Shortening a gathered lace hem from above.

I am taking a break for a bit from working on dresses to focus on raising my sons. Before I do, I have a few more posts to write about my last few clients. I had a client bring in a lace masterpiece by Yolan Chris. This Yolan Chris piece of art, is all hand made Spanish lace and drapes down my client's body so beautifully. 

As many dresses are made, her hem was too long. The issue is you cannot just remove the bottom of a dress with embroidered lace or simply "turn" it under. If you look at the bottom part of her skirt you can see the gathered piece with a beautiful lace piece over it. 

A look at the entire dress from below...

A look at the entire dress from below...

A look at the bottom half with the gathered piece.

A look at the bottom half with the gathered piece.

Close-up of the lace over the gathered seam.

Close-up of the lace over the gathered seam.


First I had to remove the bottom piece from the center to both sides. Once I removed it I laid out the rectangular piece and measured what I needed to cut. 

 

The rectangular piece still attached to the dress. 

The rectangular piece still attached to the dress. 

After I removed a few inches from the center, I tapered it off to the sides seams, gathered it again, and resewed it to the base of the dress. I had to have my client come back and try on the dress again to make sure the height of the hem was perfect. Luckily it was! After that I spent a few hours hand sewing the embroidered lace back on top of the seam and pressing the inside. 

I have to say it was a pleasure working on such a lovely dress! 

Hand sewing and listening to sports radio = HAPPINESS! 

Hand sewing and listening to sports radio = HAPPINESS! 

A close-up of the lace I was hand sewing.

A close-up of the lace I was hand sewing.

Bridesmaid Dress "design"

I recently had a client come in for her wedding dress alteration (I'll create another post for that one, it's pretty cool how is has to be altered). While she was here she asked if we could hem her bridesmaid dress (for another wedding) and "do something" with it. I love when clients are just giving you those 'doe' eyes and asking for help! Here is the bridesmaid dress:

The beautiful and versatile David's Bridal bridesmaid dress.

The beautiful and versatile David's Bridal bridesmaid dress.

 

The dress is jersey knit which translates to slinky, clingy, beautiful drape, and it doesn't fray at the ends when you cut it. The hem wasn't finished to allow for the owner to have it hemmed and in about 5 minutes I cut it the length she wanted and said "Done. What's next?" We both laughed and I told her that was the easiest hem ever! (Jersey doesn't fray so you can just cut it and if you try and sew the hem odds are the fabric will drape funny so sometimes it's best to leave it alone.) That lead us to the top of the dress. It's designed to be worn multiple ways but my client wanted advice on how to wear it and asked if we could make it permanent. Her favorite way was to wrap the pieces to cross over one shoulder and connect in the back while still draping down the back. 

I had her place the pieces where she wanted them and pinned the back. After securing where the pieces would lay, I had her carefully take off the dress and hand sewed the pieces in place. 

The back view of the dress covering her entire back. 

The back view of the dress covering her entire back. 

A close-up view of the pinning. 

A close-up view of the pinning. 

Front view of the dress hanging on my dress form.

Front view of the dress hanging on my dress form.

The finished back view. All of the gathers are hand sewn down. 

The finished back view. All of the gathers are hand sewn down. 

Close-up of the hand sewn gathers.

Close-up of the hand sewn gathers.

Front close-up of the crossing straps.

Front close-up of the crossing straps.

Kassandra's Wedding Dress Final!

The day finally came where Kassandra's dress was finished! The final addition was a set of thin spaghetti straps and one more beaded piece in the center back to cover a little of the zipper. Her wedding is in May and I will post final professional pictures once I receive them. It was hard to let this beautiful dress leave my home but I cannot wait to see Kassandra on her wedding day, in this gorgeous piece of art! 

The final closure system covering the extention I built to have the bodice fit her. 

The final closure system covering the extention I built to have the bodice fit her. 

Close up of the inside of the jeweled extensions. She is zippered into the dress then the jeweled pieces snap closed over the zipper. In the end all you see are jewels...

