When shopping for clothes I like to comb the clearance racks. Similar to thrift shopping I don't worry about seasons or sizes but look for fabrics, patterns or details that I like. My tip? When you find something you like, buy TWO!
It may sound expensive but trust me, I often get better deals than if I had purchased at a thrift store. For example, I recently shopped the final clearance at JCPenney with an additional $10 off a $25 purchase coupon. I got seven things for $25 - $10=$15. That's a little more than $2 per item... and it's new, and usually more on trend than secondhand. Several items will be altered and a few were sweaters that were out of season for the store, but will be perfect for me this fall.
When you buy new, you can also often find more than one item and there is typically more stock of the extra large sizes, which is perfect for altering/refashioning clothing because it means you have more fabric to work with. It also solves the problem I mentioned in my last post of finding fabric to match the item you are trying to alter and almost always less expensive than buying additional fabric and notions.
For example, I found the following dresses on clearance at Forever21.com in their maternity section. (Tip: if you click on their maternity section and do a search for "maternity" at the top of their site you will get different results so be sure to try both.) Each dress was on clearance for less than $10 so I bought two of each. Compared to the dresses I was eyeing in maternity stores this was a great price.
For many, this first dress would work well as is, but for me it needed to be longer. This is probably the most basic and frequent alteration I have to make.
So from one of the dresses, I cut two equal width strips of fabric, pieced them together and gathered the top to make a ruffle. Then I sewed it onto the bottom of the other dress. Because the fabric matches perfectly, it's less obvious that it was ever altered. Plus, I still have plans for the remainder of the dress... as you will see in my next post.
This next dress needed a little more work. The color was so beautiful and I loved the draping, sheer over-layer. In addition to being too short as usual, it was also cut too deep in the front and the back and a positively shapeless and unflattering top altogether.
I used the bottom of both layers of one dress to add some length to the other dress. Then I used the knit layer of the rest of the skirt to make a cap-sleeve camisole tee (technically a half-tee as it doesn't go over my belly). To do this I just traced around the front and back of one of my SHADE shirts and sewed the two pieces together . I cut the rest of the sheer layers into two long strips and pieced them together to make the sash. To finish the sash I got to use my new rolled hem presser foot.
I liked the effect of the sash both in adding to the draping of the skirt as well as giving some shape to the waist/bust area of the dress.
So, there's nothing groundbreaking about anything I did, and that is exactly the point. Altering an item for modesty or making clothes fit and work for your style shouldn't be intimidating because it's usually very simple and can save you a lot of money and help you feel more comfortable in what you're wearing. Sometimes you just have to get over cutting into that dress and going for it... which I admit, is easier to do the less expensive the item was to begin with. Start with your sister's free cast-offs and work up your confidence to try other things.