Sunday, February 10, 2013

Clothing options for dowagers hump

The past year or two finding tops to fit over my mom's severe dowagers hump is impossible so I alter off-the-rack tops to fit her.   I use an old method that my grandma taught me when she made or altered clothes. She used patterns that she knew were too big to make the garment then she'd have the "wearer" put it on inside out and pinch darts or seams where needed to get a better fit specific to "that" body. 

So - now I buy tops for Mom that are too large, put them on her inside out and just start pinching fabric to make darts around the neck and upper body until the garment appears to fit better.  Then I take it off and stitch up the darts.    Often the altered top ends up being much shorter in back and longer in front so start with long garments to end up with something that has enough fabric to cover the back and still be long enough to come down beyond the waist.

Here are some tips that help ensure each is a success:
  1. practice with really cheap or used clothes, just TRY IT and you'll get the hang of it.
  2. try knit fabrics first, zig-zag the end of fabric before hemming, 
  3. when hemming, it's likely you'll have to sew across the bias (across the weave) since the fabric will fall at an angle from the back due to the rounded hump.  This takes some practice so give yourself a couple of inches of fabric BELOW where the hem will be to help with "smoothing" the hemline. 
  4. try some additional seems along the sides  - think princess seams - to help remove extra "bulk" around the middle.  don't be afraid to stitch it up and cut off the fabric after a few fittings to ensure it's a good fit. , if you get something large enough to fit over the back area, it's likely to be too big around the middle which will cause extra folds and unwanted bulk, the seams will help remove the bulk.
  5. don't use tops with "shirt-type" collars, they are too hard to alter. 
  6. be prepared to re-hem the garment and cut off a lot in the front. 
  7. be sure to measure and pin the hem when the top is ON your elder, this ensures it's long enough and even.  
  8. use safety pins to keep the darts instead of straight pins; this prevents getting poked.
Good luck!

Here are links to other sources for information on sewing or fashions for clothing with dowagers hump:
Louisiana arthritis clinic
Rusty Bobbin blog
Threads magazine article on dowagers hump  (one of my fave magazines by the way)
Silverts for special needs or "adaptive" clothing

clothing for dowagers hum, clothes to  cover dowagers hump