be arsed to spend 4 hours ironing the pleats back in?’

2. One size fits all

of course the standard high street cuts and shapes aren’t the funny bobbly shape I am, so personally I come across a few problems- not enough room across the bust for my lady lumps and too much room in the waist in items that can get round my bum.

3. Cheap

high street stuff is cheap to make so I have to stop wishing that my topshop items will end up being vintage heirlooms in the future. Things need fixing after the wear and tear provided by sitting at a computer all day and sitting in a pub at night. It happens.

Here are a few of my hacks to make my cheap clothing more suited to Jess living and have constituted as my latest sewing adventures.


I loved the fabric of this dress but found the cap sleeves were designed for those with skeletal arms or those whose activities happen exclusively below shoulder height. (This came as a shock to me as I have very weedy arms. On a rare occasion I do bicep curls with a weighted Sellotape dispenser at my desk in search of a sculpted, muscular arm…no change yet.)

To increase the width of the sleeve I inserted a triangular section of fabric to widen it. I chose contrasting colour and texture.

Just cut a slit in the sleeve and then pin in the new piece of fabric- I did it all in one stop so the new fabric and sleeve were seamed all at once.

I have another dress with this problem and I plan to use some faux leather as is so very popular at the moment and might add some other leather details whilst in there, such as a trim round the neckline.


I bought an amazing dress with this beautiful flowing dusky pink ombre fringe coming from a cape section on the back. It was a brilliant dress, until I had to wash the bugger.

The fringe used was a straight fringed meaning every beautiful strand was unfinished and as soon as it got near the washing machine it started to fray and unravel resulting in a tangled mess.

I have tried a number of methods to avoid this happening, such as washing in a pillow case, twisting and securing the fringe and a delicates wash- a hand wash just didn’t cut if after the dress had be subject to a night of disco dancing Jess.

I just grabbed my trusty seam ripper and removed the old fringe and replaced it with this minty green. The replacement fringe was looped, this means it can survive the wash without unraveling- I’d advise when using fringe on any project to go for looped, it’s worth it in the long run. This is one of several items I have had to re-fringe for the same reason. You’d think I’d have learnt by now, but I haven’t because when I see fringed stuff I just get an ‘Almost Famous’ haze and buy it anyway.


I often find in dresses that have higher necklines that there’s not enough room across the bust for me to wear them comfortably, this often results in a kind of uni-boob. The kind of uni-boob that invites drunk people to want to tell me their woes whilst relaxing on said uni-boob type of uni boob.
I have tried buying a bigger size but then my waist and bottom half are swapped and the fitting around the back is baggy and misshapen.

A quick fix I have found for this is to alter the zipper. This can be a pain but often frees just enough space to be a bit comfier.

Again with my trusty seam ripper I remove the zip, which has been sewn in tight to the seams to be invisible. I will then reset the zip using a little extra allowance from the fabric and also the tape of the zip. This can look a little strange but if the zip is matched in colour and using a matching thread it can be quite conspicuous.

Another option would be to remove and invisible zip and add a chunky metal zip to be one of those exposed zips and the zipper tape is top stitched onto the outside of the garment. I have used this to add a little space to the waistline of skirts.

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