Close up of the inside of the jeweled extensions. She is zippered into the dress then the jeweled pieces snap closed over the zipper. In the end all you see are jewels...

The back spaghetti strap I built from the 5 inches of fabric we removed at the bottom of the dress. 

The back spaghetti strap I built from the 5 inches of fabric we removed at the bottom of the dress. 

A look at the strap placement from the inside view. Notice all the handwork on the cup from the inside. 

A look at the strap placement from the inside view. Notice all the handwork on the cup from the inside. 

Both straps hand sewn on.

Both straps hand sewn on.

Final front view with the straps on. 

Final front view with the straps on. 

As I mentioned above, I will post the final images from the wedding after she gets married in May. 

Kassandra's Wedding Dress part 2

Kassandra came in for her final fitting! I was able to bring the cups in enough to fit her chest and curve inward to keep her chest from flying out. We placed her final straps in the desired locations and she loved the way I sewed on the pieces from her old belt to cover the alterations in the back. Take a look:

 

Close up you can see the belt pieces covering the old extention I added. 

Close up you can see the belt pieces covering the old extention I added. 

Here is the back again (off of her body) and you can see how the belt pattern blended right into the design of the fabric. 

Here is the back again (off of her body) and you can see how the belt pattern blended right into the design of the fabric. 

Here is a view showing how I attached the pieces (3 total) with the snaps on the inside. (I closed the top one to show them open and closed). 

Here is a view showing how I attached the pieces (3 total) with the snaps on the inside. (I closed the top one to show them open and closed). 

Here is the entire back all opened to show the 2 zippers, the extension I added, and finally the belt pieces overlaid. 

Here is the entire back all opened to show the 2 zippers, the extension I added, and finally the belt pieces overlaid. 

Here is a close up of the belt I cut apart to create the pieces over the back extension. 

Here is a close up of the belt I cut apart to create the pieces over the back extension. 

Here is a before and after of the back of the dress. The before on the left is the original extension I created to make the bodice fit around her ribs. The after and picture on the right shows the extension covered up. 

Here is a before and after of the back of the dress. The before on the left is the original extension I created to make the bodice fit around her ribs. The after and picture on the right shows the extension covered up. 

Some close ups of the inside cups after cutting them open and resizing them. 

Some close ups of the inside cups after cutting them open and resizing them. 

IMG_7676.jpg
A close up of the cups from the outside after the alteration.

A close up of the cups from the outside after the alteration.

Here is the "after" and "before". I love seeing them side by side...I removed 2 inches of cup on each side! 

Here is the "after" and "before". I love seeing them side by side...I removed 2 inches of cup on each side! 

Last image of Kassandra posing with her new dress fitting correctly and testing out her bouquet (she created). 

Last image of Kassandra posing with her new dress fitting correctly and testing out her bouquet (she created). 

Kassandra's final fitting included added thin straps, one more belt piece on the center back (to cover the zipper tab) and she decided to gather some strips of her skirt tulle (we cut off about 5 inches) and tie them in a belt around her waist. 

Her wedding is in May and I will post pictures from her ceremony to show the final dress! 

I have to add that I found an image of the original dress, and the designer is Suzanne Harward this dress is from her 2013 collection.  

Here is the original dress. Kassandra had me remove the belt, the center beaded shape and add straps along with reshaping the bodice to custom fit her. 

Here is the original dress. Kassandra had me remove the belt, the center beaded shape and add straps along with reshaping the bodice to custom fit her. 

Dip Dye Ombre!

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Ariana. She came to me with a BHLDN dress, Noelle that she purchased. She needed a shorter hem line and wanted to talk about possibly doing a dip dye ombre look on the bottom of the dress. 

The Noelle dress from BHLDN.

The Noelle dress from BHLDN.

First of all, I was so excited because the last time I had dip dyed a dress with an ombre look was my own wedding dress (I did it in yellow).
 

