Back in 1953, brides wore gloves and covered their shoulders with bolero jackets and gave little thought to who would wear their dresses again.
This dress was tossed into a dress-up box for the grandchildren to use when they played. Sadly the jacket went missing.
Sixty-three years later the great-granddaughter has an idea to wear the dress for her wedding and great grandma approves. Repairs have to be made like replacing a broken zipper, tears in the tulle layers, tears to the center front pleating and evening up the satin hem. Oh, and figuring out how to find more ease in the bodice and what can be done to keep it from falling down.
With push-up bust cups pinned in, we try out different strap options.
Tulle sleeve/straps solve two problems in front and back and still look feminine.
Then we try out a halter style which makes the bride very happy to know that the grosgrain ribbon can be covered with tulle to match her dress and she will feel secure while dancing. The designs on the front are little velvet, yes, velvet appliques with tan beads. The halter angles compliment the front tulle collar “V” section.
Let’s remove the broken zipper:
Even though this was a RTW gown, the previous seamstress took in the side seams unequally and the boning was covered and stitched on by hand. Luckily, I was able to take the side seams back to the original position. The grandmother admitted that this dress was played in and even was worn to climb trees by all the grandchildren through the years never thinking that it would be ever worn again for a wedding. After all, it was not her dress…it was her mother’s.
The fact that all the boning was covered, pinked and stitched into place with long hand stitches really makes sense for alterations! How practical…snip threads, remove, alter a seam and tack it back into place! Now I wish all boning was done this way!!!
When the previous seamstress took in the side seams, she stacked them, flipped them and tacked them both forward leaving a huge ridge inside.
I will take the stitching back to the original line and open the seams and press them flat but not trim them for the next seamstress.
Another victim of the dressing up days is the hem…the original horsehair braid had a drawstring at the top to make it curve but a lot of it has been caught and stretched out and the hem itself is so uneven and droops below the tulle layers. The hem will be leveled to the level of the tulle and netting.
There are also spaces where the braid is frayed away:
One of the holes in the tulle top layer was jagged. Instead of just trying to get both edges together and hope for the best, I used the technique that plastic surgeons use on skin. The top and bottom edges are elongated to make sharp points that will lie flatter after stitching. How do I know this? Well, last July I had a large skin cancer removed from my face and this is how it was done to minimize a scar.
I use invisible poly thread to sew the edges back together by hand. Now the hole is just a line that will blend in with the rest of the skirt…it’s not great but it works.
The other place that needed fixing is the front…it had a 45 degree tear inside and out and I used the same clear thread to repair it.
You can also see the velvet applique pieces up close here:
We add some bust cups and she is ready to walk down the aisle. So far no one has shown the photos of the alterations to great grandma as they are afraid she might cry…they are waiting for the day of the wedding when the bride reveals the dress in person. OH MY…get the tissues ready!
Yes, under all the tulle at center front, it goes unnoticed…the front top of the center satin skirt seam has been caught and makes a pleat/pucker. Who knows how long it has been there…since day one? I will release it so it lays flat.
New center back zipper:
Just before the final day, the bride drops off a darling matching flower girl dress to be hemmed that has buttons down the back and I suggest that we add buttons on her dress too:
Modern additions done and just in time for a change in the weather…from the 50’s a week ago to the 90’s this week…happy squash and tomatoes!