Simple Bridal Darts

When the phone rings and it is the bride’s mother asking for an appointment I ask two questions; when is the wedding and what do you want altered.

Usually the first question is answered quickly except in one case this season the answer was “I don’t know maybe in a year or so when my divorce comes through” with screaming children and brand new baby crying in the background. She made the appointment and then never showed up. My hubby said that maybe it was a situation where the girl forgot to mention this to the boyfriend but went ahead and bought a dress on her own. Once he found out the matter was null and void.

But the second answer goes like this for 90% of the clients; “It needs a little tightening under the arms”, “it is a simple alteration and will not take you very long.”
That is when I mention inside side seams are rows of boning and if there is a slope down to the center back, as with 90% of strapless dress, taking in a side seam makes a step-down junction and the front section must be shaved down to meet the back so you will lose boob coverage. My first choice is always going in through the zipper to do tightening up.

So when the Casablanca dress showed up last week and I photographed it for you along with the 3 others maybe the thread tracings did not show up. Here is what the bride’s mother told me over the phone: “We bought the dress at a high end salon in Eugene and it was custom made to order.” Since the Casablanca website shows the dress with spaghetti straps and this one is strapless it surely must have been made to order and thus the reason for all the vertical boning. “They told us a seamstress could just take a few darts in the bodice to make it fit in the bust area.” WHAT? Why can’t a custom made dress fit a girl without darts and extra padded bra cups sewn in?

First, I pinned out a 3/4 inch dart on each side of the upped edge of the bodice. Then I thread traced the center line front and lining as there were those pesky but necessary boning lines to avoid.

Then what to do with the attached lace motifs? Surely one cannot just grab that dart and sew it without opening the top seam (understitched) and take in the beaded fabric and lining separately? Well you know there are people out there who would and make a real “dog’s dinner” of it thus leaving a lump. So here is what I did…carefully remove the lace motifs (stitched down with invisible nylon thread, Lord help me!) and flip it back on itself after removing all the beads and crystals and sequins and saving them for re-attachment later. Then we go inside between the lining and fabric and open the seam and pin out the darts in order to baste them.

See the already padded bra cup detached for access, I will add another padded bra cup later.

Now compare the darts as they have to sew together at the top and lay flat. Both remove 3/4 inch excess. Also compare what the look like on the outside:

Then we go ahead and sew them each and then sew them together, re-attach the bra cups and flip the whole thing right side out and re-attach the lace motifs and add all the beads and crystals and sequins that we originally removed so no one will know and this is what you get:


Pretty nice and you will also notice that I did a row of backstitches about 3/8 inch from the top edge to hold the lining down as before all this alteration it was creeping up and out of the dress and could be seen. The weird thing was there was nothing holding the lining inside so it could sneak up at will.

SO there we go…a “simple set of darts”… lots of hand labor for something that should have been made correctly from the beginning.

Next time more “simple” alterations that never take much time…BALONEY!

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13 Responses to Simple Bridal Darts

  1. theresa says:

    Patience thy name is Fit for a Queen!

  2. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Theresa!

  3. Alethia says:

    ” “It needs a little tightening under the arms”, “it is a simple alteration and will not take you very long.”
    This is a repeated conversation. Those who never sew, sew a little, or don’t sew at all, always thinks it’s just a “simple task”.
    WHY-WHY-WHY !!!!!
    “We bought the dress at a high end salon in Eugene and it was custom made to order.”

    They sold her some hog wash at the very beginning.
    Custom-made means it was made specifically to fit the BUYER.
    I’m gonna leave that alone…..geesh!!!!!!

  4. mrsmole says:

    It just makes a seam-stress want to scream…no wonder “stress” is part of our job description.

  5. I am that person who would sew a new dart without unpicking the lining/facing – but that is only on clothes for myself and when the “dogs dinner” is in a skirt and will be hidden by a top. There is a reason I will never, ever do alterations for anyone. I think I’d be in jail for murder after one week of doing your job!

  6. mrsmole says:

    Not everyone is cut out to be a seamstress/alteration slave girl so it is a good thing you recognize this. Some babes just pass themselves off as professionals and turn out bad work and the rest of us and my sewing sisters in the area end up re-doing their work…that is when I tell the client READ ONLINE REVIEWS!

    • Alethia says:

      I tell people that all the time, ” Everybody that say they sew, might not specialize in what you want…” I always tell them to check the person’s work before they commit.

  7. Pingback: Busted | fit for a queen

  8. Lori says:

    Thank You for the walk through on a SMALL sewing task. Very helpful.

  9. Patti says:

    Great pictures and instructions. It is always nice to see how other people do things. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Chris says:

    I need to learn this alteration. I’m wondering how long should
    this “small job” take ?

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Chris, I looked back through my sewing invoices and found out what I charged back in 2012 for labor time:
      Make 2 darts in top edge of front bodice, remove beads
      Remove lace motifs, take in dress and lining
      Re-attach beads and lace motifs 2 hours
      Looking back it was probably more like 3 hours with the hand work re-attaching beads and lace motifs, so there you go.

  11. Chris says:

    I need to do this alteration. How much time should this take do you think?

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