Tag Archives: wedding gown alterations

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

 

 

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.