My dress dip dyed in yellow...

My dress dip dyed in yellow...

 

We talked about how this was not an exact science and that she needed to be willing to "Go with the flow" if it didn't turn out exactly the way she wanted. She was all in! 

I began by dying some of the pieces I cut off from the front hem of the dress. Ariana couldn't decide between blue or champagne so I dyed a sample of both. 

The dyed samples.

The dyed samples.

Ariana came back, took the dress and the samples, and kept them for the night to decide which color she wanted to go with. The next day she returned deciding on the champagne color! 

I went to work...I used a plastic basin, hot water, and a bottle of SAND colored RIT Synthetic dye. 

The dress took the color in such a lovely way! When it was finished you could see a mixture of golds and pinks from the variation in the lace and the materials. 

Ariana came back and tried it on and loved it! 

Here are some pictures of her in it and I will post more after her wedding this summer! 

Kassandra's Wedding Dress continued...

Kassandra came in for her 3rd fitting. For this fitting I needed to look at the cups and hem of the dress. If you remember in the last post I finished creating room in the back of the dress and removing some areas of beaded pieces. At this point, I have adjusted 1 of the front cups and hemmed the inside of the dress. Let's look at the dress before I adjusted 1 of the cups.

The front view of the cups.

The front view of the cups.

The inside view.

The inside view.

To adjust the cups, I need to get inside of the lining and cut the foam and re-sew the foam piece together. Here is where I began the cutting the lining and the foam...

Outside view of how much of the cup to remove.

Outside view of how much of the cup to remove.

View up close.

View up close.

Side view to see about 2.5 inches needed to be removed. 

Side view to see about 2.5 inches needed to be removed. 

Inside view of how I began to remove the excess cup.

Inside view of how I began to remove the excess cup.

Kassandra 4

At this point I need Kassandra to put the dress on so I can measure how much of the bra cup to remove. I put her in the dress and pinned the cup closed. 

At her last fitting I was able to measure the hem of the inside of the dress (She is going to be barefoot). I finished sewing it with a basic narrow hem technique. For the silk organza overlay I waited until this fitting so I could cut it to the exact length now that the bodice fit (minus the cups). It was exciting to have her try the dress on and walk around! This was the first time the hem was the correct length and the bodice fit and she was able to really get a feel for the dress. Until this point she had to use her imagination...

Here is the hem before in my studio, and the after as she walked around my living room.

Here is the hem before in my studio, and the after as she walked around my living room.

The full view of Kassandra in her dress as her and her mother watch the video I just took of her walking around in the dress.

The full view of Kassandra in her dress as her and her mother watch the video I just took of her walking around in the dress.

In the next post I'll show the steps to fixing both cups!

Kassandra's Dress Alterations

Welcome to my blog about creating wedding dress designs, altering existing dresses, and making all types of things in between! I have been sewing professionally for over 10 years and I thought it was about time to properly document some of my favorite clients and other projects. 

Enter Kassandra. Kassandra and her mom first came to my studio to discuss the possibility of Kassandra wearing her mother's wedding dress. In the end it was decided that Kassandra wanted to search for a dress closer to her love of "bohemian" style wedding dresses. Fast forward a few weeks, and I have the ladies in my studio again talking about the dress Kassandra found. This dress is exquisite. The color is the first thing that hits you. I believe it is officially called nightingale. It's a blend of purple, white, blue, and grey, but what it isn't, is anything near pastel! It's a fitted bodice with cups, lace, beads, ruching, buttons down the back, and yards and yards of layers of tulle and organza. I was not at all surprised Kassandra had fallen in love with this dress and I was so excited to be able to work with her (and the dress!). 

