Tag Archives: Designs

Repairing and Altering Antique Clothing

It was quite the wedding season this year! At one point I had to stop answering the phone because all I could do was turn down work. I apologize if you were one of those who called me and couldn’t get through. As a one-person business I have to sometimes choose between completing the projects I already have  and getting more work.

One of the projects I enjoy the most as a dressmaker is working with vintage and antique dresses.  Whether it’s a wedding gown or a suit or coat, I do quite a bit of repairing and altering antique clothing.

As I’ve written about before, when dealing with antiques, I like to really take my time and think through the project before I begin. It’s just too easy to go forward too quickly and make a grievous mistake. Even the most cared for garments are fragile and usually have rips or stains.

The dress pictured above was worn by the bride’s mom in the 1980’s. She bought it at an antique shop and best guess is that it is about 100 years old. The bride wanted to carry on the tradition but it needed a lot of work!


You can see the rust colored stain on the very sheer fabric.

You can see the rust colored stain on the very sheer fabric.

The cotton voile was fragile and had some stains. The lace was delicate and had rips and stains.

Here is one of the many rips in the lace I had to deal with.

Here is one of the many rips in the lace I had to deal with.

The waistband of the dress was completely ripped up but fortunately, the bride planned on wearing a sash. I reinforced the band with silk habotai. I lined the whole dress with the habotai to compensate for the sheerness and  use it to reinforce the stress areas of the dress and yet still keep it light and airy.

For instance, the bottom ruffle (which was shortened so her shoes would show) was re-attached to the skirt and the lining so that it wasn’t hanging from the skirt alone.  I also attached the shoulders and sleeves to the habotai to reinforce those areas.

When dealing with the stains, I tried out a spot that I knew was going to be removed when I hemmed the dress. I VERY GENTLY rubbed a small amount of baking soda into the stain and that was all it took to shred the fabric. I then decided to just try soaking the stains with baking soda and it didn’t remove the stains but it lightened them enough so that they got lost in the volume of fabric.

Here are some details of the gorgeous dress:

This is the back of the dress. You can see the embroidery and the crocheted buttons.

This is a close-up view of the back of the dress. You can see the embroidery and the crocheted buttons.

Here's a close-up of the buttons.

Here’s a close-up of the buttons.

Back View of the Dress

Back View of the Dress




Barbara Stone Designs is located in beautiful Northern California. Please stop by if you are driving up I-5! And feel free to contact us through any of the following methods:

Appointments are recommended!

5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P
Redding, CA 96002



Tuesday – Friday 10 -6

Saturday: 10am to 4pm

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5-18 Prom &BM 002Whether you are a bride or a cowboy (or both!), Barbara Stone Designs can take care of your alterations.

Bridal Alterations:

In business for over 30 years, Barbara has worked with more than three decades of bridal fashion. From refitting and restyling vintage dresses to basic alterations on the latest styles, she can do the work you need to make your dress and your day unique.

Barbara can also help the entire bridal party with their alterations: dresses for bridesmaids, mothers, and flower girls, as well as last-minute changes on tuxedos for the groomsmen and fathers.

“Once I commit to a bride, I will do whatever it takes to get her wedding party ready for her big day. Brides almost always have last minute adjustments, whether it’s for a pregnant bridesmaid or a family member coming from out of town. I always allow time for whatever she may need.”

Additional alterations:

“Although my portfolio shows some of the more complex projects I have tackled, I also do the basics: hems, repairs, replacing zippers. I have experience with all men and women’s clothing. I hem and repair jeans; tailor coats and jackets; hem sleeves on  blouses and men’s shirts.

“I tailored at the Men’s Wearhouse for several years, so I have a LOT of experience with men’s suits and shirts. In fact, many of the men I worked with there followed me when I went out on my own again.

“I’ve also done repairs and alterations on ski wear and leather jackets. Zipper replacement is something I do a lot of.

“I have worked with every fabric imaginable, from chiffon and tulle prom dresses, to denim and leather jackets. Stretch fabrics are popular lately so I recently invested in a cover stitch sewing machine so I could do a proper stretch hem for dresses and tops. It makes a nice stitch and will stretch with the wearer.”

Custom Clothing

Custom Clothing is one of Barbara’s passions. Have you ever had an idea for a beautiful dress or suit but when you start shopping for it, you realize that the picture only exists in your head?

“I love helping women create their fantasy clothes. Whether it’s a wedding gown, a suit, or a dress for a special occasion, if you can imagine it, I can make it.

“Designing custom clothing since the 1980’s, I have helped women of all sizes and fashion tastes realize their dreams. Be sure to look through my portfolio to see the many wedding gowns, dresses, pants, suits, and jackets which I have created through the years.”

The Custom Clothing Process:

“I started out using commercial patterns, like most seamstresses, but soon became frustrated at the lack of up-to-date styles and the fit. Women come to a custom clothier for two reasons: they want a unique design and/or they have fit issues that make it difficult to buy clothing in a store. Many of us, and I do include myself in this category, cannot find a good fit in a store-bought garment. Especially women of a certain age…ahem.  I was doing so many adjustments to the patterns, either for the design or the fit we needed, that I decided I might as well start from scratch.

“Then I learned about moulage and it changed my view about how to create clothing. Moulage is a French craft which entails fitting directly on the body with muslin to get the fit and design that the client has in mind. Wedding GownYou can see your designs being produced before your eyes and can easily suggest changes to the fit or the style as we progress. You are not confined to a commercial pattern or a commercial fit. You are only limited by your imagination!”