Thursday, June 2, 2011

Taking in princess seams, dress reconstruction

I first saw this dress almost a year ago. It was at Sweet Ludie's Vintage clothing shop for about $15. I didn't buy it because it was too big and I was in a crunch for time that month, knowing I wouldn't alter it for a while and it'd just sit in my sewing closet with the massive collection of other clothing I own. 
But this past January, Annette, the owner of Sweet Ludie's contacted me about donating a ton of vintage slips for my lingerie line I was starting. The antique mall where the shop was located was moving, and Annette had to clear out her shop with less than a month's notice! She very kindly let me go through ALL her clothes and have whatever I wanted! It was like Christmas! I ended up finally getting this dress free of charge and a few others I have yet to repurpose. 
Since coming back from the 60 degree weather in Michigan, it is around 100 degrees here everyday! I needed to fit this dress to me ASAP. It's too hot to wear so many clothes I have in my closet. You can never have enough sundresses, right?
Before: too long, a few sizes too big.
The bust was definitely too big. The princess seams, the vertical seams along the bust, needed to be taken in. I imagine the woman that loved this dress before me was about a D cup. Not really working for me and my small chest.
As you can see, the back fit fine. I love the corset style tie back! And perfect for not having to shorten straps! Such a great design. I didn't want to fit this dress to me and make it tight. I'm beginning to have a fondness for clothes draping off me. As long as they fit versus being fitted. Know what I mean? Plus, since there is a belt on the dress, I can always tie that tighter and let the dress hang over.
Clem getting in on my before photos.
You will need: pins, a seam gauge, scissors, sewing machine, matching thread, and a razor blade/seam ripper.
A little advice before you start. When taking in princess seams, or fitting anything for that matter, make sure you are wearing undergarments you typically wear. Example, don't pin wearing nothing if you wear bras with padding and lots of support. The end result will not fit
Because of the open back of this dress, I just pinned to my natural shape, no bra. If you are pinning yourself, face a mirror. And even if it is someone else pinning you, be sure you stand up straight. Start at the top, at the curve of the seam, and pin. Take it in so that you can still move freely. I pinned about an inch at the most on each seam. Make sure both sides are pinned the same. 
Before removing the pins to rip open the seams, make a note with your seam gauge of how much is pinned. This is pinned 1/2" so I need to take 1" from each side. Double the measurement since it's folded.
I ripped open the seam along the waistline, separating the bodice from the skirt. Then, separate the lining from the outside and rip open both princess seams up to about 2 inches below the top of the dress. 
When taking in a princess seam, you only take in fabric on the sides of the bodice. DO NOT TAKE IN THE CENTER PIECE! See how I'm taking in one inch on one piece of fabric and following the old seam on the other. When you get up to the curve of the bust, taper it down to nothing.
You will do this four times. Each side of the bust and the lining. Sew the lining and bodice back together and then sew the bodice to the skirt. I then shortened the dress by about 9 inches. A simple rolled hem did the trick.
The bodice after sewing! I didn't want to make it too fitted because of the style of the dress. If you were taking in a more fitted dress, be sure to wear the same undergarments with each fitting and be more specific in your fitting. And by this I mean the pinning will take longer and you will spend more time sewing it. 
It's a completely different dress now! Perfect for June in Georgia! 
I wore this dress to work at the bar on Tuesday. My first day back since my vacation to Michigan. While it is bartending during happy hour, I refuse to wear jeans anymore! The are going in my cedar chest until October (or if I visit Michigan again ha). 
Clementine posing for a picture. She was groaning at me the whole time "uhhhh put me dowwwwn". My cats can be so bratty! But isn't she just so beautiful?!

Questions? Comments!
I'd love to hear from you!

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  1. You are so incredibly smart and creative! I'm just starting out sewing, but I think I could handle a project like this. Thanks for breaking it down with clear instructions and photos!

    Also- love the dress. So perfect for summer in Georgia! I'm in Peachtree Corners, so I'm trying to figure out some cute sundresses, too.

  2. WOW looks GREAT!!! im loving that dress!!!

  3. This was great, thank you so much for sharing!
    pea.ess. You are so pretty and I LOVE your tattoo! xx

  4. Well done! You turned that dress into a total winner!

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  6. Thank you. This helps for me to take in a dress I have that is also too big. I love Clementine. Kellee