Some days I feel like Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone series back in the 1960’s where he opens each program with the statement, “Imagine, if you will…”
So, imagine if you will, a wedding dress created by a seamstress who uses her Disney costume making background as her qualifications to charge $500 for this dress:
Now, if you have been following me for some time, you know that bust points and princess seams are never 5 inches apart and normal would be 8-10 +. So without a pattern this dress was whipped up without much regard for fitting well.
The unlined sleeves were gathered unto a very high armhole, the hips were too tight, the lining was 2 inches less in circumference than the dress and the lining hung 3 inches below the hem while the hem was 3 inches too short. Bad enough but the bride had asked for a high neck collar and removable lace bustle and tapered skirt. We did mange to zip up the center lapped zipper but the bride could not even take a breath. In the back photo, the original zipper was removed in preparation for an invisible one later.
You can see that the lining was attached after the zipper was stitched and just laid beside the teeth and double stitched over the first stitching adding lots of puckering. All stitching on this dress was double stitched using a 1.5 stitch length…really nasty to remove and leaving tracks in the satin.
Armhole double stitching to be removed and lining tacked to bust points of satin…who does that?
Looking inside we find rows of “shark’s teeth” seam allowances in lining and satin. Because the lining restricted the zipper from closing, I compared the circumferences and discovered the lining was over 2 inches smaller so all the vertical seams were let out as much as possible but avoiding more raveling as they were all unfinished.
Once all the layers were equalized, they were basted by hand on all edges before tackling the front panel. Another disturbing feature was the many black pencil marks on the seam lines.
In order to add a patch (to make a new pattern for a new panel) down the center front to widen the bust points to 8 inches, I had to stitch 2 vertical rows before cutting between them with pinking shears:
Let’s add a temporary white poly vertical patch and a new invisible zipper:
Even though there are tons of wrinkles still in the photo on the mannequin, on a real body they do mostly disappear.
You can see we are getting closer to fitting properly but the issue becomes the hem. A lace strip is proposed along with making the hem edge equal all around first and narrowing the skirt. The wrinkles in the sleeves and back princess seams are due to the fact that they have not been dropped in the armhole, nor trimmed and pressed.
Did I fail to mention that this stiff satin fabric from JoAnn’s has a very strange vertical stretch like a knit so any vertical stitching causes the fabrics to grow? I believe it was from the Home Dec section and should have been used for drapes, pillows or to cover a headboard. The satin had no crosswise stretch and the poly lining had no stretch at all, so not too compatible to start with!
First the lace panel was zigzagged to the belt, then flipped and hand stitched on the top and bottom edge. Five large snaps were attached to hold this bustle/back apron together tightly without drooping.
Then at the try-on, the lace bustle was trimmed to floor level.
What next? The high neck collar from a straight strip of the bustle lace. It has to go around a curve so the seam allowance had to be slashed to sit flat and a bias strip of lining attached to the inside seam allowance to cover the raw edges:
After all the seams were pressed flat and trimmed, the seams looked as good as they could and the bride was happy.She decided on the lace hem with no gathers.
If you want to see over 60 photos taken during this transformation and 20 hours of labor I have created a Pinterest page to view them: https://www.pinterest.com/surroundedbywhi/trainwreck-to-wearable/
This was my last dress of 2015 before I closed the sewing room for a break.
Thank you for reading through all of this and I wish you happy sewing!