Tag Archives: altering beadwork on wedding gowns

Lace Wedding Gowns

Lace wedding gowns are still very much “on trend” this season and you may be wondering why the alterations on these gowns are so expensive.

When I think of lace, I think of the art of collage: lace is made to cut apart and stitch together in whatever pattern most flatters the body. That is why so many brides like it. Done right, it can flatter and slim the body in a way that no other fabric can.

Some lace dresses are cut out of lace yardage and they can be easy to alter, if they don’t have bead work. If they do, that is another story. But especially the dresses made of Chantilly lace and vintage dresses are made of whole yardage and are altered like any other gown.

Vintage Chantilly lace gown

 

The most expensive lace dresses have the lace pieced at the side seams, flowing into the skirt. The beading is then sewn on top of it. So when the dress is altered, we have to remove the beading and save it to be replaced. Then the lace must be CAREFULLY removed. I cannot stress this enough because most lace is stitched to netting or tulle which is very delicate. Removing the lace has to be done slowly with as little damage to the netting as possible. This is probably the most time consuming part of the alteration.

Lace Wedding Gown Alteration. Here the lace is unstitched awaiting fitting.0

Once the lace is removed, we can continue the alteration, whether it’s the side seams, darts, shoulders, or hem. After we check the fit, the seams have to be finished and the lace can be replaced. This is where the creativity ~ and the fun~ comes into play. Placing it so that it melds with the design of the gown and doesn’t look like it ‘s been altered is one of my favorite projects to do. I also do a lot of repairs on lace dresses. Lace is delicate so you can imagine how easy it is to snag or put a fingernail through!

 

Lace repair on antique wedding gown. Lace is pinned in place ready for stitching

When the lace is pinned in place, it can then be sewn, usually by hand, and the beading is replaced. This is very time consuming as well. But the finished product will look like absolute confection!

If you think you will need alterations on your wedding gown, you may want to remember that lace and beading add to the cost. If you are petite, plan to wear flats with your gown, are big busted, small busted or have uneven measurements, you WILL  need alterations!

Vintage Wedding Gown Restyling

It’s so impossible to keep up with my blogging during wedding season and this one was a doozy! Now that I’ve come up for air, I want to share a vintage wedding gown restyling with you. It was interesting because of all the beadwork and the addition of a train.

If you have ever altered a fully beaded gown, you’ll appreciate the work that went into this dress. (Check out my blog on working with beaded gowns.)

The base was a bias-cut silk chiffon covered with glass beads. They cannot be sewn over and so have to be removed and tied off before the alteration can be performed.

BEFORE the dress was a bias-cut "sack" because the bride didn't fill it out.

BEFORE the dress was a bias-cut “sack” because the bride didn’t fill it out.

Back of the dress before the alterations

Back of the dress before the alterations

 

In this case, the bride wanted the dress more fitted but since there was no zipper or opening of any kind, we had to make sure she could still get the dress on and off. I took in the side seams from the bust to the upper hip and added front darts. I also lifted the shoulders so that the back neckline of the dress fit a long-line backless bra.

The bride wanted some drama added to the back of the gown so we played with some silk chiffon yardage till we got a beautiful train which coordinated with the beaded cowl. I had to tea dye the natural color silk chiffon so that it matched the gown perfectly. I added a simple line of bugle beads to the edge for a little weight and a little sparkle and was still able to stay within the bride’s budget.

AFTER The added train filled in the bottom of the dress from the front and created some drama in the back

AFTER The added train filled in the bottom of the dress from the front and created some drama in the back

I wish I could have gotten picture of the train when she moved. The train kind of “flew” in back of her making a really gorgeous statement. And when it “landed” it wrapped around her like cloud.

And here’s the bride in her gown!

Brittany in her gown

Brittany in her gown

Back view shows the detachable train

Back view shows the detachable train

 

Wedding Gown Alterations: Beadwork

Wedding season is upon us and if you are one of the many brides who got engaged over the December holidays, you are (hopefully) looking for your wedding gown.

If you are like most brides, you will need some kind of alteration to the gown. Like all clothing, dresses come in basic sizes and then must be tailored to fit an individual body. Almost every gown needs at least a bustle; most need to be hemmed. Maybe you need the waist nipped in a bit or the darts adjusted. All of these are pretty standard alterations and add  to the cost of the gown.

If your dress has beadwork, that adds even more to the cost of the alterations. That’s because the beading has to be removed, either by breaking the beads or tying them off, before the seam can be sewn. Whiskeytown 019

On the dress shown, I had to remove the beads from around the seams and  tie them off so that I could reuse the beads. Yes, the dress came with the little package of extra beads but there are never enough to complete an alteration. If you are lucky enough to receive extra beads with the gowns ~ they don’t all come with them ~ there are just enough to do minor repairs.

 

After the new seams are sewn, I like to check the fit on the bride before replacing the beadwork.  I don’t want to have to re-do the alteration if the bride wants it “just a little tighter”.

Once the fit is approved by the bride, I replace the beads. The beads are all sewn on by hand, trying to copy the exact design. This dress’ beads were a pretty easy pattern to copy. Some can get pretty complicated and require more time to sew.

Here is the completed gown. I sewed the beads on by hand, copying the exact pattern of the beadwork.

Here is the completed gown. I sewed the beads on by hand, copying the exact pattern of the beadwork.

If you are a bride who likes “bling” on the dress, make sure your budget will allow for the cost of the dress and the alterations.