Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Altering Winter Ball Dress For Princess Five

I found a beautiful formal ball or prom gown at a second hand store. They received a large donation of "sample" gowns from a bridal and gown store. 
Many were new with tags and some had "Sample" stamped on them on the back top edge of the dress. It was $15 but since it had the word "Sample" on the upper back, I asked them to lower the price as the dresses that didn't have the stamp were $15 so I got the dress for $7 and it was new.  

We actually bought three of the gowns that day as Princess Five was with me and she tried on many of the gowns and she chose three or four as they were all around $15 or less for new dresses.
She bought a few options for prom and is excited for that but I really love this dress on her and she looks so classical in it. It is a very timeless dress.

First, to take in a dress at the top, you need to determine if you can just take it in on the sides and make it snug enough all the way around. 

With this dress, that isn't an option. If you can, just take in the sides under the arm and you can either pinch it and mark it with a pin to show you how much you need to take it in, or you can have them try it on inside out to determine how much and then pin it on the inside where you will be sewing it. 

With this dress, it has a full sewn in liner and you can't have them wear it inside out if it is like that. If it has a "sewn at the waist liner," you can either take the liner in with the dress and pin it when it is on inside out, or if you want a more finished look, you can unpick a portion of the waist liner and then take in the dress the amount needed and then restitch the liner after you have altered the dress.   
With this one, the liner was open so I went up between the slip/liner and the dress and was able to get the the seams in the bodice area. 

If the dress isn't snug enough just by taking in the side seam, you may need to take in the darts. You can search my blog for "dance dress" in the search box at the bottom of the page and there are many dresses that I have altered by adding sleeves, taken in, making a jacket out of sections of the dress we took off etc. 

There is no "set rule" for altering dresses as each dress is different and each girl wearing the dress is different so these are just "general" suggestions or guides as each dress will also be made differently as well.
I had a printed center section that I didn't want to alter much and the front panel was a bit too large and was gaping open when she was standing even when I took in the sides so I had to alter the front panel. By unpicking the seam at the breast-line, I was able to keep the seam on the shoulder side the same but to take in the center seam in about 1/2 to 3/4 inch making the center piece still be centered yet giving it the form of the breast and keeping the cute decoration in the center of the piece centered. It no longer pokes out making it awkward if her date is taller than her, he could have seen down the front of her dress as it pooched out.  
MAKE SURE YOU DON'T TAKE IT IN TOO MUCH OR IT WILL LEAVE NEEDLE MARKS PERMANENTLY ON SOME FABRICS!!! Go slowly and do small amounts when taking it in as you can always take it in more but letting it out may not be an option. 

The other warning is to NOT measure it to take it in when they have their arms in the air!!! Raising the arms thins the chest and when they put their arms down, it WILL be tighter. Always pin it and then have them try it on BEFORE stitching it!!

When hemming it, make sure they are wearing the shoes they will wear with the dress. You would hate to cut or hem the dress with them in flats and then have them want to wear heels to a dance. I always try to do a blind hem stitch by hand on formal dresses so it can easily be modified for different heels or girls. Funny enough, not one of my girls has worn a dress their sister wore for any prom or dance of any kind. It is weird because for awhile, they were all the same size but they each have different tastes and styles so we get what they like so they can have their own special day. 
After taking everything in, sometimes I have to hand stitch some edges on the area where the liner and the dress meet but that isn't a big deal. I show here how I had to fold over the liner and stitch it down as I didn't take the liner in as I did the dress so it was a bit bulky until I hand stitched it down. Some dresses make it easy to take both in by the way they are sewn together but this one was only attached at the top edge and it was difficult to take the liner in so I just made a fold / pleat in it and stitched it down and it looks great on her and she never noticed it. 

Lastly, I took a black "Sharpie" and used it to color in the "Sample" stamp at the top in the picture below. You can see the top of the "S" just beneath the hanger hook but for the most part, you can't even see it. You can see it in the video a bit better as I am taking the video in the bathroom with a row of about 12 lights on so you could see the stitching better. No one will even be able to tell that it was a sample as her little jacket covers it. I was going to put a "finished" picture on here but will wait and let you see the finished product next week after the dance. Also, the picture at the top is pinned on the inside of the dress on the breast in the left side of the picture so it looks bumpy but I wanted to show you that you can pin it and have them try it on BEFORE sewing it so you don't make it too small and have a mess on your hands.

Lastly, I took in the neck strap about 2 inches. I just moved the buttons but I show in the video how you can just fold the fabric over and then stitch it and after it is stitched, you can cut off the fold and that way the buttons will be in the back center of the neck if you are wearing your hair up. Since she wants hers down and she is wearing a little jacket, I didn't worry about that. 
I finished the altering last night and need to tack down the lining in a few spots, and stitch on a snap on the back neck strap and then I can iron it. Never use an iron directly on satin or silk. Use a towel and steam from the iron and you can usually get a good press. I have paid to have it steamed at a dress shop but wasn't happy with how it came out for the money so I just iron them myself as I haven't had much luck with hand steamers either. 

Feel free to write with any questions you may have.

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