An Expert at Work

Fatima came to visit a few weeks ago and for once, we took photos of a few garments before they were altered so that you could see how they were altered and what a difference alterations make.
What follows is a true story.

This is me anticipating Fatima’s visit. Very exciting to have a visitor and particularly Fatima!
A visit!

Irresistible denim top
In the list of Directrice Staples, we must save a space for denim tops because I am a fan.
I bought this Comme des Garcons top from The RealReal very early in the pandemic because, in my belief system, charming denim tops should not be resisted.

It had so much going for it: interesting lines, slim fitting (but not tight) sleeves, the perfect color/wash, gold top-stitching, plus a gratuitous, abdomen-enlarging (but fun) bow. Surely you can understand why I was smitten.
Unfortunately, the top was a bit big. Fortunately, the pandemic gave me many months to contemplate the ways in which it could be taken in.
I’ve had a lot of time with my thoughts in the last 16 months

I am letting you see this unflattering photo because I love you
This photo better shows the poor fit.
It also shows a humorous aspect of the design: darts at the bust that create . . . pointy denim breasts? OK.

For those who are squinting at these pictures, questioning my choices, perhaps now is a good time for a refresher on Comme des Garcons.
This is a prime example of Comme des Garcons.
Take a long look and then scroll back up and give my little denim top a second look. Who’s not weird now?
To be fair, this dress is a runway design, not RTW.
I must confess that this armless dress — not sleeveless, armless — is beyond me; I do like the sneakers, however

Those of you who sew have probably solved the puzzle.
This top can be taken in most easily at the center seams — one goes straight down the front and there is a zipper down the center of the back. The bow remains untouched because I wanted to keep the volume below the natural waistline.
This photo is killing me. I am not sure exactly what was going on or being said, but it looks as though my reaction is, “You honor me!”
The Directrice, upon receiving a MacArthur Foundation grant for her work on this blog

Why am I grinning?
This photo is only included because I am grinning so gleefully. Why?

  • Because so much is being accomplished?
  • Because clothes are fun?
  • Because it is such a relief to be back in Fatima’s expert hands?

Yes, yes, and yes!

And chalked!

Flash forward a few weeks: my little top fits perfectly.
Bear in mind, it’s not supposed to fit snugly. The shoulders are exactly where they should be, the neckline sits flat against the back of my neck and fits closely around my neck, and the rest neatly follows my shape.
Ta da

Don’t you already have a short-sleeved denim top?
I don’t know what you’re talking about*

and only slightly transgressive

For those who want a close-up of this slightly strange feature . . .
The abdomen-enhancing detail

And that’s how it happens!
A tip: When you are contemplating alterations, have your tailor show you how the garment is constructed — take note of all the seams and think about where a line can be reduced but replicated. When you look, you will see, and the more you do it, the better you become at it.
Was this helpful? Interesting?
Since downtown emptied out last year, Fatima has been working out of her house and meeting clients at their houses or offices. If you are in need of alterations or ambitious dress-making, you are in need of Fatima. Her work is meticulous and inspired, and she brings both enthusiasm and patience to fittings. Post a comment and I’ll send you all of her contact information via email.
And that’s how a bill becomes a law

* I had two denim tops: this one from 2016 and this one from 2019. Now I have three.

14 thoughts on “An Expert at Work”

  1. Fatima is clearly a very talented person. The top is charming and just so slightly puckish at the same time. Just like its wearer.

  2. “A tip: When you are contemplating alterations, have your tailor show you how the garment is constructed — take note of all the seams and think about where a line can be reduced but replicated. When you look, you will see, and the more you do it, the better you become at it.“

    Oh D., wouldn’t it be great if you and F. could do this on a video or a Zoom call sometime? I’m sure nobody does it better than y’all! Does F. do virtual consultations? If so, please hook me up with her contact info. Thanks!

    • Fatima does — she and I met over Zoom. You can reach her at 571/313-9760 or In case anyone is horrified that I am posting this contact information: I asked Fatima and she said I should post this information on my blog. She would be delighted to meet any and all of you!

  3. By Jove, I never thought The Directrice would ever vent into bullet-bra-adjacent territory! While it was too much pre-alteration, the final effect is both alluring and pretty badass. Brava to seamstress and model!

    • Thank you for providing the words, Marie, because I couldn’t think what, exactly to call it. I should have delved deeper into the Madonna/Jean Paul Gaultier era costumes!

  4. “Bullet-bra-adjacent,” Marie you made my morning! Directrice — I’m not sure which I like better the pointy bits or the big bow! I just had an appointment with my tailor, Rina. I’m going to turn two silk Momoni dresses into blouses. Why I ever thought I needed two wafty, silky, causal, somewhat sexy dresses reminiscent of the early 60s is beyond me. So glad for the expertise of people like Rina and Fatima to turn mistakes into successes!

  5. Great to see Fatima! I love this top! I have a thing for fabric bows on shoes, and this one reminds me of that kind of thing. And, really, the pointy bullet boobs are quite charming on you. They go with your pointed humor!

  6. Denim fitted tops are the bomb – I liked reviewing the one you posted about before as well. Fatima deserves many kudos!

    I also liked seeing your specs in the first photo! More photos with specs please!

  7. I didn’t find the top to be “wierd” at all. It’s very flattering on you and it must be nice to have such a talented tailor available.

  8. I learned to sew in Junior High and Girl Scouts, and never made anything that I actually wore, but it was a valuable education in how clothing is constructed. Knowing that makes deciding about changing them much more productive.

    It is a nice shirt, and Fatima has earned every penny she charged to modify it.


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