The phone call went like this, “I have my mother’s wedding dress and I’m getting married in May and I have had a little trouble getting the zipper up”. I assured her that most dresses can be saved with a corset back and we made the appointment. Now, this bride lives almost 2 hours away and was willing to travel for a consultation.
Here is what we had to deal with:
OK, gasping time is over…let’s get real, people… First thing was to cut the sleeves off to see if we could get the shoulders up on her as she didn’t want them anyway. Then realizing that the zipper was never going to zip up, I ran ribbons across to keep the back together. With a gap of over 12 inches/30.4 cm even a corset back would not be enough.
Taking a look at the side seams, I decided that I would add two 4-inch wide panels made from the sleeves and also two 4-inch panels at the shoulder to drop the front darts in the bodice low enough to sit properly on her waist. Corset loops would be made for the full length of the zipper opening of 22 inches.
Besides all the upper alterations, the train would need 5 bustle points and I would have to remove the lower lace ruffle layer to use to replace some stained layers in the front of the skirt. Even adding side panels there would be a gap in the underarm section so that will need extra fabric too. Did I forget to mention that the bride does not want me to change any seams so that her daughter could wear this dress in the future? So in other words, everything that I do to get her into this dress must be able to be removed/reversed years down the line…nothing like having restrictions is there? No stress…
Have a look at this train…WOW! I have already removed the lowest layer of lace ruffle to fill in stained spots on the front ruffle and the satin lining will be trimmed and hemmed as well. The bustle will require 5 points just to get all of this fluff off the ground.
Let’s get started…make 22 inches of loops for the corset back and attach to the bodice.
Position the bodice on the waist and measure how wide the shoulder panels will have to be. Let out back darts, we don’t need them, see the punch holes in the satin from the factory?
Positioning the bodice on the enlarged mannequin, gives you an idea of what is needed to fill in the gaps.
With the side panels attached and shoulder panels attached you can see the curved underarm area that has to be filled in later. At this point you may be wondering…what are those little black things on the upper bodice? Well, they are glued-on fake pearls that have turned into little nasty lumps. The groom says he can paint over them with car model paints and make them white again.
The top edge of the skirt was just a jumble of thin cheap netting and all raw edges…makes you wonder what the procedure for the inside of gowns back then were. I removed the netting and reinforced the top of the skirt with white rayon hem tape. Then everything was clean finished with the serger.
Ever wonder how netted petticoats are made? Ever wonder how each layer of netting is attached equally down the netting base? How about following little marker holes cut/burned at the factory during cutting?
Next, attach the skirt and see how close it fits.
Even though this dress had been cleaned and stored in a box for 44 years…it had wine stains down the front ruffles and also the metal hooks and eyes left rust stains. I managed to get the rust stains out with my stain stick but the stained ruffle had to be replaced with cutting from the back hem ruffle.
Unto the second appointment:
There will be an armscye bust dart added/pinned and you can see the extra section that has to fill in under the arm.
But lo and behold, when I went to lace her up…look what happened!
No need for a corset back now! I will put in an invisible zipper and add grosgrain straps under the lace like she wanted to cover her bra straps. Adding 8 inches to the circumference has made such a difference and with the addition of 4 strips of boning in the side panels, new wide grosgrain ribbon straps under the lace, we may just have a winner on our hands!
So, let’s remove the skirt again and make all the side panels and underarm curved section.
Both panels are removed and darts drawn in, fronts and backs stacked.
Now for the fun part…the underarm section has a dart too…or does it? Let’s stack them and see if we can remove it.
It is a 2 inch wide dart
But not anymore…
Let’s make a paper pattern…make it with lace lined with the satin from the train.
Make the bust darts first…then attach the weird curved sections.
Add the curved panel which will have an edge binding later to join up with the straps. All seam allowances will be trimmed.
Hand baste in a new heavy duty invisible zipper and the 4 new boning strips.
Grosgrain ribbon straps basted under the lace to cover bra straps and lower lace ruffle removed and satin layer hemmed…all we need now is a body and everything can be finished…fingers crossed! Oh…we might add a belt…you never know! Final photos will be coming later!!! Thanks for sticking with me on this one!
Our 4 days away for my birthday were just magical and next time I will share a few photos when I can get Mr Mole to release them from his phone.
Happy Sewing, everyone!