Let's look at what we needed to do to get this dress to fit Kassandra. To give a background on the dress; Kassandra purchased this dress from Brides for a Cause.  Brides for a Cause is a Portland based organization that collects donated designer dresses and the proceeds are according to their website "dispersed among a variety of women focused charities". Kassandra purchased this dress which was a sample dress from Australian wedding dress designer, Suzanne Harward. According to Kassandra the day she went into the shop in SE Portland they had just received a shipment of dresses from Suzanne Harward and after trying on a few she fell in love with the one she purchased. Here is a picture of the dress below hanging in my studio.
This picture doesn't do the dress justice, but I needed a starting point. 

This picture doesn't do the dress justice, but I needed a starting point. 

Here is the original dress, I found this picture from the designer's website. 

Here is the original dress, I found this picture from the designer's website

Kassandra's dress was too small around the bodice (ribcage and waist), slightly too large in the cups, and as with most wedding dresses it needed to be custom hemmed to her height. 

Here is a picture of Kassandra in the dress to show the gap in the back.

Don't you love her tattoos!

Don't you love her tattoos!

There was a 2.5" gap about 5" long in the back.

There was a 2.5" gap about 5" long in the back.

I explained to Kassandra that we were going to need to build a part of the bodice in the back and redesign the closure system (in other words how she gets into the dress). I began by taking about 10 inches from the underskirt's hem (the beautiful satin base of the dress) and I cut 2 block pieces and inserted a zipper in between them. From there I needed to fit Kassandra and see how the pieces lay to her shape which will determine how I sew in the pieces. 

Seems pretty easy right? Ha! This always gives me a good laugh with all the DIY and blog posts about how to do certain things. Don't get me wrong I love them all and I read them and attempt half of them. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the internet makes things look pretty simple and then reality sets in. Have you ever seen the pinterest posts of pinterest fails? It's worth looking at. Basically you laugh at how you tried to do or create the "thing" you saw on pinterest. The fails are hilarious and epic. My point is some projects are best left in the hands of experience. Brides who say they are going to sew it, or their aunt sews some times really need to make sure they consult people who are experienced. Of course now I refer to myself as being the expert, but it is true that sometimes you shouldn't try it yourself. Ok back to the dress. 

Let's look at this dress close up:

Kassandra asked me to remove the waistband, she wasn't that into the design it created. In the picture above you can see the smooth transition between the bodice and skirt after the waistband was removed. (The 2nd pictures shows a little of the waistband on in the back before I completely removed it). I took these pictures to show the beauty of all the detail on the bodice. As I continue to work on the dress you will see the "cross" shaped motif in the center of the bodice between the cups removed (Kassandra also asked for that to be removed). 

As for the back I removed the buttons, the loops, and the modesty panel (satin flat piece that goes under the zipper and buttons to hide the skin and make it 'comfy'). 

Here are the close ups:

 

After removing the buttons, loops, and modesty panel...

After removing the buttons, loops, and modesty panel...

After carefully removing the old closure the challenge now is to create a design to cover the back, add to the dress and create fit, all while making it look like it was supposed to be there...

My plan was to create 2 square pieces out of the fabric removed from the base hem of her dress. I added a stabilizer to the square shape and sewed them up. I then sewed a zipper between the 2 squares and then slid the shapes into the sides of the back of the dress.

Here is a picture of my idea drawn out on my white board: 

I love my whiteboard! 

 I used fabric that I removed from the bottom of the base layer of the dress. If you remember earlier I wrote that  about 10 inches were removed and it was the perfect amount to use to create the squares. I wanted to make sure the fabric was supported and added a stabilizer inside of the pieces. Once I made the squares I sewed a simple center back zipper in place.

From there I took the squares with the zipper and slipped the squares inside the sides of the center back of the dress. (It took a few long tedious hours to open the dress up but was worth it). I then measure how much I needed to add in the center top, center, and bottom of the center back area and pinned the shapes accordingly. This is the resulted shape:

I am so excited with how well this turned out! (More will be added in the end to help it blend in.)

I am so excited with how well this turned out! (More will be added in the end to help it blend in.)

I'll go ahead and post this for now, but more to come as I continue with altering the cups in the front!