Thursday, February 3, 2011


I thought perchance some few of you might be interested in seeing what I do for a living. Or, at any rate, how it works. Some of you know what I do for a living, having been the recipient of said...doing.
So, without further ado-alterations on a dress. Terribly exciting, no?
Here is the before.

This is the dress as it came to me. Many of my clients purchase dresses from a lovely woman who lives about an hour from me. She owns a lovely dress shop in Newport Beach, CA, but brings her samples and "expired" styles here and sells them at a crazy discount. Then she sends the brides to me for alterations. This being Utah, most of my alterations clients are LDS and thus, won't be wearing strapless gowns, so I end up adding shoulders/sleeves to a lot of gowns. Good times.
So, little bridey wanted quite a few changes made to this dress. First off, it was too short, so we need to lower it 2"
Second, it needs sleeves.
Third, she wanted a ruched midsection, as she felt this would make her look thinner.
Also, a french bustle, take in the back and raise the back neckline.

Okay, so step one is to remove the skirt.

There is no extra hem in this dress, so in order to lengthen it, we have to add some length to the bodice. This is possibe because of the ruched midriff, which will cover up the seam.
Step number next, I need to remove the bottom of the bodice. Under the ruching, all of that lovely beading would be hidden, so there is no reason to waste it. I will be using some of it to raise the back neckline, anyhoo.
In order to do this, I measure up from the bottom an equal amount, then I use this piece as a pattern to cut the new longer piece, to lengthen the bodice.

Okay, so the new lower part of the bodice is on, two inches longer than the previous. It looks wonky because silk satin has a way of rolling up when cut on the grain. It is very annoying.
Now, we add the ruching. This part is a pain in the butt and usually takes me at least two tries to get it lay properly. I mostly just pin and drape, as I am too lazy to make a pattern. Go me.

Now I take the beaded back pieces I cut off the bottom and I am going to move them to the top to raise the center back up some. I don't love the way I did this and had I to do it again (no doubt I will) I will do it differently, but anyway, here it is.

Sorry, kind of a lousy photo. Looks pretty weird, though, no? Don't worry, it gets better.
Okay, next step, add the sleeves/shoulders. These are cut in one sleeves, which means there is no armscye seam. In order for them to cover what they need to, but still allow enough room to move, I cut the armscye really large and then run some elastic in it. This only works on the shirred sleeves, as it looks really stupid on a flat one.

Okay, we are getting close to putting the whole thing back together again. So, now all that is done, I reattach the skirt, put the zipper back in on the new, tighter line and embroider and bead the blank area and seam where I joined the new piece to the upper back.




As you can see, it is now too small for my mannequin. Damn tiny brides.
It still needs a bit of finessing, and I am not sure I like the shape of the upper back line, in fact, I think I will change it a bit, but I got tired after sewing most of the day. I will finish it tomorrow morning before she gets here. Still need to tack down the top fold of the ruching, make sure all the threads get trimmed and steam it.
All told, this is about 6-7 hours worth of work. I didn't really keep very good track, I did it all today. Betwixt and between, I played with my daughter, read my email, checked Ravelry, know. The usual.
I will post the final (prettier) pic tomorrow. If I remember.
Was that boring? Probably, but people ask me a lot how it works, so, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.


Kaytee Postma said...

I've always said you were amazingly talented!

Katya said...

What size is your dress form?


lillysmum said...

KJ, my dress form is a size 2 hip/waist and a 4 bust.

Katya said...

Wow. That's tiny!

I remember having issues during the year I worked at a department store because the mannequins were size 6, but they couldn't suck in their stomachs to put on a pair of pants, so sometimes we had to go up a size and then pin them.