Monday, August 13, 2007

Alteration Station

Alteration Station. That's what my sewing room was converted to the past weekend.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate to do alterations? I never take them on any longer for pay but I have a hard time saying no when family or close friends ask for assistance. It helps that they are aware of how much I hate alterations and only ask when they really, really, really need help. I always say yes, but somehow manage to tuck the item away in my sewing room and promptly forget it ever existed.

Last week, when I was tidying up my sewing space, I guiltily looked at three items that I needed to finish. There's actually more than three, but I refused to let my eyes dart to the shelf where the others are waiting for their turn at the sewing machine. If I don't see them I don't have to work on them :-)

I desperately wanted to continue work on the McCall's 5466 dress, but knew I should complete my obligations first. So I quickly hemmed a dress for a co-worker and repaired a ripped princess seam in a blouse one of my sister's had purchased when she visited Ireland.

This weekend, in between work (at the County Fair - fun but hot), church, a family birthday party, and the normal weekend household chores, I began work to complete alterations on a bridesmaid's gown.

Oh how I hate altering bridal apparel. It was the beaded wedding gown that needed the beads removed from the bodice, the seams taken in, and the beading resewn that made me scream "no more bridal alterations!"

However, when a friend approached me months ago to ask if I would alter a bridesmaid's gown for her I just couldn't say no. After all, she was going to be eight months pregnant by the time of the wedding and if she couldn't find someone to alter the gown she wasn't going to be in her sister's wedding. Which would have been sad because the other two sisters will be in the wedding as bridesmaids. So you see? I just couldn't say no.

She had me accompany her to the bridal shop to make sure I would be able to do the alterations. The dress is strapless, empire waist, a-line skirt with a draped front overlay. It didn't look like it would be too difficult to add extra fabric to the skirt panel underneath the drape to make it a maternity gown, so I told her to go ahead and order it.

Not knowing how large she would be when it was time for the wedding, we decided to have her order the dress two sizes larger than what she would have normally ordered. The dress came in about six weeks ago but I wanted to wait until the last possible moment in case baby decided to do some last minute growing.

Last week she came over for a fitting and we discovered that by ordering the larger size the area for the belly wasn't going to need that much more fabric added, but the upper bodice was way too large. This is what needed to be done:
  1. Take in bodice side seams at the top of the bodice. This consisted of the gown bodice, the bodice underlining, the interfacing with side seam boning, and the dress lining. Ugh.
  2. Taper bodice side seam out to scant 1/4" at empire waist to allow extra room for baby.
  3. Add removable shoulder straps for extra support during the reception. Straps will be removed only for the ceremony and the photographs.
  4. Change seams in the lining from 5/8" to 1/4". This alone added enough extra room for the baby. I was glad I didn't need to add additional fabric to the lining because that would have meant removing the attached tulle petticoat and adding to that also.
  5. Remove an inch from the lower portion of the bodice to allow extra room for baby.
  6. Add fabric to the front drape overlay at the side. The front overlay was also lined, which I didn't realize until I began to take the dress apart.
  7. Add fabric to the dress panel underneath the front overlay to make room for baby.
  8. Resew thread loops to attach the bodice lining to the bodice.
  9. Resew the decorative brooch to the front overlay.
  10. Possible fabric band at the hem to add length. She's coming over for the final fitting this evening so I won't know until then if the gown is done or not.
Whew. Of course what could go wrong did go wrong.
  • A few seams sewn that had to be undone and resewn.
  • The iron "spit" on the lower portion of the gown when I was pressing, but fortunately it didn't spot.
  • Pricked my finger and left a drop of blood on the gown - but I noticed it immediately and was able to remove the spot.
  • When grabbing a seam ripper it caught on the ironing board cover and put a nice big tear in the cover. Better the ironing board cover than the gown!
  • The pins fell onto the carpeted floor where I had to try and find them before the little dog could get them in her mouth. She hasn't swallowed any in the past but I don't want to take any chances.
Minor things but all irritating. Probably because I hate doing alterations :-)

And, while my sewing motto is "it doesn't have to be perfect", that doesn't apply when I sew for others. So of course I have been trying to trim every excess thread, trim seams evenly, hand stitch invisibly, and press lightly.

All in all, the gown alteration that I was sure would be "so simple" took about twelve hours of time. And you know what? I'd do it for her again. I'm glad that I could help her out so that she can be a part of her sister's wedding.

Tomorrow I'll have a photo of the adorable little flower girl dress we made for her one-year-old daughter! Pin It


  1. Sharon, what a job - would have been easier to sew it new! But for that sentiment, I could not say no either. I dislike alterations a lot, also, as that was the only way I had any clothes as a teen-ager - remade them from my two older aunts' clothing! My husband even took to taking his pants elsewhere when they needed to be hemmed! Will you have a photo of that dress? Sounds lovely.

  2. Hi Sharon! WOW... you're better than me!!! I "spiffed" up my neighbor's daughter's dance line costumes last year (replaced at least 500 sequins to make them shinier) and hemmed 2 gowns (one for homecoming and one for prom... thougth I was going to pull my hair out! Can't wait to see pics!

    Got lipstick on my son's prom date's dress and thought I was going to have a stroke (baby wipes work WONDERS!!!)

    Humidity is gone... it is actually a bit chilly here tonight (at least for me!) Sky is CLEAR... we actually saw 2 shooting stars last night!

    Lala :o)

  3. Oh Sharon! I know what you mean about perfect for others! I'm like that and I have a friend begging me to take in her pants for school where she works. I don't wanna do it. I may not. I may. I don't know. But I do know you're amazing that you did that for your friend..friends like you make up good stuff!

    PS--yes, you did see Dick and Jane. Sad, isn't it? My typing life sucks! xoxo



Blog Widget by LinkWithin