Every client who wants a tighter fit in her bodice tells me, “you can just take in the side seams a little”. Most don’t realize that is exactly where the manufacturer places the boning either in the fabric seams or the lining seams and that involves removing it, snugging up both seams (which will be 4 separate stitching lines) and then replacing the boning. It also involves maybe opening the waist line seam if there is one to manage all this stitching. It also will involve detaching the lining from the fabric at the underarm seam which may or may not have piping…simple isn’t it…NOT. Here is the other feature of making changes in an underarm seam while it does snug up things, it may have a deep curve so when you are done, the armhole it too tight and higher. Is there another way?
In my world, I stand behind the girl and grab the fabric on both sides of the zipper and pull tight and ask her if this is what she wants it to feel like. Normally in brides it helps pull the boned cups closer to her body and she likes that. In bridesmaids and prom dresses it helps hold the strapless concoction up for the evening without the girl having to spend her time tugging it up. They get a big smile and I know this is the solution. So while holding on to the client like a mother cats grabs her kittens by the scruff of the neck, I pin out the excess through all layers of the zipper sides in a vertical line as far as I need…normally just past the waist with the most fabric pinned out at the top. My fingers are crossed that the top portion is not more than 1 inch on each side but I have had to remove up to 2 inches on each side at times. The more you remove/slide the zipper over, the further away the top of the zipper will be in the finished project…remember geometry? As the zipper is angled away from center back the length of the area grows and you will have a gap at the top edge.
After the client departs I thread trace the new zipper teeth line with red thread but not through to the lining. On this dress the lining is separate so it is treated separately. Some days you get lucky and the lining is attached to the fabric first and treated as one unit. On this project I had to thread baste a line of stitching to hold the (I hate glitter) netted pleats away from the new zipper teeth line before pinning the invisible zipper down. If you need to hand baste the zipper after pinning, (to make sure horizontal lines match up well) go ahead before you machine stitch.
As we come up to the top just carry on and stitch over the flipped over corner. Then another step I usually don’t do is to topstitch the pleats but these little suckers are bound to crawl right into the teeth and snag and rip…who needs that?
So are we done yet? What happens to the lining? It is folded under the same amount that you moved the zipper over. I don’t trim anything away. In fact, I tell the client this is so she can sell or give this dress to someone who is larger and they/
the next poor seamstress can let all this out to the original seam lines. They all seem to think this is a good idea…for me it makes me seem kind and planning for their future…it is a selling feature.
I hand sew the lining to the zipper tape and along the top edge before attaching a hook and eye. The tiny stitches will not be seen from the right side and for those of you who think this should be done by machine…have at it! So many dresses don’t have open area where you can maneuver attaching the lining back the way it was so for me, hand sewing is faster.
Give all the layers a shot of steam and move on to the next one waiting in line. I know this seems scary and drawn out but after the first 100 you can get pretty fast and eliminate a couple steps. I charge one hour labor for this but if the lining is attached in the first place it goes faster.
Whew…it’s time for a diet Dr. Pepper after this!